As promised, here is the next and final installment of “An Agricultural Employer’s 2021 Tax Obligations: A Series” discussing an agricultural employer’s requirements and obligations under Ohio law. This installment of the series provides an overview of Ohio employment taxes and additional employer obligations for Ohio’s agricultural employers. This series covers an employer’s Ohio tax obligations and requirements that arise simply because a business has employees. This series does not cover the business income or personal income tax reporting obligations of agricultural employers.
We first discuss Ohio’s income and school district taxes and then we focus on Ohio’s unemployment insurance tax and Ohio’s workers’ compensation requirement for all employers. The information contained within this series is not meant to be legal and/or tax advice, it is for educational purposes only. Agricultural employers should seek out the counsel and guidance of an attorney or other tax professional to help ensure compliance with Ohio tax law.
OHIO EMPLOYER WITHHOLDING TAX.
Ohio Employer Withholding Tax. Generally, employers are required to withhold Ohio income tax and school district tax from employees’ wages. However, under Ohio law, Agricultural employers are not required to withhold Ohio taxes from wages paid to employees, so long as the employees fall under the definition of agricultural labor in 26 U.S.C. § 3121(g). “Agricultural labor” includes all services performed:
- on a farm, in the employ of any person, in connection with the cultivating, raising, and/or harvesting of any agricultural or horticultural commodity; or
- in the employ of the owner or other operator of a farm, in connection with the operation, management, conservation, or maintenance of such farm and its tools and equipment.
Can Ohio’s Agricultural Employers Agree to Willingly Withhold Ohio’s Taxes? In short, the answer is yes. An agricultural employee must still pay Ohio income tax and their local school district tax on all income earned throughout the year. If an employee does not have their Ohio taxes withheld from their pay, they may be required to make quarterly estimated tax payments to the state. Because of this, an employee may request their employer to withhold their Ohio taxes from each paycheck. An agricultural employer is under no obligation to withhold Ohio taxes, but some do.
Ohio Withholding Exemption Certificate. It is important that each employer, even an agricultural employer, have its employees complete an Employee’s Withholding Exemption Certificate (Ohio IT 4). For agricultural employers that are not going to withhold Ohio’s taxes, it must have each employee check the box next to “I am exempt from Ohio withholding under R.C. 5747.06(A)(1) through (6)” under Section III of Form IT 4. If no Ohio IT 4 is completed, then an employer must withhold the Ohio’s taxes from an employee’s wages.
Ohio requires an employer to keep Ohio IT 4 in its records for at least four years and must make it available to the Ohio Department of Taxation upon request.
Registering as an Ohio Withholding Agent. Employers that are required (or choose) to withhold Ohio’s taxes from employees’ wages must register with the Ohio Department of Taxation. This can be done one of three ways.
- By internet. Registration can be completed online through the Ohio Business Gateway.
- By phone. Call 1-888-405-4089, listen for the message, and then press 2 to connect with an agent.
- By mail or fax. Complete Application for Registration as an Ohio Withholding Agent (Ohio IT 1) and mail it to the address provided on the form or fax it to the Ohio Department of Taxation at (614) 387-2165.
How Much Ohio Income Tax Should an Employer Withhold? To determine how much Ohio income tax to withhold, visit the Ohio Department of Taxation’s Employer Withholding Tables website.
How Much School District Tax Should an Employer Withhold? School districts impose a tax using one of two methods: traditional or earned income. School district tax rates and a district’s method of taxation can be found on the Ohio Department of Taxation’s “Employer Withholding: Table of Contents” website.
For traditional tax base school districts, an employer must use the same wage base and number of exemptions they use when calculating the employee’s Ohio income tax rate. For earned income tax base school districts, an employer must withhold at a flat rate equal to the school district’s tax rate with no reduction or adjustment for personal exemptions.
An employee’s school district is determined by the address of the employee’s residence. School districts and the corresponding four-digit codes can be found at https://www.tax.ohio.gov/finder or by contacting the applicable county auditor.
Electronic Filing Requirement. Employers are required to file and pay Ohio income and school district withholding taxes electronically. The easiest way to do this is through the Ohio Business Gateway.
Filing Frequency and Payment of Ohio’s Employer Withholding Tax. An employer’s filing frequency is determined by the combined amount of Ohio and school district income taxes that were withheld or required to be withheld during the look-back period. Ohio’s look-back period is the 12-month period ending June 30th of the preceding calendar year. An employer’s filing frequency is re-evaluated every year.
Ohio’s Income Tax Filing Frequency:
Quarterly. Ohio employers that withheld $2,000 or less in Ohio taxes will be required to file and pay taxes every calendar quarter. Ohio’s form IT 501 and payment are due by the last day of the month following each calendar quarter.
Monthly. Ohio employers that withheld more than $2,000 but less than $84,000 in Ohio taxes will be required to file and pay taxes every month. Form IT 501 and payment are due within 15 days after the end of each month.
