Are You Filing An Ohio Use Tax Return?

Like other states, Ohio’s use tax is complementary to its sales tax, with tax being imposed upon the storage, use, or consumption of tangible personal property in Ohio and the receipt of the benefit of a taxable service, to the extent sales tax has not been paid.  The reality is that every Ohio resident and business operating in Ohio likely has a use tax liability arising from out-of-state purchases when the vendor did not collect Ohio tax (and, through December 31, 2009, also arising from purchases made from vendors in an Ohio county with a lower tax rate than the county of the consumer’s storage, use or consumption of the property).  The failure to file an Ohio use tax return enhances the likelihood:

  1. You will be audited, as the Tax Commissioner will be concerned there is no means by which your use tax obligations are being met (and those not audited are simply lucky due to the limited resources of the Tax Commissioner).
  2. The penalty resulting from an audit will be the maximum 15%.
  3. An audit will encompass a substantial period since there is no statute of limitation if returns are not filed.

There are ways to ease into the filing of a use tax return, including through the voluntary disclosure program if you are concerned about a past liability. Most importantly, Ohio use tax returns should be filed in order to start the four-year statute of limitations, thereby limiting the exposure of a potential audit.