There is a statute of limitations in Ohio on collecting a number of delinquent taxes. ORC sec. 131.02 (online here: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/131.02 ) in subsection (F)(3), provides - in summary form - that no initial action to collect a tax may be commenced after the later of (i) 7 years after the assessment is issued or (ii) 4 years after the assessment becomes final. Basically, the difference is to take into account the differences between a tax assessment the taxpayer does not contest - 7 years - and an assessment the taxpayer does contest - at least 7 years and possibly longer before the statute expires.
Please keep in mind that I am not licensed to practice law in OH so if you want to get an answer that constitutes legal advise you can rely on, then you need to consult with competent local tax counsel.
My answer does not constitute legal advice and may not be relied upon by anyone for any purpose and does not constitute an attorney/client relationship or an offer to form such a relationship. This disclaimer is intended to be fully compliant with the requirements of Treasury Department Circular 230 and the terms thereof are fully incorporated by reference. If you wish to consult with me please contact me at dwatchley@newyorktaxcounsel or visit my website at www.newyorktaxcounsel.com
The statute of limitations does not start to run until you file your return. If the state found something wrong with the return, and you appealed that, the statute would not start to run until there is a final assessment. With Ohio's messed up tax systems, it could easily take ten years or more for this to happen.
Just knowing that the taxes are from 1987 doesn't really tell me enough to answer your general question as it applies to your particular situation. For example, has IRS recently issued you a Notice of Deficiency for 1987 (there could be various reasons that this might not be barred by a statute of limitations)? If so, have you taken the matter to the US Tax Court? To the Federal Court of Appeals? If not, when did the deficiency become final?
If IRS' determination of your 1987 tax liability has changed you federal tax liability, chances are your Ohio tax liability has changed, also. If this is a recent event, the statute of limitatons would have to be re-calculated.
Your's is not really a simple question. You probably should see a tax attorney in Cincinnati.
Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. Do NOT rely on anything I have written here -- You should contact a lawyer in your area immediately after reading my posting. The following disclosure is required pursuant to IRS Circular 230: unless otherwise expressly indicated, any federal tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended or written to be used, and may not be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed herein.