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Ohio wants Uber to pay $1.6M in sales taxes: What it means

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 2:44 PM

Staff photo
Staff photo

Uber is appealing an order from the Ohio Department of Taxation to pay $1.6 million in sales taxes and penalties.

The ride hailing company is arguing the tax law the state is citing doesn’t apply to the company. A hearing before the Board of Tax Appeals has been set for July.

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The case only centers around whether Uber Technologies owes taxes for the third quarter of 2015, but could have larger implications than the $1.6 million it allegedly owes for those three months.

The Ohio Department of Taxation said through a spokesman that it couldn’t comment beyond the final determination it issued to Uber. Uber said in a statement that “While we can’t comment on the specifics of ongoing litigation, we are working closely with the Ohio Department of Taxation on this matter.”

Policy Matters Ohio, a left leaning think tank, said based on the audit for one quarter, Uber would owe $13.5 million in taxes since July 2015 if it had to collect since then, and that figure also does not cover earlier operations or take into account the company’s growth.

RELATED: Uber reduces ambulance usage nationwide says study

The dispute reflects the growing effort to figure out how to tax and regulate the “gig economy,” as companies like AirBnb and Uber are grabbing business from other more heavily taxed industries like taxis and hotels. Regulators are asserting that the states are being cheated on revenue by these startups, which look a lot like businesses the state is already collecting millions in taxes on.

In Uber’s case in Ohio, the company is arguing that it is not a transportation service provider but rather a “transportation network company.” Uber said in its notice of appeal, filed Nov. 6, that its employees don’t provide transportation services, because it is the contracted drivers, not the actual Uber employees, who are doing the transporting.

Uber also argues that collecting a sales tax on the services provided by the drivers violates the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

RELATED: Uber, taxis try to combat drunk driving for New Year’s Eve

The state in a Sept. 9, 2016 letter, told Uber that the meets the definition of a vendor of transportation services, which would have to pay the taxes in question. Uber set the prices, controlled the quality and drivers and received payment for services.

“Not only was the petitioner present at the taxable sale, the petitioner is the catalyst for the transaction,” the state wrote.

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Ohio leaders critical of Trump’s comments on Russia, call Putin a ‘foe’

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 4:50 PM
Updated: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 4:50 PM

Vladimir Putin Denies Russian Intervention In 2016 Election At Helsinki Summit

Ohio lawmakers and other U.S. leaders say Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. and took issue with President Donald Trump’s comments Monday during a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin where the president declined to back his own intelligence services.

“Russia absolutely meddled in our election in 2016. Putin clearly intended to hurt (Hillary) Clinton’s campaign and expected presidency. Russia’s interference is a threat to our democracy and democracies around the world. Putin is not our friend,” Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton said.

RELATED: Russian media suggest Putin-Trump summit a step forward

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Just last Friday, a federal grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials on charges of hacking Democratic files. The charges were a result of a year-long investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, called the president’s comments “troubling.”

“He failed to stand up to Vladimir Putin on some of the most critical security issues facing our country and our allies,” Portman said.

President Trump held a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland today. The two talked for nearly two hours alone, except for their translators in the room. Afterward, they held a news conference to discuss their meeting...but most of the media's questions focused on a single topic. Mola Lenghi has more details from The White House.

“When given the opportunity, President Trump did not hold President Putin to task for election meddling, for the illegal annexation of Crimea, or for the continued aggression in Eastern Ukraine.

Youngstown-area Congressman Tim Ryan accused Trump of a “disheartening betrayal” to all U.S. service members when he did not challenge Putin on accusations Russian intelligence hacked Democratic e-mails to damage the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

In a harshly worded statement, Ryan, D-Niles, called Trump’s performance “a disgraceful setback to the United States’ global leadership; an insult to those serving in our intelligence agencies; and a disheartening betrayal of every service member defending the U.S. government’s interests against Russian government hostility.”

Ryan said that “Trump’s appeasement of Putin with denials of Russia’s continued cyberattacks on our nation is pathetic and weak—especially coming just hours after referring to the European Union as a great ‘foe,’ and days after 12 Russians were indicted as part of special counsel Mueller’s investigation.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said “there is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.”

“The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” Ryan said. “There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, charged Trump “missed an opportunity” to challenge Putin, adding “the intelligence experts we trust to keep America safe have said that Russia continues to threaten our democracy and our critical infrastructure, and the president missed an opportunity to do something about it.”