Partial-weekly. Ohio employers that withheld $84,000 or more in Ohio taxes are required to make payment of withheld taxes within three banking days from the end of each “partial-weekly period.” There is no form that is required to be filed each time tax payments are filed. There are two “partial-weekly periods” in which an employer can be categorized. An employer’s partial weekly period depends on the day it issues payroll.
Partial-weekly Period 1: An employer is in period 1 if it issues payroll on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday.
Partial-weekly Period 2: An employer is in period 2 if it issues payroll on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.
Remember, payment is due within three banking days from the end of each period. So, if an employer issues payroll on Wednesday, it must submit payment of Ohio taxes within three banking days starting on Friday.
School District Tax Filing Frequency. School district tax filing frequency is the same as an employer’s Ohio income tax filing frequency except for employers that qualify as partial-weekly filers. Partial-weekly employers are required to file school district tax on a monthly basis. Every time an employer files and remits the school district tax they must complete “Payment of School District Income Tax Withheld” (Ohio SD 101), which can be found on the Ohio Business Gateway.
Quarterly and Annual Forms. An employer’s filing obligations do not end by filing the above forms each time it remits payment of Ohio’s taxes. The following are additional forms that must be completed by an employer either on a quarterly or yearly basis. Not every form listed below needs to be completed by every employer. Certain forms correspond with an employer’s filing frequency classification. These forms can be found on the Ohio Business Gateway.
Quarterly/Monthly Filers. Employers that qualify to file and pay Ohio income taxe on a quarterly or monthly basis must file an “Annual Reconciliation of Income Tax Withheld” (Ohio IT 941). Ohio IT 941 is typically due no later than January 31 of the following year (the 2021 tax year deadline has been extended to March 2, 2022). The total tax withheld on Ohio IT 941 must equal the amount reported on Ohio IT 3 (discussed below).
Partial-weekly Filers. Employers that must pay Ohio taxes on a partial-weekly basis must file a “Quarterly Reconciliation of Income Tax Withheld” (Ohio IT 942) by the last day of each month following a calendar quarter for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Quarters. A different Ohio IT 942 form titled “4th Quarter/Annual Reconciliation of Income Tax Withheld” is to be filed by partial-weekly employers by January 31 of the following year (the 2021 tax year deadline has been extended to March 2, 2022). Partial-weekly employers do not submit Ohio IT 941.
“Transmittal of W-2 and 1099-R Statements” (Ohio IT 3). All employers must submit Ohio IT 3, which can be done electronically on the Ohio Business Gateway. Ohio IT 3 requires an employer to report and upload employee W-2s/1099-Rs. The amount of Ohio taxes withheld and paid by an employer must match the information contained within the W-2s and 1099-Rs. Ohio IT 3 is usually due by January 31 of the following year (the 2021 tax year deadline has been extended to March 2, 2022).
“Annual Reconciliation of School District Income Tax Withheld” (Ohio SD 141). Employers must also submit Ohio SD 141, which can be done electronically on the Ohio Business Gateway. Ohio SD 141 compares the amount of school district tax withheld and paid by an employer and the information contained within the W-2s and 1099-Rs uploaded when an employer files Ohio IT 3 (see above). The amount of school district tax withheld and paid should match the information contained within the W-2s and 1099-Rs submitted by an employer. Ohio SD 141 is usually due by January 31 of the following year (the 2021 tax year deadline has been extended to March 2, 2022).
OHIO UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE TAX.
When are Agricultural Employers required to pay Ohio’s Unemployment Insurance? Agricultural employers must pay the Ohio Unemployment insurance tax if it:
- Paid cash wages of $20,000 or more in a calendar to agricultural employees in the current calendar year or the preceding calendar year; or
- Had at least 10 agricultural employees for some portion of a day in 20 different weeks in the current year or the preceding year
Other Ways Employers can Become Liable for Ohio’s Unemployment Insurance Tax. An employer can also be required to pay the Ohio Unemployment Insurance tax if it:
- Is subject to the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (“FUTA”) in either the current calendar year or preceding calendar year.
- Acquires a business that was subject to Ohio’s unemployment insurance tax.
- Elects to cover its employees voluntarily.
Employer Must Report Its Own Liability. Employers are required to report liability by filing “Report to Determine Liability” (JFS 20100) to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (the “ODJFS”), which can be done online at https://thesource.jfs.ohio.gov. The ODJFS will determine an employer’s liability based on the information provided in JFS 20100. If an employer is deemed to be liable for Ohio Unemployment Insurance, the ODJFS will issue a 10-digit employer account number.
Employer Reporting. Liable employers are required to file quarterly reports to the ODJFS. Agricultural employers that must pay into the Ohio unemployment insurance fund must file the “Employer’s Wage Detail Report” and the “Quarterly Summary Report.” Employers who had no workers or paid no wages during a quarter are still required to file the above-mentioned reports. Employers with fewer than 200 employees should file their quarterly reports by using the Ohio Business Gateway or ODJFS’s “The SOURCE Online” The reports must be filed no later than the last day of the month following the end of a calendar quarter.
