Information Release

G 2009-01 - Ohio Business Gateway Enhancements and Disclosure Reminder - Issued March 2009

The purpose of this information release is to advise taxpayers and their representatives of the upcoming enhancements to the Ohio Business Gateway (OBG) and to remind such persons of the strict disclosure guidelines that employees of the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) must follow before providing information to individuals in order to protect confidential taxpayer information.

Ohio Business Gateway (OBG) Enhancements

Beginning March 30, 2009, OBG will feature many enhancements. OBG will be down to implement this upgrade from Thursday evening, March 26, 2009 through Monday morning, March 30, 2009. During that time, taxpayers and representatives will not be able to access their accounts, specifically for purposes of filing and/or paying electronically. Please plan accordingly for this outage.

This information release details some of the enhancements and provides an illustrative example of the single sign-on component of the upgrade.

OBG Home Page:

The OBG home page has been enhanced to provide a universal platform that allows a user to access multiple areas from one screen.  This new home page screen is equipped with customized, collapsible menus for each function type. For example, a user will be able to select the tax the user wishes to access, along with all options associated with that tax from the home page. The functions of the current OBG are not changing, but the means of accessing the functions has been streamlined and simplified.

Service Provider/Representative Sign-On:

Another much-anticipated upgrade to the OBG allows third party representatives to sign on to the OBG one time in order to prepare forms for multiple clients. This function requires the third party representative to register through the OBG in order to receive a 10 character representative identification number that the representative may provide to his/her clients. The client then enters that number into the OBG from the client’s account in order to grant access to the representative. The client may choose the level of access he/she wishes the representative have with regard to the client’s account (such levels vary from being able to create and edit a return to having the ability to file and pay on the client’s behalf). Please be advised that providing access to a representative may allow that representative to see a taxpayer’s prior OBG filing history.

The service provider/representative sign-on component of the OBG upgrade has three steps:

1. The representative (or the representative’s firm or company) must register with the OBG if the representative, firm, or company is not already registered. The sole purpose of the registration step is to provide each firm or company with a unique identifier, which a representative may provide to his/her clients. In the event that a representative, firm, or company is already registered on OBG, such person must log in to reveal the unique identifier, which is a new feature available with the new OBG. In addition, a firm or company may create additional OBG user accounts for its employees and, if desired, only designate those accounts as having OBG access on behalf clients.  By only selecting access on behalf of one or more clients, a firm or company may ensure that its employee will not be able to file on behalf of the firm or company, but rather may only file on behalf of a client.

2. After the representative provides his/her client with the unique identifier, the client must log into the OBG to provide the representative with access to the client’s account. The client may choose from various levels of access, ranging from the ability to create and edit a return (but not the ability to file the return) to the all-access level, which would allow a representative to create, edit, and file returns on the client’s behalf.

3. Once the taxpayer designates a representative to act on its behalf, the representative, firm, or company must log back into the OBG to select which of its employees to assign to that client’s account. The firm or company may designate multiple employees to one account, or may segment a certain tax type for each representative.

For example, Joe Taxpayer hires Randy at ABC Tax Consultants to file his commercial activity tax (CAT) returns on his behalf. Because ABC Tax Consultants is already registered on the OBG to file CAT returns on its own behalf, ABC Tax Consultants:

  • Logs into the OBG;
  • Reveals its unique identifier; and
  • Provides that identifier to Joe Taxpayer.

Joe Taxpayer logs into the OBG, sets up a shared access group, and types in the unique identifier to designate ABC Tax Consultants as his representative for purposes of the CAT only. While setting up the group, Joe Taxpayer selects all-access for CAT in order to enable ABC Tax Consultants the ability to file and pay CAT on his behalf. Joe Taxpayer then exits the OBG.

ABC Tax Consultants logs back into the OBG. ABC Tax Consultants also has three employees, Randy, Karrie, and Chuck, who work on all tax matters for clients. ABC Tax Consultants will add all three employees as users, but leave all access levels for ABC Tax Consultants as “no selection” so that Randy, Karrie, and Chuck may represent clients, but may not file or pay on behalf of ABC Tax Consultants. Randy, Karrie, and Chuck will be added to Joe Taxpayer’s shared access group. Randy, Karrie, and Chuck may now log into OBG and change to Joe Taxpayer’s account in order to file and pay on Joe Taxpayer’s behalf for all CAT matters.

Disclosure Guidelines and Reminders

In ODT's continuing effort to safeguard all taxpayers’ confidential information, this release serves as a reminder to taxpayers and practitioners of the information they must have readily available before calling ODT regarding an account. ODT’s employees may never disclose confidential taxpayer information without sufficient verification of key components of a taxpayer’s account. At a minimum, please have all of the following information readily available before calling ODT regarding an account:

1. The first and last name of the taxpayer (or the complete business name if the call regards a business);

2. Either the social security number (SSN), federal identification number (FEIN), or Ohio tax identification number (TIN) of the entity;

3. The complete address currently on file with ODT (if such information has changed, please provide updated contact information as appropriate);

4. The tax year or period for which the person is calling, including any amount at issue. For example, if a person contacts ODT regarding a billing notice, please provide the amount of the bill;

5. In the case of taxpayer representatives, the representative’s name and company affiliation.

In addition, the agent should also verify that the representative is calling on behalf of a taxpayer in a representative capacity. Further, the agent may ask additional questions that provide the agent a comfort level that the person calling is entitled to the confidential information.

Unfortunately, if a taxpayer or representative cannot provide all of the above information, ODT may not be able to answer all questions. Please understand that ODT is responsible for safeguarding taxpayers’ confidential information; as such, ODT representatives may not disclose that information unless specifically authorized to do so.

For more information regarding these exciting changes, including tutorials to help get started, please visit a special page on the ODT Web site at Ohio Business Gateway 2.0. To begin filing via the OBG, visit: http://business.ohio.gov. Please contact ODT with questions about the disclosure guidelines outlined above or about the upcoming enhancements to the OBG toll-free at (866) 644-6468.