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It's Tax Day — or not

Zoe Greszler • Apr 15, 2017 at 10:00 AM

It’s Tax Day! Oops, but not this year. 

Normally tax payers nationwide fret the coming of April 15, the usual Tax Day. Not ready for it yet? Don’t worry. This year everyone has three extra days to finish putting together Uncle Sam’s dues.

With April 15 falling on a Saturday this year, that normally would mean Monday would be the backup date. But Washington, the IRS’ home base, celebrates Emancipation Day on April 17 — because April 16, the day it is usually celebrated, is Sunday — giving you a three-day deadline extension of Tuesday, April 18.

This year brought another change too — Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA).

On Jan. 1, Norwalk began using RITA for the filing and collecting of city income tax.

Norwalk individuals and net-profit returns from businesses are filed taxes online through this agency. They also have the option to send paperwork to RITA.

“RITA offers a full range of online filing and payment options for your convenience,” the city posted on its website.

“Norwalk chose to go with RITA so people can go online,” finance director Diane Eschen previously told the Reflector. “Some cities still have their own tax departments.”

Some local citizens really enjoyed the modern change. Among them is Claudia Showalter Simons, who said RITA made things “incredibly easy!”

Simons said she “definitely” hopes Norwalk will continue with the agency for next year’s tax season.

Norwalk's Rebecca Stogner is in agreement.

"Yes, bring it back!" Stogner said. "This was the easiest it's ever been. Took all of five minutes and no errors. Definitely do not want to go back to the old way.”

Others were less than thrilled with the switch.

“Not a fan,” Norwalk resident Stephen David said. “A city that burdens their citizens with a tax should administer it, not farm it out.”

“As for me, I always liked walking into city hall, handing in my tax forms and having a city employee give them a quick scan to see if I had forgotten anything or computed something wrong,” said a Norwalk man named Jim. “This new method, if you have not already done it — it’s really different in the modern, impersonal, online way.”

Some shared pros and cons with RITA.

“I do our taxes myself using the free online tax services through irs.gov and the Ohio tax site,” said a 47-year-old Norwalk man.

“I was glad the city went to this method, because Norwalk's was always the hardest one to do — by far. The form was more complicated — once the city tax office wasn't allowed to do it anymore — and the process required I print a copy of the 1040 and attach the W2's. Now, it's completely paperless and the form is much easier to compete.

“That being said, when I tried to sign in for the first time, it wouldn't let me. So I called the help number, and a woman began assisting me. At some point, perhaps when she realized why it wasn't working, she ended the call without saying anything — no ‘goodbye’; ‘have a nice day’; ‘I'm done with you now’ … nothing! After dead air, and no responses to my inquiries, I hung up and tried to sign in an hour later. It worked. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and conclude she might have been having a bad day.”

About 250 Ohio municipalities already were using RITA when Norwalk made the decision last summer to go this route.

At the time, Eschen said contracting with RITA might cost the city an extra $30,000 per year after all is said and done.

“This is fabulous for the city,” Councilman Stephen Schumm said last summer, citing the benefits of having “a coordination of services” as opposed to having “part-time people doing this and part-time people doing that.”

Schumm also said the RITA system would likely improve overall tax collection. “We wouldn’t have anybody falling through the cracks,” he added.

Mayor Duncan and others in management with the city taxes could not be reached for comment Friday.

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