Last week, Kevin Ferguson received an unsolicited refund and apology from the Ohio Department of Taxation.
The Grove City resident and owner of the Grove City-based K&K Builders with his brother Kerry Ferguson for the past 24 years, received a check for $3,451 Feb. 19, for an overpayment in taxes made back in 2010, plus interest.
"I appreciate it," said Ferguson, who added -- during a ceremony staged at the department to issue the refund -- that he planned to immediately deposit the check in the bank.
As a new policy, the Ohio Department of Taxation is now reaching and alerting businesses when they overpay their taxes.
"This should have been done a long time ago," said Ohio Tax Commissioner Joe Testa.
Historically, Testa said, the Ohio Department of Taxation has been under no legal obligation to notify businesses when they paid too much in taxes. Businesses were required to initiate a refund request themselves, but if the business wasn't aware it had overpaid and didn't do so, the money remained with the department.
"This was sort of an unwritten policy," Testa said.
Testa said the department has identified between $40 and $45 million worth of overpaid business tax accounts.
"We found tens of thousands of accounts," Testa said. "They just went into suspense accounts, and they laid there for years and years."
Once statutory deadlines passed, the money lapsed to the state treasury.
Since implementing the new policy, Testa said the department has distributed nearly $20 million in overpaid business taxes.
Currently, two identical pieces of legislation are being considered at the Statehouse that would require the tax commissioner to notify taxpayers of tax or fee overpayments and to apply overpayments to future liabilities or issue a refund.
Senate Bill 263 passed on Feb. 12, by a vote of 32-0. House Bill 402 is currently in the Finance and Appropriations Committee.