How do I register my farm name in Ohio?

By: David L. Marrison, OSU Extension Educator & Associate Professor

A recent question received by the Ohio Ag Manager Team was: “How do I register my farm’s name in Ohio?” First, remember that choosing the right name for your farm business is important. Your farm’s name should be memorable and let customers know the purpose of your business.

From a legal perspective, business names must be registered with the secretary of state in Ohio if the business engages in commerce under any name other than the legal name of the owners (for sole proprietorship and partnerships) or if the business is a corporation or limited liability company.

The Ohio Secretary of State approves and keeps a registry of business names. Ohio law requires that new business names do not conflict with other previously registered business names. Some business names are subject to additional restrictions and/or requirements. It is important to register your business name before applying for your Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN) with the Internal Revenue System.

Your business name can be registered with as a trade name or a fictitious name. The difference between the two is that a trade name must be distinguishable from any other registered trade name and cannot be used by others once it is registered. A fictitious name does not have to be distinguishable and is not protected from use by another business. Registration of a fictitious name does not give the user any exclusive right to use the name. Fictitious names are often used when a business wants to become a franchise.

The registration fee for a trade name or fictitious name is $50 and the registration is effective for five years. The registration must be renewed at some point within the six months before the registration expires. Upon filing the renewal, the name is registered for an additional five years. If no renewal is timely filed, the name registration expires. The current renewal fee is $25.

Complete application procedures and forms can be found at the Ohio Secretary’s of State’s web site at:

Click here for FORM 534 (Name Registration for Ohio)

OSU Extension to Host Preparatory Classes for Tax Preparers Taking the RTRP Exam

By: David Marrison & Chris Bruynis, OSU Extension Educators

OSU Extension and the OSU Income Tax School Program is pleased to be offering assistance for individuals who are preparing to take the new Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) competency test in 2012. In 2011, the Internal Revenue System began the roll-in of new requirements for individuals who prepare tax returns. 

Beginning January 1, 2011, all paid preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number.  Existing PTIN holders must pass a competency exam by the end of 2013. Attorneys, Certified Public Accounts and Enrolled Agents are exempt from the testing requirement. In addition to a competency exam, IRS Registered Tax Return Preparers will be required to take continuing education in the future.

The OSU Income Tax School program will be offering two educational options to help tax preparers prepare for these tests. The first available option is a study at home option. Through a partnership with Fast Forward Academy, participants can study at home and access an on-line test bank of questions.  The cost of the at home materials is $99 for the study guide and access to a 200 question test bank or $179 for the study guide and access to a 700 question test bank and unlimited practice exams.

The second option is to attend one of four one-day preparatory workshops across Ohio in June. These workshops will be held in Xenia, Burton, Powell, and Bowling Green. Learn from our great OSU and IRS Instructors at these workshops and get the study materials and on-line test bank as a bonus.  The workshops are approved by the IRS Return Preparer Office for 8 hours of CE credit in the category of “RTRP Test Preparation.  Lunch, program handouts, FastForward Study Guide, on-line test bank, and refreshments are included. 

Registration must be completed (postmarked or via web) by midnight, May 25. There is an additional $20 late registration fee. There are two registrations for the workshop.  The first option is $199 which includes the day long preparatory workshop, study guide and access to the 200 question test bank.  The second option is $279 which includes the day long preparatory workshop, study guide, access to a 700 question test bank and unlimited practice exams.

Registration is available via credit card on-line or by check via mail-in registration.  More information about both of these options can be found at the following web site:

More details about the workshop can be obtained by contacting David Marrison at or 440-576-9008.

Farm Accounting Systems: Ledger vs. Computerized

By: Bruce Clevenger, Assistant Professor & Extension Educator

Farm financial records are necessary for accurate, end-of-year tax reporting.  While tax reporting is a necessity, farm financial records should do more for the farm manager.  A record system needs to be designed to meet the needs of the farm manager and every effort should be made to keep it simple, yet complete enough to include details needed for analysis and tax purposes. 

Before selecting a farm accounting system, farm managers should ask, “what do I need to know about the farm business to make good economic decisions?”  If realistic trigger market prices are difficult to select, maybe a cost of production per unit report is needed.  If cash is short at times when bills are due, maybe a cash flow analysis is needed.  If the income is realized months or a year after the expenses are incurred, maybe an accrual income statement or enterprise analysis is needed.  Changes in inventories of crop and livestock, depreciation and capital gains or losses may comprise a significant part of annual earnings.  These must be accounted for to gain a true picture of the financial status and growth.

