At the end of January, I attended the Annual Ohio Tax Conference at the Columbus Convention Center, the 31st annual conference to be exact, but perhaps only my 11th or 12th without taking the time to count on more than two hands.  Extremely well attended for COVID standards, and often regarded by many out-of-town guests and speakers as one of the very best state and local tax conferences in the country, including the likes of COST’s Doug Lindholm and Ohio’s own Fred Nicely, just to namedrop a couple of the more popular guests.

Very few would argue this is the premier annual SALT conference the region has to offer.  Over the years, guests have come to expect the country’s best January tax conference to feature high temperatures in the teens and a few inches of snow on the ground.  They were not disappointed in either department…or maybe so, depending on one’s tolerance for cold and snow.

This was the first year the conference was hosted entirely by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.  Hats off to close friend of the firm Tony Long, Director of Tax and Economic Policy, and his team’s effort at making 2022 a huge success.  The Chamber was very visible throughout the two days.  I sat next to former US Representative and current President and CEO of the Chamber Steve Stivers for breakfast Monday morning while manning GBQ’s traditional tradeshow style booth full of GBQ-branded swag.

Special thanks to former US Representative Pat Tiberi and current Ohio Lt. Gov. John Husted for the very intriguing roundtable discussion on Day 1.  As most probably expected, there was quite a bit of conversation about the huge Intel news coming out just days prior to the conference.  The excitement extends beyond just Intel itself and includes the trickle-down effect of the imminent growth that will come with Intel and the benefit to future generations.  The announcement tells the rest of the country loud and clear that Ohio is the place to be.

Lt. Gov. Husted had a great comment that has stuck with me since the Conference: “Ohio needs more homegrown entrepreneurs!”  Think about that for a second, a challenge to the next generation of big thinkers.  Start here and stay here.  You’re now living in what many folks are referring to as “Silicon Heartland.”

We also learned at Monday’s lunch session that SALT legend Maryann Gall has been inducted into the Ohio Tax Hall of Fame…huge congratulations to Maryann, well deserved!!!  I’m not exactly sure of the Ohio Tax Hall of Fame criteria, but I do know Maryann should be the first balloter with 100% of the vote (assuming the imbecile that left my guy Derek Jeter off his ballot doesn’t have a say in the Ohio Tax HoF).

As usual, GBQ was committed to its annual visible presence at the conference.  On Day 1, current GBQ State and Local Tax Director Jeff Monsman and former GBQ State and Local Tax Director Anthony Ott tackled the forever-grey conversation of sales tax for construction contractors, typically one of the most well-attended breakout sessions on the agenda.

After the opening night reception, GBQ hosted what has become an annual tradition including its own reception, which always consists of a few cocktails, some lighthearted gambling, and a few rolls of the dice.  Several years ago, Matt Stamp and I figured out there’s no better time during the year when so many of our clients are in the same place at the same time, allowing us the opportunity to host something so casual in nature that we all get to be ourselves for an evening.  Like many of the extracurricular “parties” we host, several of our guests have come to expect this out of us every year, something we certainly don’t take lightly.

Day 2 of the conference started off with a breakfast presentation from former GBQ SALT credits and incentives guru and current Jobs Ohio Managing Director of Projects Jason Dunkle, highlighting the team effort it took to land the Intel commitment and the flurry of activity Jobs Ohio is managing right now.  All of us hailing from the Buckeye State hold the same biased opinion about the Heart of it All… “Where else would you want to be?”  In the afternoon, new GBQ SALT Partner Sara Goldhardt spoke about the current mobile workforce issues from a state income tax perspective that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

By the end of the second day, you feel good about the folks you’ve reconnected with and the similar story that everyone is telling… “I need to hire more people!”

Fortunately, next year’s conference has already been scheduled for the summer, August 2023.  A very welcomed message for those traveling from other parts of the country, particularly the south.  By then, the fancy high-rise Hilton next door could be finished, and we might even have an Amtrak station rumbling underneath…is that a reality?

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