RELATED: What people are saying

“The Ukrainian community in Ohio knows all too well the dangers of unchecked Russian aggression,” Brown said. “We must demand Russia turn over the spies who hacked our election and show Putin we will not put up with threats to our infrastructure that undercut our democratic institutions.”

Ohio Governor John Kasich talked to CNN's Anderson Cooper Monday morning about what his expectations would be from the Trump, Putin meeting.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who may run for president in 2020, tweeted: “We need to be clear. Russia is our foe. Putin is actively trying to hurt our country. America needs to speak with one voice against Russia.”

Rep, Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati, said “Putin's assertion stands opposite the facts from our intelligence community.”

“As the U.S. intelligence community and the House Intelligence Committee investigation concluded, Russia attempted to sow chaos and undermine our democratic institutions,” Wenstrup said. “I don’t believe that Putin will ever admit that his government has attempted to undermine our democratic institutions as well as others.”

“It is up to us, the United States of America, to stop foreign adversaries, like Russia, from interfering in our democratic process,” he said.

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Perales GOP opponent indicted for extortion and coercion

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 3:42 PM
Updated: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 6:48 PM

State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek defeated Republican Jocelyn Smith of Fairborn in the May 8, 2018 Republican primary election
State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek defeated Republican Jocelyn Smith of Fairborn in the May 8, 2018 Republican primary election

Former Republican statehouse candidate Jocelyn Smith, 36, of Fairborn, was indicted on felony and misdemeanor counts related to alleged threats she made during her campaign against State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, during this year’s GOP primary, according to Greene County Common Pleas Court records.

Smith faces a third-degree felony count of extortion and a second-degree misdemeanor count of coercion, according to court records of the secret indictment filed June 15. Smith, who is a registered-nurse case manager at Sheakley Unicomp and a teacher at Fortis College, is scheduled to be arraigned in Greene County Common Pleas Court on July 6 at 1 p.m.

RELATED: Perales: My opponent is extorting me

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Greene County Prosecutor Stephen K. Haller referred the case to a special prosecutor, Madison County Prosecutor Stephen J. Pronai, to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

“The indictment against my client, Jocelyn Smith, is a politically motivated witch hunt by the Greene County ‘good-old-boys’ network and a prosecutorial abuse of discretion and power that will be vigorously defended against,” said Smith’s attorney, Ben Swift, in an email Friday. “We look forward to our day in court when all of the true facts will come out.”

Perales, a former Greene County commissioner and Beavercreek councilman, said he just wants to focus on serving his western Greene County 73rd District, which he has represented since 2013.

“There are no winners in this situation. Justice just needs to take its course,” Perales said. “People have to be held accountable for their words and deeds. I remain focused on winning in November.”

See the Facebook Live of Smith’s March 27 news conference

On May 8 Perales defeated Smith 80 percent to 20 percent after bitter primary campaign. Perales faces Kim McCarthy, a Sugarcreek Twp. Democrat, in the Nov. 6 General Election.

During the campaign, Smith alleged that Perales had choked, forcibly kissed, fondled and sexted with her in 2015.

RELATED:Ohio House Rep. denies opponent’s claim he kissed and choked her

Perales, who is married, admits sending inappropriate sexually oriented text messages to Smith during a brief consensual relationship in early 2015 but denies that he choked, kissed or touched her in any intimate way. Perales said Smith sent him topless photos of herself but that he did not send any sexually oriented photos to her.

Smith denied sending the pictures and said that because she refused to have sex with him Perales would not sponsor a pancreatic cancer specialty license plate bill she supported. State records show Perales did co-sponsor and vote for a bill establishing the specialty plate.

RELATED: Perales prevails over Smith in bizarre Greene County statehouse race

The indictment stems from a complaint accusing Smith of extortion that Perales filed with Fairborn Police in April after Smith held a March 27 news conference in Fairborn. At the news conference, Smith said that if Perales did not resign from the state legislature and withdraw from the Republican primary, she would release texts and other documentation she said proved her allegations.

“Please don’t force me to release the rest of the text messages and other mountains of evidence,” Smith said at the news conference. “I think you know the honorable thing to do is to step down.”

RELATED:‘Don’t force me to release the rest of the text messages,’ local candidate tells lawmaker 

In a May 2 interview Smith called Perales’ extortion complaint “a bogus charge. Perales is very good at writing these false reports.”

Smith ultimately released some sexually oriented texts to local news media but there was no way to verify that they came from Perales, nor did they contain any proof that he had choked, forcibly kissed or fondled her.

Perales questioned Smith’s credibility, saying her story changed multiple times and pointing to court cases involving her.

RELATED: Polygraph test for local statehouse candidate canceled

In 2014, a Warren County judge placed Smith in a pre-trial diversion program on three counts of telephone harassment of a man, according to court records. She completed the program and the case was dismissed in November 2014.

In September 2017 Smith successfully petitioned the court to expunge the case, according to Warren County court records. 

In 2015 she obtained a temporary civil protection order against the man in the telephone harassment case, and that protection order was later dismissed at her request, according to Greene County court records.

In a separate court case, a civil protection order was issued in 2009 against Smith by a Clark County Common Pleas Domestic Relations Court magistrate after a former boyfriend accused her of harassing him after they broke up, Clark County court records show. That temporary order was dismissed 17 days later after a hearing in which a Clark County Common Pleas magistrate warned Smith against escalating her behavior. 

In 2008 Smith was fired as a Clark County deputy after being accused of showing photos of her nude breasts to male co-workers, pointing pepper spray at an inmate as a joke and having an inappropriate relationship with a former inmate. Smith denied all the charges except the pepper-spray incident but lost her 2009 lawsuit and 2012 appeal alleging race and gender discrimination, and wrongful termination.

Ohio Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirstin Alvanitakis responded to the indictment of Smith by saying, that Democratic Party “candidates are focused on fixing the GOP culture of corruption in Columbus, rather than the unseemly details of their opponents' private lives. That said, we hope Representative Perales has taken the time over the past few months to reflect on how he should interact with constituents moving forward."

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey

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The deaths of five women in Dayton linked by drugs, possible foul play

Two drug deaths from one family. Says mom: ‘It was like living in hell’

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Year later, mom of teen killed on Ohio State Fair ride talks of her son’s legacy

Published: Friday, July 13, 2018 @ 9:03 PM

Tyler Jarrell's mother said she will make sure her son did not die in vain after he was killed on a ride on opening day of the Ohio State Fair.

Nearly a year after her teenage son was killed in a ride on opening day of the Ohio State Fair, his mother said she will make sure he did not die in vain.

Tyler Jarrell was 18 when he was thrown to his death from the Fireball.

>> Ohio State Fair tragedy: Gondola carrying riders breaks off; ride passed inspection that day

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His mother, Amber Duffield, said she is determined her son’s legacy will be saving others.

The 18-year-old had already pledged to serve the U.S. Marine Corps. He’d trained with Columbus police officers, and on July 26, 2017, his mom said he very well could have saved someone else’s life.

>> Ohio State Fair tragedy: 5 things to know about the Fire Ball ride

“And he would have still taken that seat had he known the outcome,” Duffield said.

The ride passed an inspection that morning, though investigators later learned the arm had major corrosion.

>> Dutch maker identifies cause in deadly ride malfunction at Ohio State Fair

“Really right now, it’s not a blame game. It’s more about what are we going to do to make it better?”

>> Ohio State Fair tragedy: State decides not to fine, sanction Fire Ball operator

Her solution is House Bill 631: Tyler’s Law.

This would require more training for ride inspectors and assign a minimum number of inspectors to every ride.

>> Ohio State Fair tragedy: What happened?

“It’s really, truly about getting that trust back we lost,” Duffield said.

The next couple weeks will be busy as Duffield works to honor her son. She is certain that in his memory she can help spare others the pain she has felt.

Duffield will be at the opening day of the fair this year.

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Democrat running for Congress in Warren, Hamilton counties won’t back Pelosi

Published: Friday, July 13, 2018 @ 12:57 PM
Updated: Friday, July 13, 2018 @ 12:57 PM

Aftab Pureval
Aftab Pureval

A Democrat seeking to flip Ohio’s 1st Congressional District in November says he won’t support U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi for Speaker if the party regains control of the House of Representatives.

RELATED: Pelosi says Rep. Jim Jordan should have known about wrestlers’ abuse

Cincinnati’s Aftab Pureval, who grew up in Beavercreek, has joined a growing list of Democratic congressional candidates who are distancing themselves from the House minority leader from California. Pureval told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he believes there should be a new generation of leadership as “Washington is broken.”

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The 1st District includes all of Warren County and part of Hamilton County.

The 35-year-old former lawyer for Procter & Gamble is challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Chabot in the November election. Chabot is seeking a 12th term in the traditionally Republican district.

A number of Democratic candidates nationwide have distanced themselves from Pelosi during their campaigns.

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