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Tax Commissioners News Release
December 11, 2000  -  Columbus, Ohio  -  Bureaucracy Reduced in Estate Tax Administration
Ohio Tax Commissioner Thomas Zaino has taken three more steps to reduce bureaucracy and save Ohio citizens and the Department of Taxation time, money and aggravation.

These steps are all in the administration of estate taxes.

Currently, the taxation department requires financial institutions to freeze accounts of more than $2,500 of a person who dies, pending the presentation of a tax release form. As of January 1, 2001 the threshold is raised to $25,000. This will eliminate 75 percent of the 300,000 releases currently obtained each year.

Today, a financial institution must deny access to a safe deposit box upon the death of its owner until the county auditor has inventoried it.

"We are eliminating that requirement altogether because we have found that most safe deposit boxes are empty when they are inventoried anyway," Zaino said. This will eliminate about 11,000 inventories of safe deposit boxes annually.

The final change relates to the request for extending the deadline to file an estate tax return. Previously, estate tax returns were required to be filed within nine months of the decedentís death date, and anyone requesting a six-month extension needed to file a form requesting the extension.

"Since all of the requests were granted anyway, we eliminated the requirement that a formal written request be filed for the first six month extension," Zaino said. That means estates will have a total of 15 months to file the return. This relieves estates from the burden of filing about 3,000 forms per year. A request will have to be filed and good cause shown for additional six-month extensions. This change is available to all estates with dates of death after Jan. 1, 2000.

"These changes are part of our on-going commitment to eliminate needless and inefficient steps in the way we administer taxes," Zaino said. Employees of the departmentís estate tax division recommended the changes.

Zaino is able to make the procedural changes outlined above by virtue of his position as tax commissioner, which also makes him the administrator of the Ohio Department of Taxation.

In other developments in estate taxes in Ohio, tax credits increase on Jan. 1, 2001 and again on Jan. 1, 2002 due to legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Bob Taft last summer.

For estates with a death date on or after Jan. 1, 2001, no estate tax return will be required to be filed if the gross estate is $200,000 or less. For estates with dates of death on or after Jan. 1, 2002, no estate tax return will be required to be filed if the gross estate is $338,333 or less.

New legislation also permits a reduction in estate taxes for qualified family-owned businesses.

The Ohio Department of Taxationís Estate Tax Division has processed about 55,000 estate tax returns this year.

For more information contact:

Gary Gudmundson, Communications Director
Ohio Department of Taxation
(614) 644-6903