Skip to content

Ohio Governor Kasich Puts Forward Tax Changes in New Budget

3 min readBy: Morgan Scarboro

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) introduced his $144.28 billion budget today for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The plan totals to a $39 million taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. cut over the next two years. As far as sound tax policy goes, the budget is a mixed bag. The governor proposes some smart reform, such as consolidating the state’s nine income tax bracketA tax bracket is the range of incomes taxed at given rates, which typically differ depending on filing status. In a progressive individual or corporate income tax system, rates rise as income increases. There are seven federal individual income tax brackets; the federal corporate income tax system is flat. s, but also includes some harmful changes, such as increasing tobacco taxes to help offset revenue losses.

Kasich has proposed consolidating the state’s income tax brackets down to five brackets and lowering marginal rates. The top marginal rate will drop from 4.997 percent to 4.33 percent in 2018. Kasich’s budget increases the personal exemption and expands the low-income credit by increasing the eligible income level. This change effectively eliminates the state income tax for more than 350,000 low income Ohioans.

Here are the new income tax brackets under Kasich’s budget proposal:

Current Brackets Current Rates

















More than $210,500


New Income Brackets Tax Rates 2017 Tax Rates 2018













More than $200,000



Reducing the number of tax brackets reduces unnecessary complexity in the tax code, and lowering the income tax rate can encourage economic growth.

Kasich’s proposal also broadens the sales tax baseThe tax base is the total amount of income, property, assets, consumption, transactions, or other economic activity subject to taxation by a tax authority. A narrow tax base is non-neutral and inefficient. A broad tax base reduces tax administration costs and allows more revenue to be raised at lower rates. and raises the rate to offset his proposed income tax cuts. His proposal raises the sales taxA sales tax is levied on retail sales of goods and services and, ideally, should apply to all final consumption with few exemptions. Many governments exempt goods like groceries; base broadening, such as including groceries, could keep rates lower. A sales tax should exempt business-to-business transactions which, when taxed, cause tax pyramiding. from 5.75 percent to 6.25 percent while adding several services to the sales tax base. He includes services such as cable TV subscriptions, elective cosmetic surgery, lobbying fees, landscape designs, interior design and decorating, travel packages, and repossession services.

These changes are steps in the right direction. Properly structured sales tax systems, which should be aimed at taxing all consumption, would include services in the tax base. As state economies are comprised more of services than goods, less of the economy is taxed, favoring the service sector of the economy over the goods sector.

As to excise taxes, the governor proposes increasing “sin” taxes on tobacco and includes vapor products (like e-cigarettes) in tobacco taxes. Currently, Ohio taxes cigarettes at $1.60 a pack. Under the governor’s new budget, the tax will rise to $2.25 a pack, with an equivalent tax on other tobacco products. As we have previously noted, cigarette taxes have a host of unintended consequences, such as cigarette smuggling. Additionally, taxing vapor products at punitive rates can discourage people from seeking a less harmful alternative to cigarettes.

The governor’s budget also recommends reforming the state’s severance tax system. Currently, Ohio’s severance tax is 20 cents on a barrel of oil and 3 cents on an MCF unit (thousand cubic foot) of natural gas. Kasich’s recommendation is to enact a fixed rate of 6.5 percent when crude oil or natural gas is sold at the wellhead and 4.5 percent for natural gas when sold later in the distribution process. Governor Kasich has a track record of proposing severance tax increases, and the legislature has a history of rejecting them.

Governor Kasich proposes some substantial positive changes to the income tax and sales tax systems in Ohio. While his tobacco tax proposals are troubling and the severance tax items appear DOA, the House and Senate will have the last say on what survives the final budget.

Follow Morgan on Twitter.