When the tax bill comes due next April, residents and businesses in Groveport will notice changes in the way they go about paying.

The city of Columbus recently notified Groveport and other suburbs that it would no longer serve as a third-party administrator in the collection of income taxes -- a move that surprised city officials.

"We just got a letter from the city of Columbus, saying with all the changes that the state has mandated as far as a centralized collection, that it was becoming too complicated for them," Assistant City Administrator and Finance Director Jeff Green said.

The Regional Income Tax Agency provides income-tax-collection services for Ohio municipalities, including many in central Ohio, such as Reynoldsburg, Grove City and Worthington. It now will replace Columbus as the agency collecting Groveport taxes.

Groveport City Council approved legislation authorizing an agreement with RITA, which will receive a percentage of the collected income taxes, according to Green. That amounts to a little more than 1 percent, about the same Columbus received, he said.

The income tax is paid by residents who live or work within city limits.

Groveport officials examined several alternatives to replacing Columbus as its tax administrator.

"We thought we'd be better-served by RITA," Green said. "RITA has a local presence and they have great online filing, so we just thought the residents will be better-served."

Smaller cities typically use third-party tax collectors because of the cost to maintain their own departments.

Columbus City Auditor Megan Kilgore said changes in the state tax code, which centralized the collection of business income taxes, prompted her office to end its services.

"We were unable to fulfill the same level of service safely," she said. "We're just not in the best position to ensure the suburbs are following through with the state code."

The tax code changes enacted in the most recent state budget drew the ire of a coalition of more than 160 cities across the state that filed a lawsuit challenging the state's new method of collecting business taxes.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David Cain dismissed the lawsuit in February.

The new rules allow business owners the option of filing net-profit income-tax returns with the Ohio Department of Taxation, instead of with the municipality in which they do business. The lawsuit claimed the provision was unconstitutional.

Under the new system, the state processes business tax returns and sends the money back to local governments, charging a half-percentage-point fee for the service.

Businesses had pushed for the changes for years.

Green said Groveport will schedule taxpayer-education events beginning the first of the year. More information will be provided before the transition to RITA.

"We expect this to be a smooth, transparent process," Green said.

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