Campground's seasonals appeal for tax relief

Editor’s Note: Lola Dole, a seasonal camper at Mile-Away Campground near Henniker, N.H., contacted Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) to alert readers to a dilemma she and other campers face. Excerpts of her letter to the town of Henniker and to WCM appear below, followed by a petition she is circulating on behalf of her cause.

Her letter to the town of Hneniker states in part: “… It has been determined by the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) Property Appraisal Division that this recreational vehicle or travel trailer should be taxed as a building, a permanent structure or Real Estate. However, I wish to go on record as stating that this travel trailer in NO WAY complies with the guidelines of a building or permanent structure as set out in RSA 72.7. First of all we have Titles for these trailers, not deeds as you would if it were real estate property. They should NOT be considered a building or real estate at all! We don’t own real estate, therefore how can we be taxed for it.

These travel trailers are moveable, temporary and not permanent in any way. They are NOT completely enclosed, as they sit on their wheels with no permanent foundation, and are not affixed to the ground or surroundings in any way. They do not have shingled or wooden roofs, and do not have any permanent water supply. Their wheels and their trailer hitches are fully exposed and must be ready to be moved at a moment’s notice. They are not intended to remain stationary, but are fully and completely temporary removable trailers intended to be moved as needed. They are in NO WAY permanently affixed or lagged to the temporary seasonal sites on which they sit. They are removable…”

Meanwhile, in her letter to WCM, she stated:

I am a seasonal camper at Mile-Away-Campground in Henniker, NH. This year all seasonal campers were levied with a real estate tax bill imposed by the Town of Henniker, NH at the insistence of the Department of Revenue Administration, Property Appraisal Division, for the recreational vehicles or travel trailers that we have on our seasonal sites.

We use these travel trailers for 6 months of the year on weekends usually, and for the remainder of the year, the travel trailers are unusable with no water supply. We pay a storage fee as a convenience to leave our trailers there to use for the following year. Because of this convenience, we are being taxed as a building, or real estate property. However, we do not own real estate in Henniker, and we are not residents of Henniker. We do not get any of the benefits of being a resident in Henniker, ie: Library card, right to vote, mailing address or delivery service, and we cannot send our children to local schools in Henniker. So why are we being taxed? The owner of the campground already pays a huge tax for the property, and additionally pays a tax for having seasonal campers on his property. We feel that taxing us as residents is wrong and that the tax should be rescinded.

As seasonal campers however, we do bring in a substantial amount of revenue to the town of Henniker and surrounding town that we can always bring elsewhere, or to another state. Should campers not be able to come back to the area because of the financial imposition this tax poses to these families, the campground would certainly suffer financially, and so would the local economy. We bring a significant amount of business to the local community and support local businesses.

The state of NH wants to give the impression that they want pople to visit and encourage people to come to the state to visit and spend their money with ads such as “NH loves campers,” however they neglect to tell you that they don’t want you to stay too long or you will be taxed.

This serious issue that will have a huge effect on the economy of the whole state of NH, since there are many campgrounds in the state, and many businesses that sell campers who will lose business when people don’t buy travel trailers anymore because they can’t afford to pay this tax to keep there travel trailers at the campgrounds here, and the campgrounds that are no longer filled with seasonal campers because this tax imposes too great a financial burden on them and they cannot return. 

Very sincerely,

Lola Dole (978) 664-1809 (H), (978) 882-1683 (c), Camper at Mile-Away-Campground, 479 Old West Hopkinton Road, Henniker, NH 03242, Site W-3

A copy of the petition to business owners in the area:

We the seasonal campers at Mile-Away Campground respectfully request your support as a local business owner, as we object to the Real Estate Property tax that is now being levied upon us this year by the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) Property Appraisal Division.

We request that you support us in our efforts to object and show our opposition to this tax since we do not own real estate property in NH. We own travel trailers for which we have titles not deeds. Since we do not own real estate property, or have a residence here, how can/should we be taxed for it.

We are seasonal tourists who occupy our travel trailers, which are not residences, for temporary seasonal recreational use only. However, during the 6 month temporary camping season while we are here visiting, we do bring in a substantial amount of revenue to the Henniker community. We support your local businesses, gas stations, restaurants, hardware stores and many other businesses. So collectively, seasonal campers have a very great financial impact on the local economy. Should we be forced to stop camping in NH due to the financial imposition that this unjust tax poses to returning seasonal campers, then this could and definitely would have a significant negative financial impact on the whole local economy. It definitely would affect the business of Bob French the owner of Mile-Away campground who many of you well know, and it could potentially even close the campground due to the lack of returning business from the seasonal campers who are already putting their trailers up for sale now. Bob French fully supports our efforts to have this tax rescinded, and has been very active in his own right in his objection to it as a selectman for some time now.

We all love camping here in Henniker, N.H., and bringing our families and children to this area to explore, visit, shop and enjoy. However, we may be forced to discontinue this wonderful American tradition with our families in N.H. should this unjust tax continue to be levied on us, as tourists and visitors who are not even residents here, in the future.

Therefore, we respectfully request that you support us by signing this petition to the DRA to object to this unjust and inaccurately assessed R.E. tax which has been levied on all seasonal campers with travel trailers. We sincerely appreciate any and all support you can give to this effort.

Sincerely yours,

The Seasonal Campers at Mile-Away Campground