Paper ledgers serve as the standard for many farm operations to track financial records.  Ledgers are published by universities and some financial institutions to help farm managers track income and expenses by month on sheets that are manually totaled and subtotaled by category (Schedule F line).  The ledger still is an acceptable system and with year-end calculations, many of the financial management questions can be answered about the farm business with a paper ledger system.

A computerized farm accounting systems does not, or should not, promise a time savings for data entry right away.  In fact, during the adoption of a computerized farm accounting system, farm managers will need to spend the necessary time to organize the computerized system to best mirror the way the farm operates.  This means, having a place to record the kinds of income and expenses seen on the farm.  No different than finding a row or column in a ledger that best describes the transaction.  Computerized systems will more likely have a time savings when the farm manager needs to summarize and analyze transactions.

In general, the more specific questions the farm manager wants to answer, the more detailed the data entry must be, regardless if the farm account system is a paper ledger or a computerized system.   Greater value can be placed on a farm accounting system that can track income and expenses from one tax-reporting year to the next, because in reality, it happens on the farm.  An example: the 2011 crop was sold in 2012 but had pre-paid/fall applied expenses in 2010.  The “across tax-reporting year” is referred to as accrual accounting.  Accrual records track the income and expenses of the production unit produced regardless of the year the transactions occurred.   A short fall of the calendar year basis tax return is it only summarizes the income and expenses that occurred during calendar year rather than tracking expenses that belong to the actual income generated by those expenses.  It is not recommended to make production economic decisions about the farm operation based on the annual tax return other than income tax management.

Some farm managers have an emotional gauge or their “gut” to analyze income and expenses.  However, a farm accounting system will be more accurate for continual analysis and communicating the performance of the farm with others involved with the business.   At a minimum, two types of records are needed. One record is needed for financial transactions to summarize and analyze the year’s business.   A second record of the farm inventories and depreciation is needed year-over-year to account for changes of “on-hand” assets.  Additionally, it is recommended for farm managers complete an annual balance sheet and an accrual income statement.   Keeping, analyzing and using good farm records will yield high returns for the time spent.  A few minutes spent on the records each day will insure completeness and accuracy and will minimize the job at the end of the year.

Contact your local OSU Extension office for farm accounting books.  Contact Bruce Clevenger ( for OSU Extension Computerized Farm Recordkeeping Workshops and Resources with Quicken.

OSU to host Second Annual Ohio Oil and Gas Law Symposium

The second Ohio Oil and Gas Law Symposium will take place on Friday, May 25 at Longaberger Golf Club in Nashport, Ohio.  The day long program, hosted by OSU Extension’s Agricultural & Resource Law Program, aims at enhancing legal education for attorneys–particularly attorneys working with landowners.  The agenda addresses current legal issues in shale energy development and consists of:

  • Preemption of Authority over Oil and Gas DevelopmentJohn K. Keller; Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, Columbus
  • Water Law Considerations for Oil and Gas DevelopmentBrian P. Barger; Brady, Coyle and Schmidt, Ltd., Toledo
  • Accommodation of Split EstatesWilliam J. Taylor; Kincaid, Taylor and Geyer, ZanesvilleAlan Wenger; Harrington, Hoppe and Mitchell, Ltd., Youngstown
  • Negotiating Pipeline Easements and Managing the Threat of Eminent DomainCraig Vandervoort, Sitterley and Vandervoort Ltd , LancasterSteven A. Davis; Crabbe, Brown and James LLP, Lancaster
  • Recent Changes in Oil and Gas Leases and Leasing Richard Emens; Emens and Wolper Law Firm, Columbus
  • The Current State of Ohio Injection Well RegulationTom Tomastik, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources
  • Panel Discussion:  Emerging Issues in Ohio Oil and Gas LawEric Johnson; Johnson and Johnson Law Firm, CanfieldMatt Warnock; Bricker and Eckler LLP, Columbus

    Jonathan Airey; Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, Columbus

To register and learn more about the Symposium, visit



Income Tax Management of Oil and Gas Lease Payments

by: Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County; Peggy Kirk Hall, Director, OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program & David Marrison, Extension Educator, ANR, Ashtabula County

A renewed interest in oil and gas leasing in Ohio has the potential to provide landowners with substantial new revenue. Landowners who receive income from oil and gas lease bonus payments and royalty payments must understand the tax implications. Oil and gas income is subject to both federal and state income tax and must be reported appropriately. While a landowner can’t avoid paying taxes on oil and gas revenues, the landowner can use strategies to manage income taxes. This fact sheet reviews how to report oil and gas revenues and summarizes examples of tax management strategies for landowners.

