Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ohio Tax Quiz-Will You Pass It?

Guest Column from State Representative Jim Buchy

Our tax filing deadline is upon us. This year, all the buzz is about the new Ohio Tax Quiz, which is a requirement to get your refund if you fall into certain categories considered high risk for tax fraud. The goal is to ensure refund recipients are proving their identity, thus reducing fraud.

The state of Ohio has contracted with LexisNexis to build a fraud reduction system for Ohio that is unique to this state. The test consists of 4 questions and, to pass, you must obtain a score of 3 out of 4. It is administered up to two times online, and then up to two more times over the phone if needed.

The test developers have to compile 16 separate questions for every individual tested. The information used for the questions was collected from many public and commercial data sources. I have heard that questions on the test have, at times, been extremely outdated, offensive, and sometimes unsettling.

The Ohio Tax Department is reporting 97 percent of those responding have been able to pass the test. For those unable to pass, some may be committing fraud, and others will have to take a considerable amount of time and effort to prove that they are truly entitled to their refund.

The statistic that most alarms me is that through the end of February, more than 150,000 tax filers have failed to even attempt to take the test within two weeks of receiving the letter. The Ohio Tax Department believes a majority of these individuals are probably filing claims fraudulently. I am concerned that many of the people in this group did not understand the requirement to take the quiz before they could get their refund. If your state refund has been outstanding for more than 30 days and you think you may have received a letter encouraging you to take this test, please contact my office for assistance with this issue.

This test was not a legislative initiative, but I am still concerned about its impact. I am uneasy about the costs to administer it, and am also curious if the benefits of this program outweigh the hassle to Ohio’s tax payers.

The tax commissioner put together this program without legislative consultation and to-date I have had many concerned citizens contact my office because of the struggles involved with the roll-out. Although, the tax commissioner contacted the lion’s share of Ohio’s tax preparers, the department failed to inform tax payers of this new obstacle to getting their money back.

It is important that we examine the effectiveness of this test and go back to the drawing board if need be to determine if it is really necessary. If not, we must seek better ways to reduce instances of fraud.

Please give me your opinion on this topic and others in the news this month by completing an online survey at

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