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Extension Educator Says: Shale payments subject to Ohio’s Commercial Activity Tax

Landowners across Ohio may be surprised to learn the bonus lease and royalty dollars received for their Marcellus or Utica Shale leases will be subject to theOhio commercial activity tax (CAT) if payments of over $150,000 are received.

What is it?

The CAT was enacted in House Bill 66, which was passed by the 126th General Assembly in 2005. The CAT is an annual tax imposed on “the privilege of doing business in Ohio,” measured by taxable gross receipts from most business activities.

Most receipts generated in the ordinary course of business are included in a taxpayer’s CAT base. This tax applies to all types of businesses: e.g., retailers, service providers (such as lawyers, accountants, and doctors), manufacturers, and other types of businesses.

The CAT applies to all entities regardless of form, (e.g., sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and all types of corporations). The tax does have limited exclusions for certain types of businesses, such as financial institutions, dealers in intangibles, insurance companies and some public utilities if those businesses pay specific other Ohio taxes.

A person with taxable gross receipts of more than $150,000 per calendar year is subject to this tax, which requires such person to register with the Department of Taxation as a taxpayer.

The term “gross receipts” is broadly defined to include most business types of receipts from the sale of property or in the performance of a service. Please note that certain receipts are not taxable receipts, such as interest income.

The following are some other examples of receipts that are excluded from a taxpayer’s CAT base: dividends, capital gains, wages reported on a W-2, interest (other than from credit sales), or gifts.

 

Oil and gas income

Internal Revenue Code section 1231 provides guidance on why the oil and gas receipts are included in a taxpayer’s CAT base. Specifically, the Code states that timber, coal, and iron ore are considered property used in the trade or business, assuming they are contained in the ground.

Once the mineral is removed from the ground, however, it is no longer an asset used in the trade or business, and therefore receipts from the sale of this mineral are included in a taxpayer’s CAT base.

$150 and 0.26%

 So what are the tax rates for the CAT? The rate for the first $1 million in taxable gross receipts (from $150,000 to $1 million) is a flat $150. The rate for receipts above $1 million is 0.26 percent.

The $150 annual minimum tax is due by May 10 of each year with the annual tax return for calendar year taxpayers or with the first quarter return for calendar quarter taxpayers.

A calendar year taxpayer who will have over $1 million in taxable gross receipts for a calendar year is required to switch to a quarterly taxpayer in the subsequent year and, if it elects to, can switch to a quarterly taxpayer at any time during the current calendar year.

CAT Example

 John B. Landowner owns 400 acres in northeastern Ohio and is a teacher at the local high school. He leases his land for $3,000 per acre, which totals a bonus payment of $1.2 million. To calculate his CAT obligation, Mr. Landowner would pay $150 for the first million dollars and then apply the .26% tax rate for the remainder ($200,000), which equals $520.

He has no other commercial business activity so his total CAT obligation would be $150 + $520 =$670.

Link to original: http://www.farmanddairy.com/news/shale-payments-subject-to-ohios-cat-tax/35664.html

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

David Marrison is an agricultural extension educator in Ashtabula County.

E-mail: marrison.2@osu.edu

Thanks for your Support!

Last night http://www.lookbeforeyoulease.org crossed over 10,000 “hits”. This is great news,being that the site is less than 6 months old. We thank you for your support of Look Before You Lease and for sharing links, articles and our toolkit with your friends and family.

We are also grateful that so many landowners in Ohio, and elsewhere (we have distributed toolkits to landowners, attorney’s, and community leaders in 6 states) are choosing to do research and learn about shale development and leasing issues before deciding whether to lease their property.

We will keep on keeping on, but for now we just wanted to say Thank You!

