On December 6, 2023, The Ohio Department of Taxation (Department) published Information Release G 2023-1, Changes to Certified Mail Procedures. The information provided in the Information Release is consistent with the ordinary mail procedural changes mentioned in this recent buzz. Starting on January 1, 2024, the Department will begin implementing the delivery of assessment notices by ordinary mail. Taxpayers may continue to receive paper mail, or they may elect to receive their notices electronically.
The Department highly encourages taxpayers to select the option to receive electronic notices. The Department’s new tax system OH|TAX, has many advanced features. One feature allows taxpayers to view and reply to their online notices attached to their OH|TAX account. Any taxpayer who has decided to receive notices electronically will receive an email stating the status of the notice in their OH|TAX account. The Information Release makes it clear that emails from the Department will be sent via this type of email and this type of email only. The new OH|TAX system is currently only available for individuals, not for business entities.
There are many concerns associated with the delivery of notices and assessments sent via ordinary mail. Taxpayers overlooking the critical nature of assessments sent via ordinary mail and the threat of receiving “fake” collection notices in the ordinary mail are just a couple of concerns the Release did not address.
The Department has a partnership with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to further facilitate the collection of unpaid tax debt within the state. The Release acknowledges that any taxpayer that is notified of a debt by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office through collection efforts who did not receive the Department’s notices may reach out within 60 days of initial contact. “ODT will work with the taxpayer to ensure proper service to allow an opportunity to file a petition for reassessment.”
ZHF Observation: The Information Release contains statements that are inaccurate. With respect to a notice of assessment received via ordinary mail, the Information Release states: “The taxpayer has sixty (60) days from the date on the notice to respond to the notice by either providing supporting documentation, paying the amount billed, or filing an appeal.” The petition for reassessment provisions, e.g., R.C. 5739.13 for sales tax, state that the 60-day appeal period runs from the date of service of the notice of assessment, not from the date on the notice.
The statement that a taxpayer can provide additional information within the 60-day period suggests that such a submission will constitute an appeal of the assessment. However, the petition for reassessment provisions require the filing of a written petition for reassessment signed by the party within the 60-day period. While the Department has historically treated the submission of additional information like a petition for reassessment, this policy could change since the law describes a petition for reassessment. Moreover, just submitting additional support is often not sufficient. The law allows the taxpayer to request a hearing (on a petition for reassessment) but the Department has never treated the submission of additional support as a request for a hearing and the hearing examiners do not generally reach out to ask for additional information or ask the taxpayer whether they want a hearing. Thus, the hearing examiner may find that the additional information was not sufficient and issue a Final Determination affirming the assessment, which is appealable to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals, a tribunal. Many taxpayers create a procedural issue by just providing additional information because doing so may not be sufficient to raise all objections to the assessment. Only objections raised in writing in the petition for reassessment or after the filing of the petition but before the issuance of the Final Determination may be raised at the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals.