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Some Water Bills in Southern N.H. Could Rise Under New Tax Code

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Residents in southern New Hampshire could be looking at higher water bills because of a new federal tax on private water utilities.

The state has big plans this year for water systems in Atkinson, Hampstead, Plaistow, and other towns affected by contaminated groundwater and water shortages. But President Trump’s tax code that went into effect last year removed an exemption many had counted on to control construction costs.

Without it, private water utilities now have to pay 30 % federal tax on certain improvements. Senator Chuck Morse of Salem says that includes on a project underway in Hampstead and Atkinson to deal with groundwater contamination.

"I'm a little uptight about the federal government taxing anyone in New Hampshire that’s doing improvements like this," he said.

Morse says the new tax likely adds up to $1 million, which will be passed on to ratepayers in the towns.

At a "Clean Drinking Water Month" proclamation signing in Hampstead on Monday, Governor Sununu called the region a "top priority because of the need," and promised to continue efforts to connect residents to safe, clean drinking water.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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