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Officials form task force to study response to sales tax ruling

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 02. 2018 9:39PM

CONCORD — State officials have formed a joint legislative task force to review potential legislation dealing with last month’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that states can force online shoppers to pay sales tax.

In a 5-4 vote last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states like South Dakota, which has a sales tax, could collect that sales tax from online retailers in other states, including the five states like New Hampshire that do not even have a sales tax of their own.

The creation of the task force comes ahead of a possible special legislative session this summer to pass a bill protecting New Hampshire’s tax advantage. The bill would require any jurisdiction looking to collect sales tax on purchases in New Hampshire to get approval from the state’s department of justice, and gives the attorney general the authority to file expedited lawsuits against those attempting to collect taxes without prior approval.

Last week, Gov. Chris Sununu announced he would ask the Executive Council to approve a request for a special legislative session at their July 11 meeting.

Rep. Norman Major, R-Plaistow, chair of the House Ways & Means committee, will chair the joint task force. Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, will serve as vice chair.

House members appointed to the task force include Rep. Pat Abrami, R-Stratham; Rep. Susan Almy, D-Lebanon; Rep. Richard Ames, D-Jaffrey; Rep. Barbara Griffin, R-Goffstown; Rep. Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack; Rep. Neal Kurk R-Weare; Rep. Lynne Ober, R-Hudson; Rep. Bill Ohm, R-Nashua; and Rep. Stephen Shurtleff, D-Penacook.

Senate members include Sen. Kevin Avard, R-Nashua; Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry; Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester; Sen. Gary Daniels, R-Milford; Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord; and Sen. Bob Giuda, R-Warren.

“I’m very proud of the team of legislators we’ve assembled, all of whom bring a wealth of expertise on policy areas relative to this court decision,” said Rep. Gene Chandler in a statement.

He said representatives are confident that their work will produce a recommendation on legislation that the House and Senate can swiftly vote on, if a special session is approved by governor.

“New Hampshire is very proud to have no sales tax. Our retail business community thrives because of our ‘no sales tax’ environment,” Chandler said. “To ask our retailers to collect taxes for thousands of other jurisdictions would be a huge burden on them, and we want to identify ways to protect and defend them from the implications of this court decision.”

“The creation of this task force is a first step towards protecting Granite State businesses from burdensome and unjust taxes from other states,” said Senate President Morse in a statement.

“The task force will closely look at the unanswered questions and the day to day burdens resulting from the recent Supreme Court decision. With input from people and small businesses across the state, a plan will be developed to protect New Hampshire taxpayers and to discourage other states from imposing their taxes across our border.”

An informational session for all legislators is scheduled for July 12 at 10 a.m. in Representatives Hall at the State House. Task force members and legislators will hear from experts who developed legislative concepts that the task force may reference when making recommendations.

The task force will hold its first meeting following the information session, and follow that up with work sessions on July 17, 18 and 19, with a deadline to issue a report and recommendation by July 19.

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