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NPR Survey: Campground Tax Enforcement Likely to Spread

June 22, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

Map shows county boundaries in state of New Hampshire.

Editor’s Note: The following is an editorial that appeared in StateImpact, a reporting project of local public media and National Public Radio in New Hampshire. Reporters Amanda Loder and Emily Corwin travel the state to report on how business and economic issues affect their listeners. 

Taxing campgrounds is a divisive issue. In July 2009 the New Hampshire legislature extended the meals and rooms tax to campgrounds — but then repealed that tax nine months later. It had been met with too much opposition, and had failed to produce the expected revenue.

But that doesn’t mean campers are in the clear. Yesterday, the Concord Monitor ran a story we highly recommend about seasonal tenants returning to campgrounds to find a new tax — a property tax, this time — awaiting some, but not all, campers. Reporter Tricia Nadolny writes that as tenants returned to Deering’s Oxbow Campground, which straddles the Hillsborough-Deering town line, “an odd arrival split the campsite in two: those who got property tax bills and those who didn’t.”

This time it’s not the legislature that is responsible for the change, but a Hopkinton tax assessor. As Nadolny reported in an earlier article, the CEO of Cross Country Appraisal Group determined that there was precedent to tax campground trailers as real estate based on a 2002 New Hampshire Supreme Court case between the town of Laconia and two campground owners. Now, the tax is being applied by the Department of Revenue Administration.

According to Deering town administrator Craig Ohlson, the taxes are showing up in some New Hampshire towns but not others because each town is on a different property revaluation schedule. The town of Deering was revaluated in 2010, and the assessment from that revaluation is now going into effect. Other towns like Hillborough, Ohlson said, may not be experiencing these taxes because the town’s property hasn’t been revaluated yet. Ultimately, he expects that all municipalities will be enforcing the new property tax.

If Ohlson is right, it’s only a matter of time before the Hillsborough campers in Nadolny’s story face the same tax, too.

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