Exeter, N.H., to Enforce Camping Trailer Tax?
The town of Exeter, N.H., is facing the unpopular task of taxing travel trailers.
A New Hampshire Supreme Court ruling from several years ago calls for the valuing and taxing of such trailers if they are determined to be permanent structures.
While taxing such structures is law, not all communities do it. However, Town Assessor John DeVittori recently told the Board of Selectmen that the state Department of Revenue Administration is starting to put more pressure on communities to enforce the law, seacoast online.com reported.
Under the Supreme Court ruling there are four factors that make a travel trailer taxable:
- Whether the trailer is intended to be more or less permanent.
- Whether the trailer is more or less completely enclosed.
- Whether the trailer is used as a dwelling, storehouse or shelter.
- Whether the trailer is intended to remain stationary.
Exeter Elms Campground and Green Gate Campground are both located off Court Street in Exeter. DeVittori estimated that each site has 12-20 permanent trailers but noted that a full inventory needs to be done.
DeVittori said the Green Gate Campground has trailers both in Exeter and Kensington, as the town line goes through the campground. He said Kensington plans to value and tax its permanent travel trailers starting in the spring.
DeVittori said the town's local tax rate would equate to $227 a camper.
DeVittori said having to value and tax the trailers would be a significant effort and will bring with it some additional headaches. "It's the law, it should be done, no questions asked," DeVittori said. "But it's not a lot of money for the effort you put into it."
All the tax bills would have to be sent to the campground owners, because some campers are unregistered and it's unknown where the owners reside, according to DeVittori.
DeVittori said another point to consider is that a non-payment of taxes would result in a lien, and after two years and a day the town would own and have to dispose of the trailer.
Selectman Donald Clement asked what would happen if someone moved the trailer before it got taxed.
Board Chairman Matt Quandt, who also serves as a state representative, said the law doesn't address that issue and said the "camper tax" may be the subject of future legislation. But in the meantime, Selectman Frank Ferraro said the town should be taxing the trailers.
DeVittori said if the town were to start valuing and taxing such structures, it would start prior to April 1, 2013.
DeVittori said he will start talking with campground owners to get their feedback, and the issue will likely be revisited in the fall.
The idea of the tax is not a popular one among campground owners. Audra Anderson, co-owner of Exeter Elms Campground, said she doesn't want to see the tax enforced.
Anderson said one of her big concerns is the fact the bills go to the campground owners and they have to distribute them.
"I have 75 seasonal sites, and it would be very time consuming," she said.
Anderson also fears that campground owners would become liable if someone didn't pay their taxes.