CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — Just as the holiday season comes to a close, financial deadlines are creeping up on Northeast Ohioans.
“It’s just really frustrating and hard with all the mail delays that have been happening,” Michele Bennett said. “Something that wasn't really easy to plan for, an extra chunk of money that we got so late and so close to the deadline.”
In a handful of cities like Lakewood, Westlake, Strongsville, and Cleveland Heights, regional or quarterly municipal income taxes were due last Friday, January 15.
Bennett said her bill caught her by surprise with just one day left to pay up because of delays with the U.S. Postal Service.
“It's just been a really hard year and I would expect them to be more lenient than they have been,” Bennett said.
Hoping to avoid any late fees, she said she hopes the City of Westlake and the Regional Income Tax Agency will give grace to residents grappling with the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would think that they should be. I mean, a lot of people have been out of work with this whole pandemic,” Bennett said.
Vince Gaudio, a certified public accountant and tax expert, said he anticipates municipalities and the tax authority will be understanding.
“If you've got your tax payment in late or it just came in via the mail, don't panic,” Gaudio said. “They're probably getting a lot of these phone calls. Just say, ‘Please note on the record, I just got my mail.’”
The City of Lakewood does not fall under the umbrella of RITA and instead collects its own municipal income tax from residents.
“We will do your taxes for you in the Lakewood Municipal Tax Department,” Council President Dan O’Malley said. “All you really need to do is bring your W-2 and any other relevant tax documents.”
However, multiple Lakewood residents have voiced their frustrations about the late arrival of their municipal tax reminder and being unable to pay online because the city’s e-file system is undergoing maintenance.
O’Malley said municipalities have already taken steps to alleviate some of that burden for taxpayers by following the IRS’s lead and extending deadlines to pay and file.
“I think that we have an obligation to demonstrate some customer service,” O’Malley said. “Our taxpayers are suffering like everyone else and to the extent to which there are things that are beyond their control that would cause things to be late.”
He’s calling on the city’s tax division to be lenient with residents who may not have paid on time.
“I think we need to accommodate those hardships,” O’Malley said. “So I certainly, as council president, would support either on a case-by-case basis or just as a general rule, allowing for some accommodation here.”
The IRS will not begin accepting federal tax returns until February 12.