Athen’s County: Lease situation gives signers more time to reassess situation

A letter to the Editor of the Athens News that mentions “Look Before You Lease”. Thanks to Bob Sheak for helping us to spread the word about the importance of information based decision making around shale development. We don’t know how this will play out in Athens county, but there is a renewed urgency for those who are in the position to extend their lease agreement to review our landowner toolkit and and learn about the other groups mentioned in Mr.Sheak’s letter before making the decision to extend, work out additional terms, wait and see how the first wells produce, or wait for results from studies currently being conducted by federal agencies before making a final decision. If you have a neighbor or friend who is in the group awaiting payment from Cunningham, or is thinking about leasing through another landowner group make sure they have visited our site, or request a landowner toolkit for them. We will send a CD version by mail.

To the Editor:

This Cunningham Energy decision not to sign the oil and gas leases aggregated by local attorney John Lavelle illustrates how little control Athens Countians have in such matters, even with legal advice. Low natural gas prices, too much supply, a moderate winter, perhaps new questions about how to dispose of wastewater — all may help to explain why Cunningham has had trouble finding a corporate partner prepared to share the costs of shale gas/oil mining and to take responsibility for the various operational aspects of such mining.

Groups and individuals such as Look Before You Lease, SD-Frac, Sierra Club, Heather Cantino, Christine Hughes and their many strong allies, letter writers, and others in Athens have worked hard to educate local officials and the general population about the extensively documented dangers of shale gas mining. According to a student-driven poll of over 350 mostly Athens County residents reported Monday in The Athens NEWS, about half of the respondents opposed the option of going ahead with fracking until there are adequate safety regulations in place. My guess is that, despite the economic recession that still rages, the number is this high because of the educational efforts of the aforementioned groups.

I also guess that when, for example, natural gas prices rise and the infrastructure to move the gas is in place, Cunningham will find a corporate partner to commence the drilling in Athens. There are not many large economic alternatives available now for new public investments, publicly supported projects, or a significant shift to solar or wind energy. And the low-or-no tax and small-government policies of Republicans seem to resonate powerfully with a large number of citizens across Ohio and the U.S. So, if there is oil or gas in our part of the Utica shale formation and it can be profitably extracted, the mining corporations will be back.

In the meantime, from the perspective of about half of Athens County, there is some welcome additional time for residents to learn and think about and perhaps see implemented (to some extent) more adequate regulations than now exist. Though we probably should not count on much regulatory assistance from Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the Republicans at the state level. At the state level, with Kasich at the helm, we may well end up unfortunately looking more like Pennsylvania (very supportive of gas/oil shale mining) than New York (which continues to postpone final decisions on the acceptability of shale-gas mining).

Bob Sheak
Athens

(A-news) Editor’s note: Though this won’t be known until actually drilling begins in this area, some geological experts predict that the main “play” in Athens County and the surrounding area will be for oil rather than “dry” natural gas. Currently, natural gas prices are depressed while oil prices are relatively high. TS

 

Link to original Article: http://www.athensnews.com/ohio/article-36389-lease-situation-gives-signers-more-time-to-reassess-situation.html

Cunningham Energy seeks to postpone lease bonus payments, attorney says

Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2012 5:56 pm | Updated: 7:16 am, Mon Mar 12, 2012.

By STEVE ROBB Messenger staff journalist

It is “very unlikely” that Cunningham Energy will be able to meet Thursday’s deadline for making lease bonus payments to Athens County landowners, but the company is seeking a time extension, according to an attorney who has negotiated oil and gas leases for hundreds of local property owners.

Attorney John Lavelle sent his clients a letter Friday updating them on the situation. Contacted Saturday by The Messenger, Lavelle declined to comment. However, The Messenger obtained a copy of the letter from a landowner.

Lavelle has said previously that he has negotiated about 500 leases with Cunningham for local property owners that include signing bonuses of $2,500 per acre for drill leases and $1,250 per acre for non-drill leases. Lavelle has said the bonuses for his clients total more than $100 million. Payment of the bonuses by this Thursday was required in order for the leases to take effect. The leases also call for payment of a 16 percent royalty.

“It is very unlikely the leases will be funded by March 15, 2012. The agreements will therefore expire by their own terms,” Lavelle writes in the Friday letter.

However, Lavelle also writes that Cunningham has presented the lease package to more than 130 “of the largest companies in the world” and is currently in “intense negotiations” with a joint venture partner which are expected to result in a purchase and sale agreement within the next seven to 10 days, with a closing within 45-60 days thereafter.

At a lease signing event last November at the Athens County Fairgrounds, Cunningham land manager Joseph Blackhurst said his company has only conducted vertical drilling in the past and that a joint venture partner working with Cunningham would be the one doing any horizontal drilling.

At the time, Blackhurst would not disclose the name of the joint venture partner, but said it is a well-known publicly traded company.

Lavelle’s letter, though, indicates that an agreement has not yet been reached with a partner.

Lavelle says in the letter that he was approached about extending all the lease agreements to May 18.

“I explained it would be a daunting task to secure the consent of over 500 lessors in a short time frame, but we would do everything possible to extend this opportunity to those who desire to participate,” Lavelle writes.

In exchange for the time extension, Cunningham has agreed to increase the 16 percent royalty to 16.5 percent, according to the letter.

Lavelle also provided his client with an amendment, developed by a Cunningham attorney, to extend Thursday’s deadline to May 18. The letter instructs the clients to return the signed document by Thursday in order to continue to be part of the lease proposal.

According to an affidavit that Blackhurst filed in the Athens County Recorder’s Office last December, Lavelle has a lease agreement with Cunningham for 362 acres of his own property.

“My wife and I plan to sign the amendment concerning our own acreage,” Lavelle says in Friday’s letter. “We play to stay with it until the conclusion.”

Link to Original Article: http://www.athensohiotoday.com/news/article_163c4ff4-6bc5-11e1-bfa8-001871e3ce6c.html

Ohio Sets New Fracking Rules After Quakes

A dozen earthquakes in northeastern Ohio were almost certainly induced by injection of gas-drilling wastewater into the earth, Ohio oil and gas regulators say as they unveiled tough new regulations for drillers.

Among the new or proposed regulations: Well operators must submit more comprehensive geological data when requesting a drill site, and the chemical make-up of all drilling wastewater must be tracked electronically.

The state Department of Natural Resources announced the tough new brine injection regulations because of the report’s findings on the well in Youngstown, which it said were based on “a number of coincidental circumstances”.

For one, investigators said, the well began operations just three months ahead of the first quake.

They also noted that the seismic activity was clustered around the well bore, and reported that a fault has since been identified in the Precambrian basement rock where water was being injected.

“Geologists believe it is very difficult for all conditions to be met to induce seismic events,” the report states. “In fact, all the evidence indicates that properly located … injection wells will not cause earthquakes.”

Northeastern Ohio and large parts of adjacent states sit atop the Marcellus Shale geological formation, which contains vast reserves of natural gas that energy companies are rushing to drill using a process known as hydraulic fracturing.

That process involves freeing the gas by injecting water into the earth, but that water needs to be disposed of when companies are done with it. Municipal water treatment plants aren’t designed to remove some of the contaminants found in the wastewater, including radioactive elements. A common practice is to re-inject it into the ground, a practice banned in some states.

The improper placement of the Youngstown well stemmed in part from inadequate geological data being available to regulators, the report states. New rules would require a complete roll of geophysical logs to be submitted to the state.

“These logs were not available to inform regulators of the possible issues in geologic formations prior to well operation,” the document says.

Requiring well operators to submit more comprehensive geologic data is just one of the added regulations the department will either impose immediately or pursue through legislative or rule changes.

Among other changes:

– Future injection into Precambrian rock will be banned, and existing wells penetrating the formation will be plugged.

– State-of-the-art pressure and volume monitoring will be required, including automatic shut-off systems.

– Electronic tracking systems will be required that identify the make-up of all drilling wastewater fluids entering the state.

“Ohio has developed a new set of regulatory standards that positions the state as a national leader in safe and environmentally responsible brine disposal,” Natural Resources Director James Zehringer said in a prepared statement.

