February 23, 2022
Ohio updates Internal Revenue Code conformity date
On February 17, 2022, Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 51 (HB 51), which amends Ohio Rev. Code Section 5701.11(A) to incorporate changes to the Internal Revenue Code taking effect after March 31, 2021, and before February 17, 2022. The incorporated changes include those made by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in November 2021. These changes affect the tax base of taxpayers subject to Ohio individual income tax by adjusting federal adjusted gross income,1 which is the starting point for determining a taxpayer's Ohio taxable income. HB 51 articulates a clear legislative intent that the change to the Ohio conformity date is an emergency measure and is intended to "enable [Ohio] taxpayers to avoid making miscellaneous adjustments on their 2021 tax returns that increase costs of compliance" and therefore, "shall go into immediate effect."
HB 51 amends Ohio Rev. Code Section 5701.11(B), which authorizes a taxpayer whose tax year ended after March 27, 2020, and before March 31, 2021, to irrevocably elect to apply the federal tax laws effective for that tax year to the taxpayer's state tax calculation. The election is available to (1) taxpayers who were subject to the individual income tax, and (2) electric and telephone companies subject to municipal net profits taxes. HB 51 allows taxpayers with a tax year ending after March 31, 2021, but before February 17, 2022 (the incorporation provision's effective date) to make this election. HB 51 specifies that similar elections made under prior versions of the law remain effective for the tax years to which the previous elections applied.
Ohio is a "fixed date" conformity state for purposes of its conformity to the Internal Revenue Code. Accordingly, amendments to federal law do not automatically become part of Ohio's tax law unless they are specifically incorporated by the legislature, generally by adopting changes to the conformity date described in Ohio Rev. Code Section 5701.11(A). If federal tax law amendments are not incorporated into Ohio's law, affected taxpayers would have to adjust federal adjusted gross income or taxable income, either by adding or subtracting the relevant amounts, to compute their Ohio individual income tax liability. HB 51 fixes this issue by updating the conformity date.
1 The most significant federal tax law change affecting Ohio's tax law is the modification of the federal income tax treatment of contributions to the capital of a corporation. The IIJA modification allows certain regulated water and sewer utilities in Ohio to exclude from gross income amounts that qualify as a taxpayer's contributions of capital. If such a utility is organized as a pass-through entity and owned by individuals, such reduced gross income would lead to reduced federal adjusted gross income.