Click here to access the Oil & Gas Tax Fact Sheet

Elimination of Federal Estate Tax Bill Proposed in Congress

By David Marrison, Associate Professor

Could the Federal government be following Ohio’s lead in eliminating the Federal Estate Tax or is this “Election Year” posturing?

The federal estate tax is currently set at 35% on estates over $5.12 million. If nothing is changed on January 1, 2013 the estate tax exemption will drop from $5.12 million to $1 million and the estate tax rate will jump from 35% to 55%. In his 2013 budget proposal, President Obama is supporting a $3.5 million estate tax exemption and 45% estate tax rate.

At the close of March 2012, Senator John Thune, Republican from South Dakota introduced the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act S. 2242, which would permanently abolish the federal estate tax. This act would repeal the federal estate tax, repeal the federal generation-skipping transfer tax and lock in a $5 million lifetime gift tax exemption and 35% gift tax rate The Senate bill mirrors House Resolution 1259 which was introduced by House Representative Kevin Brady, a Republican from Texas.

Many farm organizations have been advocating the repeal of the Federal Estate Tax due to its effect of these businesses being able to be transferred to the next generation. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President J.D. Alexander stated in a recent press release, “The death tax is detrimental to the farmers and ranchers who live off the land and run asset-rich, cash poor family-owned small businesses.”

According to a study by Douglas Holtz-Eakin commissioned for the American Family Business Foundation, repealing the death tax could create 1.5 million additional small business jobs and decrease the national unemployment rate by nearly 1% Holtz-Eakin is the former director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

Remember, this is an election year so there is not much hope that any action will be taken on the Federal Estate Tax until after November.

What Can I Do?
So what can farmers do? As with any legislation, take time to exercise your right to talk to your elected officials. Let them know how the changes to the federal estate tax could affect your farm. More importantly, schedule an appointment with your attorney to make sure your estate plan is up to date. Be proactive not reactive! To contact your elected officials, go to the House of Representatives website at: and search for your local congressman using the Zip code search engine and your State Senators at: and search by state. You can also access and monitor the progress of Senate Bill 2242 and House Resolution 2242 at these sites as well.

2012 Ohio Field Crop Enterprise Budgets

by: Barry Ward, OSU Extension, Leader, Production Business Management, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics & Dianne Shoemaker, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Production Economics

Budgeting helps guide you through your decision making process as you attempt to commit resources to the most profitable enterprises on the farm. Crops or Livestock? Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, Hay? We can begin to answer these questions with well thought out budgets that include all revenue and costs. Without some form of budgeting and some method to track your enterprises’ progress you’ll have difficulty determining your most profitable enterprise(s) and if you’ve met your goals for the farm. Budgeting is often described as “penciling it out” before committing resources to a plan. Ohio State University Extension has had a long history of developing “Enterprise Budgets” that can be used as a starting point for producers in their budgeting process.

Newly updated Enterprise Budgets for 2012 have been completed and posted to the Farm Management Website of the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics. Updated Enterprise Budgets can be viewed and downloaded from the following website: Enterprise Budget projections updated so far for 2012 include: Corn-Conservation Tillage; Soybeans-No-Till (Roundup Ready); Wheat-Conservation Tillage, (Grain & Straw), Corn Silage, Alfalfa Hay and Alfalfa Haylage.

Our enterprise budgets are compiled on downloadable Excel Spreadsheets that contain macros for ease of use. Users can input their own production and price levels to calculate their own numbers. These Enterprise Budgets have color coded cells that allow users to plug in numbers to easily calculate bottoms lines for different scenarios. Detailed footnotes are included to help explain methodologies used to obtain the budget numbers. Budgets include a date in the upper right hand corner of the front page indicating when the last update occurred.