The Buckeye Institute Files Suit Against City of Columbus and State of Ohio

Jul 09, 2020

Columbus, OH – The Buckeye Institute, along with three of its individual employees, filed a lawsuit calling for the court to declare unconstitutional a state law allowing the City of Columbus to tax income from workers who do not live in, and were prohibited from working within, the city’s jurisdiction during Ohio’s Stay-at-Home order.

“The law in this case is straight out of a dystopic novel: the state first prohibited workers from going into their offices during the Stay-At-Home order, then passed an emergency law absurdly ‘deeming’ all work that was actually performed at home to have been performed in the higher-taxed office location instead. It is a legal fiction, and it is unconstitutional,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute.

Alt continued, “Not only have our employees—along with thousands of others like them across Ohio—had municipal income taxes unlawfully taken from them during the Stay-at-Home order, but The Buckeye Institute also has been forced to participate in perpetrating this constitutional violation, betraying the very principle of limited government that is an essential component of our organization’s mission.”

The lawsuit—filed on July 2 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court against the City of Columbus and the State of Ohio on behalf of The Buckeye Institute, Rea S. Hederman, Jr. of Powell, Greg R. Lawson of Westerville, and Joe Nichols of Newark Township—states that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to comply with Ohio’s emergency orders requiring nonessential businesses to close, The Buckeye Institute required its employees to work from home. Subsequently, House Bill 197 “deemed” all work performed at private homes during the health emergency to have been performed at the employees’ principal place of work for the purposes of taxation, and the City of Columbus then continued to unlawfully take taxes from Hederman, Lawson, and Nichols despite the fact that these employees were no longer working within and did not live in the city’s jurisdiction.

This unlawful taxation is a clear violation of due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and violates Article I, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution.

# # #