The revisions to Ohio’s exemption law set forth in O.R.C. §2329.66 become effective on September 25, 2008 by Senate Bill 281 that was signed by Governor Strickland on June 27, 2008. The purpose of the changes to Ohio’s exemption law is to increase the exemptions for property that a debtor may hold exempt from execution, garnishment or sale for the satisfaction of a judgment. Ohio’s current exemptions have not been revised since 1979, and the current exemptions do not reflect the costs of living in 2008.

These changes were supported by Ohio’s former Attorney General Marc Dann, State Treasurer Richard Cordray, the Ohio State Bar Association and numerous attorneys and bankruptcy judges throughout the state who offered testimony in favor of these updates. The higher amounts in Senate Bill 281 bring Ohio’s exemptions in line with current federal exemptions.

Some of the revisions to the exemptions in certain property that will take effect on September 25, 2008, include:

  1. The exemption in real or personal property used as a residence will be raised from $5,000 to $20,200 per debtor;
  2. The exemption in a motor vehicle will be increased from $1,000 to $3,225;
  3. The exemption in professional books and tools of the trade will be increased from $750 to $2,025;
  4. The “wildcard” exemption that applies to any property owned by a debtor will be increased from $400 to $1,075. This increase will permit single parents to retain the Earned Income Credit that would be turned over to the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee under the current law.

Although this is a pro-debtor bill, there has not been much creditor opposition to this legislation, which may be due to the fact that the exemptions outlined above more accurately reflect the reasonable prices in the current economy. In fact, one of the revisions in Senate Bill 281 includes automatic adjustments to Ohio’s exemptions based on the consumer price index. The first adjustment is scheduled to occur on April 1, 2010, and the exemptions will adjust on the same day every three years based on the consumer price index. This revision will allow Ohio’s exemption law to more accurately reflect current prices in a timely manner.