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Governor candidate Mary Taylor proposes simplified tax code

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    Lt. Governor Mary Taylor speaks during a press conference at 300 Madison Ave. in Toledo Wednesday.

    The Blade/Andy Morrison
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    Scott Wiley of the Ohio Society of CPA's, with Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, speaks during a press conference Wednesday.

    The Blade/Andy Morrison
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Calling complex tax rules one of the top complaints of Ohio small business owners, Republican governor candidate Mary Taylor on Wednesday promised to simplify the tax system in Ohio if she’s elected.

Ms. Taylor, elected Ohio’s lieutenant governor in 2010 and 2014, spoke at the headquarters of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.

CTY-taylor23p-4

Lt. Governor Mary Taylor speaks during a press conference at 300 Madison Ave. in Toledo Wednesday.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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She said she would simplify the individual tax form to fit on a postcard like it was in 1972.

“I am, of course, well aware that many taxes are now filed electronically, but that does not change the importance of this effort. Simplifying the filing requirements and reducing the burden on taxpayers is just as vital for electronic filers as for paper filers,” she said.

Among ways to shorten the tax form, she suggested, was to eliminate “special interest carve-outs,” such as a $50 tax credit for making political campaign contributions to a candidate for statewide office or the General Assembly. The tax code offered 23 credits in 2016.

Ms. Taylor said she wants to promote a more customer-friendly attitude in the tax department.

“There is a culture of us versus them in our bureaucracy. We shouldn’t treat them as the enemy,” Ms. Taylor said.

Through her Common Sense Initiative during her tenure as lieutenant governor, Ms. Taylor said she has sought to root out excessive regulation and red tape.

Ms. Taylor said simplifying a complex tax code was ranked by Ohio members of the National Federation of Independent Business as its third-highest priority. She said the vast majority of small-business owners report their taxes on the individual return.

The former state auditor and Summit County representative to the General Assembly is one of four Republicans who have declared for the Republican nomination to succeed Gov. John Kasich. Also seeking the GOP nomination are U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, and Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Ms. Taylor said that she and Governor Kasich reduced taxes by $5 billion, including virtually eliminating income taxes on small businesses and eliminating the estate tax. She said there’s still a need to streamline the tax process.

She said she would order the tax department to adjust tax withholding tables so people are not, in effect, giving the state an interest-free loan. Ms. Taylor said employers withhold nearly 20 percent more in wages than are due in taxes.

In an implied criticism of state tax officials, she promised that her administration would defer to “well-accepted practices” rather than try to collect back taxes, interest, and penalties through new interpretations of rules.

“The Taylor Administration will respect accepted interpretations, will use the legislative process to change tax policy, and will not retroactively apply tax policy changes,” she said.

She said she would create a Taxpayer Advocacy Office, independent of the Tax Department hierarchy, to ensure fairness to Ohio taxpayers.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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