Tax time is coming again. I know… I’m not fond of it either.
As we get closer to the April deadline, the Tax Department will be open the following extended hours to help you complete your Middletown tax return, including two Saturday mornings:
Saturday, April 2: 9 am-12 pm
Thursday, April 14: 8 am-6 pm
Friday, April 15: 7 am-6 pm
Saturday, April 16: 9 am-12 pm
Monday, April 18: 7 am-7 pm
The Tax Department is located on the second floor of the City building. As you get off of the elevator, turn right and you should see us right past the double doors.
The Tax Department web page with frequently asked questions is located here:
As your former prosecutor, I can tell you that many citizens don’t realize that when they go to a professional tax preparer, the preparer often does not complete your local city return for you. I’ve had several people in court who had their federal and state returns filed but didn’t realize that the preparer didn’t complete and file the local return.
Each city has its own process, and my guess is that many national companies simply don’t know the rules for each city that they serve. That isn’t a complaint against tax preparers, just make sure as you have someone complete your taxes for the year that you know whether they did or did not prepare the local return as part of the process. If they did not, come on in and we’d be happy to help.
The Tax Department has been one of the areas where I have received a lot of complaints from residents and businesses. Some of them are due to the confusing nature of tax forms, tax laws, etc., but a large number of them stem from the customer service our Tax Department has provided to the public. I have good news and bad news. Some of it is better, some of it is not.
During the past year, we have removed a couple employees who did not get the message that we exist for the sole purpose of providing services to our residents. When the city pretty much demands that you give us money in taxes, there is a natural conflict there. I need your money to provide services… you need that money to live your life. How we as a government handle that conflict makes a huge difference in how our government is perceived. We need to competently and professionally help you correctly complete your tax form with good information and compassionate understanding that you may not understand all the nuances of tax law. I think we are better at doing that than we were last year, and I hope that we have less complaints as crunch time approaches.
We are also having a half-day customer service training program at the end of May with all city employees that regularly provide customer service to our residents and businesses. We generally do a good job… and we are looking to improve.
That being said, we still have a lot of work to do and it will not be completed by this year’s tax deadline.
We are running short staffed. I do not have a Tax Superintendent on staff right now, so the Finance Director and Assistant Finance Director will be filling that role in addition to their regular duties. Not ideal, but it will be a temporary problem at tax time this year. We are looking for the right individual with the knowledge, education, and temperament to best fill that position.
The tax laws changed this year. The changes require totally new tax software, new processes, and changes to the way we do business. We are working on this, as is every other city in Ohio. My guess is that between new software bugs, training, and human error, we will bump our heads a few times getting the new system up and running.
Finally, we need to be able to let you file your taxes online. We are behind the times in this area. When I lived in Mason, filing city taxes was about a 10 minute online process and as long as the math worked and you filled in the right spaces on the online form, it was a painless, quick process. I’ve instructed the Finance Department that I would like to have this in place by the time we move to next year’s tax season. There are a number of changes that have to take place to make that happen, so we will be working with the goal of having an online filing option available next year.
To the procrastinators out there… you know the drill. If you wait until the last weekend, you will be waiting in long lines at the city building to get your return completed. We spend whatever time is necessary to get each resident’s return completed correctly and filed. It takes as long as it takes for each person. It works much easier when you come in before the last weekend. Just sayin’…..
Have a great Easter weekend!