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2007 was the inaugural year for the Ohio Administrative Knowledge System (OAKS) – one full of working out kinks and errors. That process had a huge impact on many Union Education Trust participants when the end of the year came.
OAKS – the new system for all State of Ohio payroll, database, and personnel functions – didn’t account for work-related educational assistance when its applications determined income tax totals. Work-related educational assistance is tax-free and doesn’t count towards the $5,250 maximum per calendar year that is exempt from income tax.
That oversight meant that a number of UET participants had an unexpected and unpleasant surprise in November: All their educational assistance through UET, their state agencies and other employer-sources was added together and they were taxed on everything over the IRS maximum of $5,250.
That amounted to a sizable decrease in their paychecks.
OCSEA’s Union Education Trust intervened for them and worked together with the State of Ohio to apply the tax fairly and legally. The vast majority of impacted members received a refund.
It was glaringly obvious that the UET would need to develop a new system so that this type of an ordeal does not happen again to bargaining unit employees. Working with the state, UET has implemented a process to flag all verified work-related courses as exempt from tax. Read about the process here.