Income Tax Amendment Takes A Backseat To Tight Races

Nov 1, 2012

Protecting New Hampshire from a broad-based sales or income tax has been a major issue in New Hampshire elections for decades – at least according to political scientist Dean Spiliotes.

"It goes back to the 1970s when Governor Meldrim Thomson pledged to veto any sales or income tax."

And this year’s races for Governor, and even Congress have been no different. 

But for all the talk around the income tax this season, the proposed constitutional amendment banning a personal income tax hasn’t gotten much attention.


Kevin Smith became the chair of a No Income Tax PAC after losing his party’s Gubernatorial primary to Ovide Lamontagne. At a recent press conference, Smith hinted that money has something to do with it.

"Uh you know we don’t have a large budget, but we have enough to get some signs done, some literature, and go up on radio."

A UNH poll released in late October showed that the amendment is unlikely to receive the 67% of votes it needs to become law.  Smith says had there been a longer campaign for the income tax amendment, the issue could have driven more supporters to the polls.

"I think had there been a longer campaign on it, and people got more educated on it prior to the primary, it might have driven turnout more."

Jeff McLynch is the executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, and is campaigning against the income tax ban. He says elections and the legislative process are the best way to deal with state tax policy – not the constitution

"It’s about the constitution, it’s about the way we make choices, and about the choices we’re going to allow our children and grandchildren to make."  

Grant Bosse works for the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy – a conservative think tank.  In January, he wrote an article for the NH Watchdog saying that although he thinks an income tax is a, quote, really bad idea, banning it would be politically unsavvy. He says that the threat of an income tax gives Republicans a huge advantage when it comes to winning elections:

"Democrats would like to have a race where we’re not talking about taxing and spending, because those are traditionally strong Republican issues, Republicans would prefer to fight on those terms, Democrats would prefer to fight on other issues, education, healthcare, issues where their message has a little more support."

Bosse says that if Democrats want to win more elections in New Hampshire, they should vote for the proposed income tax ban even though they don’t support it.  Not very likely.