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Despite Last Year's Failure, Bipartisan Internet Sales Tax Bill Reintroduced

NHPR Staff

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are reviving a bill voted down last summer during a special session, as the state continues to search for a way to respond to the Wayfair Supreme Court ruling.

The decision, which cleared the way for states to require businesses to collect and remit a sales tax when they sell a good in that state, was seen as a blow to New Hampshire, where companies have little experience collecting sales tax. In the wake of the ruling, Gov. Chris Sununu called for a special session where lawmakers attempted to pass a bill that would have erected a series of hurdles for any state that sought to enforce its sales tax rules on New Hampshire companies.

The final bill cleared the Senate on a 24-0 vote, but was effectively gutted in the House. Lawmakers in the lower chamber cited a range of concerns, from fear that passing a bill legitimized the court’s ruling, to worry that passing legislation would encourage businesses to not collect a sales tax, clearing the way for steep fines and fees.

Despite that outcome, the same text was reintroduced this week as Senate Bill 242. Among other provisions, it requires foreign taxing jurisdictions to register with the N.H Department of Justice and prove that its tax is constitutional, along with creating a commission tasked with looking into ways to better protect New Hampshire businesses.

Lawmakers are also consideringat least three other related bills this session that attempt to mitigate the impact of the Wayfair ruling.

New Hampshire is one of five states with no broad-based sales tax, meaning businesses here have little experience or infrastructure necessary to collect and remit a sales tax to a foreign entity. There are more than 10,000 distinct taxing districts, including state, county and local taxes.

While software exists to ease the regulatory burden on businesses, many fear that its price tag is prohibitive for small businesses.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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