New Hampshire retailers voice opposition to new tax on electronic devices

New Hampshire tax
(Eric Glenn / photo)

CONCORD, N.H. (The Center Square) — Advocates for New Hampshire retailers have voiced strong opposition to proposed legislation that would put a tax on electronic devices.

House Bill 1492 would create a 4.3 percent tax on the retail sale of electronic devices, including computers, TVs, video games and cellphones.

The revenue would be put toward funding education in the state.

In an email response to The Center Square, New Hampshire Retail Association president/CEO Nancy Kyle provided excerpts of a briefing that the group sent to legislators.

“In the coming legislative session, you’ll be asked to consider HB 1492, which would establish a tax on the retail sale of electronic devices,” the briefing said. “The New Hampshire Retail Association has a long record of opposing sales tax proposals in all shapes and forms, including this one.”

The briefing notes that the strength of the state’s retail economy is due in large part to its tax-free shopping, a key draw for tourists and residents alike.

The association said that the proposal would cost jobs, lower commercial property values and “create a significant loss of cross-border sales, meaning diminished returns from other state revenue sources such as business taxes, meals and rooms tax, gas tax, etc.”

In conclusion, the briefing states, “This proposal is terrible for consumers, terrible for retailers, and terrible for the state’s economy and budget, and we, therefore, ask the House Ways & Means Committee to swiftly kill this bill.”

commentary piece published by former State Rep. Kevin Scully of Nashua also notes, “Who will drive up to Nashua NH, or any other border town, to buy things once this sales tax has been imposed?

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“It will devastate our businesses all along the Massachusetts border. We will lose much of the local property tax business base and the revenue those businesses generate for our City and our State,” Scully wrote. “Nashua should expect shuttered stores, unemployed people, and significant property tax increases.”

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Skip Cleaver, D-Nashua, told the Union Leader the state needs to put more money toward education, and that “what makes us stupid as a society” should help pay for it.

“I thought maybe a limited broad-based tax would be a good step in the right direction,” Cleaver said.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has repeatedly indicated that he will veto any legislation from the Democratic-controlled Legislature that raises taxes in the state.

Reporting by Sarah Downey

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