Sales taxes to even out next month

The state's sales tax increase is slated to go away.
WARREN -- The Ohio Department of Taxation is telling Trumbull County that its two new quarter-percent sales taxes won't be noticed by consumers starting July 1.
That's because the state's sales tax will be decreased by a half percent at the same time.
The state's Sales and Use Tax Division has received the county commissioners' tax resolutions, levying the two additional sales taxes effective July 1.
Ohio's sales tax went from 5 percent to 6 percent July 1, 2003. The state budget bill that increased the sales tax rate also calls for the increase to end July 1. On that date, the Ohio sales tax rate is scheduled to return to 5 percent.
"There will be no change in the total combined sales and use tax rate for your county," Diane L. Skunza, the tax division's supervisor, notified Trumbull County commissioners this week.
"We will begin the process of preparing notifications to taxpayers that your combined sales and use tax rate will experience no change and that the rate will remain 6.5 percent," she explained.
The county already collects a half-percent sales tax; the two new taxes would make the county's total sales tax rate 1 percent.
One tax is an emergency quarter-percent additional sales tax for criminal justice services, such as the sheriff; the other is for general county operations. Both are for a continuing period.
The taxes are on retail sales. Each quarter-percent tax would generate about $400,000 per month, or about $4.8 million a year, if collections remain steady.
The money could ease the county's financial problems at year's end; the full benefit will come in 2006 and thereafter, officials said.
This year it's too late to negate the layoffs and reduced hours already in place for offices such as the sheriff, recorder and treasurer. The county's $32 million general fund budget for 2005 is $6 million short, officials said. Along with the layoffs, court funding has been kept at 2004 levels.
Opponents' efforts to force the two quarter-percent taxes to the ballot in November have so far been unsuccessful.

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