The 9% tax on campgrounds in New Hampshire, dubbed the “tent tax,” was working against efforts to promote the state. And that’s likely a major reason both chambers of the state legislature agreed to repeal it. The latest action came in a vote in the state senate on Wednesday (April 7).
Gregg Pitman, executive director of the New Hampshire Campground Owners Association, said that potentially, the state could lose more revenue than it gains in tax dollars if the tax had been kept in place, according to an Associated Press account. It made New Hampshire one of the most expensive camping destinations in the Northeast, he said.
Pitman said the association has partnered at trade shows with state tourism officials. “We’re selling, ‘Come to New Hampshire, and camp here,'” he said. “Anything that makes that more difficult, like a 9% tax, isn’t helpful.”
The tax on campsites that took effect last July was the second of two highly unpopular taxes that appear headed for extinction.
That tax, and another one that affected some small business owners, were both passed during last-minute budget negotiations last year as a way to raise revenue.
Business owners balked at being subject to an 87-year-old tax affecting investors that was extended to them. Legislators have supported a repeal on the extension or putting aside the matter for further study. Gov. John Lynch eventually supported a repeal, saying the tax extension would not have generated enough money because businesses were finding a way around paying it.
On Wednesday, the Senate joined the House in voting to repeal the campsite tax for tents and recreational vehicles. It was an extension of the state’s tax on hotel rooms and restaurant meals. The matter now heads to Lynch, who has indicated he won’t challenge it.
“Any revenue reduction must be part of an overall plan to balance the budget, and the governor will be including the camping tax repeal as part of his plan,” Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said after the Senate vote.
The tax was expected to bring in $2.5 million a year. Supporters of the campsite tax argued that basic tent sites are assessed very little tax. Opponents said the tax would drive away campers, which could put campground owners out of business.
State Sen. Deborah Reynolds, D-Plymouth, opposed the tax, saying it deserves to be revisited in light of new information.
“We voted for the budget as a whole package, but we found the campground tax wasn’t producing anywhere near the revenue we were expecting,” she said. “It was burdensome on campground owners and was making it harder to promote tourism and recreation in our state.”