“Ohioans demand smart environmental safeguards that protect our environment and promote public health. These new standards accomplish that goal,” he said.

The US Environmental Protection Agency gave Ohio regulatory authority over its deep well injection program in 1983, deeming that its state regulations met or exceeded federal standards.

The new regulations would be added to those existing rules.

Link to Original Article: http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world/13131728/ohio-sets-new-fracking-rules-after-quakes/

Natural Gas Gathering System, Processing, Fractionation and Product Marketing Coming to Ohio

03/07/2012

By Christopher E. Smith
OGJ Pipeline Editor

MarkWest Utica EMG LLC, a joint venture of MarkWest Energy Partners LP and Energy & Minerals Group, signed a letter of intent with Gulfport Energy Corp. to provide gathering, processing, fractionation, and marketing services in the liquids-rich southern corridor of the Utica shale.

MarkWest Utica will develop a natural gas gathering system with Gulfport and other producers, primarily in Harrison, Guernsey, and Belmont counties in Ohio. The companies expect the gathering system to come online later this year.

MarkWest Utica will process the gas at its 200-MMcfd Harrison County processing complex, expected to enter service mid-2013, and will provide NGL fractionation and marketing services at the Harrison County fractionator, where NGL purity products will be marketed by truck, rail, and pipeline.

MarkWest last month announced two new processing plants in Harrison and Monroe counties and the 100,000 b/d fractionation, storage, and marketing facility in Harrison County (OGJ Online, Feb. 1, 2012).

NiSource Gas Transmission & Storage’s Midstream Services last week announced plans to build a roughly 90-mile, large-diameter natural gas gathering system extending through Ohio’s Columbiana, Carroll, Jefferson, Harrison, Belmont, and Monroe counties (OGJ Online, Mar. 2, 2012).

Contact Christopher E. Smith at chriss@ogjonline.com.

Link to original article: http://www.ogj.com/articles/2012/03/markwest-jv-to-build-utica-natural-gas-gathering-system.html

Coshocton Tribune: Leasing What Lies Beneath

By Paul Golden

The future potential for a significant increase in oil and gas exploration in Coshocton County has local landowners searching for information to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the entire process from drilling, leases, environmental concerns and more.

Many meetings and informational opportunities have been conducted locally by various groups, organizations and landowners associations. OSU Extension has been part of this process as a research-based source of scientific information.

The most interest is coming from landowners who have not leased their oil and gas rights and are seeking information that will protect their short-term and long-term interests. Deciding whether to lease land for oil and gas development is not a decision that comes easily. Many options must be considered to protect family rights and land, according to Rural Action of Ohio.

The Rural Action group, comprised of Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Farm Bureau, and Appalachia Ohio Alliance, is the working organization of the Look Before You Lease group. All the organizations have a history of working with landowners in Appalachian Ohio.

Look Before You Lease began looking at oil and gas issues facing landowners in Ohio, particularly around newer technologies such as horizontal hydraulic fracturing and private landowner leases.

The group has developed a landowner-friendly lease example that offers explanation and insight regarding the purpose and the reason various clauses are important and included within the document. This sample lease is available as a starting point.

The sample lease is intended to be used as an educational tool only.Working with a qualified attorney will help negotiate a landowner-friendly lease. There are many oil and gas companies currently working in Ohio. Select one that sees the property owner as a valued stakeholder in the project.

Visit www.lookbeforeyoulease.org website to review the landowner tool kit, sign up for electronic updates, or order a CD version of the tool kit. In early 2012, three recorded webinars (video presentations via the internet) will be available on the website. The webinars will be an additional resource to understand the information contained in the sample lease.

Redistribution of this sample lease is permitted and encouraged, so long as the lease remains intact and includes the approved cover letter. For information, contact Rural Action, P.O. Box 157 Trimble, Ohio 45782, attention: Look Before you Lease, or call 740-767-4938      .

Paul D. Golden is an extension educator for the Ohio State University Extension Coshocton County.

 

Link to Article: http://www.coshoctontribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012203030305