Each year, as April 15 approaches, it becomes an almost-daily occurrence for a resident to ask me a question about the impact of their local income-tax dollars in Whitehall.
Taxes are certainly not everyone's favorite topic, but having previously served as your city auditor, I've become accustomed to helping explain our local process.
In answering these questions, I like to take a step back and dive into how the city receives tax dollars from our residents, and more frequently in the case of income tax, from Whitehall businesses or from those who work in Whitehall but live elsewhere.
Despite income tax being a primary source of revenue for the city -- more than 54% of general-fund income in 2019 -- I find it's often misunderstood.
That's not surprising, because even Ohio natives familiar with how local income tax works could be tripped up by rates and rules regarding credits that vary on a city-by-city basis.
Considering more than two-thirds of all of Ohio's 900-plus municipalities levy a local income tax, those differences can be a lot to keep track of.
One constant does hold true across Ohio: Your local income tax is paid first to the city in which you work, and secondarily to the city in which you live. Yet not all cities provide the same credits (sometimes known as offering reciprocity).
For example, while Whitehall has levied a 2.5% tax rate since 2011 and offers a 100% credit on local income tax paid to other cities, the town next door may also levy 2.5% but offer no credit. A resident in that town then would be obligated to pay local income tax to the city in which they work and an additional 2.5% to the city in which they live.
While this may sound confusing, what is clear is that income-tax revenue is playing a vital role in Whitehall's comeback story.
Since increasing the income tax rate from 2% to 2.5% in 2011, the city's income-tax revenues have steadily grown from the $20.73 million we received in 2011 to $27.34 million in 2019.
This growth has been accelerated by our ever-expanding business community, which is continually adding new individual payroll and corporate tax base.
In turn, the increased revenue has opened new doors to the city, allowing us to increase reinvestment into our aging infrastructure, support innovative new public-safety programs and reinvent our parks and recreational programming, all while continuing our progressive economic development efforts.
While all this progress benefits residents, the vast majority of individual income-tax revenue comes from nonresidents, as only about 17% of city residents work in Whitehall.
Similarly, income tax does not apply to those on fixed incomes, such as our residents who receive Social Security benefits.
A reminder, though, that while you may not owe income tax, all Whitehall residents who earned income in 2019 are required to file a local income-tax form. Forms can be filed via the city's website, whitehall-oh.us.
The city auditor's office provides extended hours from 8 a.m. to noon April 4 and 11 at the Municipal Building, 360 S. Yearling Road, for those who need a little help.
While tax season may come too soon and bring questions for some, know that the city is taking its role in being good stewards of your tax dollars seriously.
Those who have further questions about the process or about how your tax dollars are being invested into the community should not hesitate to contact my office.
Kim Maggard is mayor of Whitehall.