Employer Contributions. Like FUTA, only the employer is responsible for Ohio’s unemployment insurance tax. Payments made into the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund are called “contributions.” Contribution rates are determined by an employer’s “experience rating” which is a measure of how much an employer has paid in unemployment taxes and has been charged in benefits. For more information about contribution rates, visit https://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/uctax/rates.stm.
Contributions are due no later than the last day of the month following the end of a calendar quarter. To determine how much tax is due each quarter, an employer multiplies its unemployment tax rate by the amount of taxable wages paid during the quarter. Contributions must be made each quarter until the “taxable wage base” for each employee has been met. The taxable wage base for 2022 is $9,000. This means that an employer is only required to pay its unemployment insurance tax rate on the first $9,000 dollars earned by each employee. If an employer is unable to make a contribution, the unpaid balance will bear an annual interest rate of 14%, compounded monthly.
OHIO WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
While not technically a “tax,” every employer in the state of Ohio, with one or more employees, must have workers’ compensation coverage. This includes agricultural employers. There are, however, certain businesses that do not have to carry workers compensation coverage. These businesses include:
- Sole proprietors with no employees
- Partnerships with no employees
- Family farm corporations with no employees
- Limited liability company acting as a sole proprietorship with no employees
- Limited liability company acting as a partnership with no employees
As you can see, the common attribute shared by the exempt businesses listed above is the fact that those businesses have no employees. What this means is that if anyone, other than an owner, is performing services for a business and being paid for those services, then the business is required to carry workers’ compensation coverage. So, for example, if a couple owns and operates a small family farm corporation and only the couple performs the work on the farm, then workers’ compensation coverage is not required.
Elective Workers’ Compensation Coverage. For those employers that are not required to carry workers’ compensation coverage, they may still elect to do so. Oftentimes, businesses elect to carry workers’ compensation insurance to prevent the devastating side effects of a serious injury sustained by an owner. Using the example of the family farm corporation from above, if the couple decides not to carry workers’ compensation coverage and one of them is injured while farming, their health insurance company may deny their claim because the injury was work-related. Generally, on-the-job injuries must be covered through workers’ compensation, not an individual’s health insurance. So, the couple could begin to amass a large sum in medical bills due to the lack of insurance coverage, possibly bankrupting the farm corporation.
Applying for Workers’ Compensation Coverage. Employers required to carry workers’ compensation coverage must apply for coverage by submitting the “Application for Coverage (U-3)” to Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (“BWC”) which can be found at https://www.bwc.ohio.gov/employercoverage. Employers electing to obtain coverage can apply by submitting the “Application for or Request to Cancel Elective Coverage (U-3S)” which can be found by visiting https://info.bwc.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/bwc/for-employers/employer-forms/application-for-request-cancel-elective-coverage.
Workers’ Compensation Premiums. The BWC calculates an employer’s premium based on several factors, including total payroll, type of work performed by employees, and an employer’s workplace injury record.
Premium Payments. Installment payments of an employer’s premium is based upon a schedule chosen by the employer. The BWC will send an invoice to each employer for premium/installment payments. Payments can be made through an e-account on the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation website.
Alternative Premium Rate Plans. It’s no secret that workers’ compensation insurance can be a costly expense for an employer. However, the BWC does have alternative premium rate plans for employers looking to reduce the cost of workers’ compensation insurance. These alternative rate plans allow employers that operate similar businesses to join together to potentially achieve a lower premium rate than they could obtain as individual employers. For more information on alternative premium rate plans visit https://www.bwc.ohio.gov/downloads/blankpdf/altrate.pdf.
Conclusion. This series was split into two posts because of the massive amount of information presented. However, the broad overview of this series was very surface level. There are many exemptions, exceptions, alternate requirements, or additional requirements based on an employer’s unique circumstances that we did not cover for the sake of brevity. That is why is it important to speak with an attorney or other tax professional so that they can help you navigate federal and state tax laws to make sure you are fulfilling your obligations as an employer and to address any questions or concerns that you may have.
References and Resources:
Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 4123, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-administrative-code/4123
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, BWC Basics for Employers, https://www.bwc.ohio.gov/downloads/blankpdf/BWCBASICS.pdf
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, Workers’ Compensation Overview, https://info.bwc.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/bwc/for-employers/workers-compensation-overview
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Employer’s Guide to Ohio Unemployment Insurance,http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/num/JFS08201/pdf/
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Unemployment Insurance: Employer Resource Hub, https://unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/employer/
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, UI Tax for New Employers, https://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/uctax/UITaxForNewEmployers.stm
Ohio Department of Taxation, 2022 Ohio Employer and School District Withholding Tax Filing Guidelines,https://tax.ohio.gov/static/employer_withholding/2021%20filing%20guidelines%20updates_rev%2012-22-21.pdf
Ohio Department of Taxation, Estimated Payments, https://tax.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/tax/individual/resources/estimated-payments
Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4141, Unemployment Compensation, https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/chapter-4141
Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4123, Workers’ Compensation, https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/chapter-4123
Ohio Revised Code Chapter 5747, Income Tax, https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/chapter-5747
Ohio Revised Code Chapter 5748, School District Income Tax, https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/chapter-5748