Are N.H. business tax cuts worth the trouble?
Press conference tries to shine a light on effects of proposed BPT, BET reductions
Tom Strickland, owner of Sequoya Technologies Group in Peterborough, is “no fan of paying taxes,” but there he was on Monday, in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building in Concord, at a press conference arranged by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, asking lawmakers not to cut his business taxes.
“It sounds like a good thing for business,” he said, but when he ran the numbers on Sequoya – an IT firm that serves local businesses to the tune of about $1 million in sales a year – he figured a cut in state business taxes would mean he’d end up saving $150 for the year – the price of a “very nice dinner out,” he said, but not enough to prompt him, or any other business, to expand.
Bigger firms might save more, he said, but on a percentage basis, the savings are even smaller. Besides, he said, 93 percent of the businesses in New Hampshire are smaller than his.
What concerns him, he said, are the possible effects of tax cuts proposed in Senate Bills 1 and 2 on the already lean budget passed by the House, particularly when it comes to education and the environment.
The state’s quality of life, and its access to a skilled work force was the reason he set up shop here in 1997.
Both bills have already been approved but tabled by the Senate.
SB 1 would gradually cut the business profits tax from the current 8.5 percent to 7.9 percent by fiscal 2019, in a .20 percent increments. SB 2 would cut the business enterprise tax from the current .75 of a percent to .675 percent over the same period.
The House budget plan contains $300 million less in spending than the plan proposed by Gov. Maggie Hassan.
That means less money going to the university and community college systems, aide to local school districts the elimination of some social service programs, the end of expanded Medicaid, and the raiding of the state’s renewable energy fund.
Strickland was literally the lone voice of business to show up at the institute’s press conference, which was dominated by representatives from nonprofits, many of which would be directly affected by the cuts.
But the institute listed 18 other New Hampshire businesses that oppose the tax cuts, although no business organizations were represented.
Most business groups either support the cuts or at least don’t oppose them, though they have not been high on their agenda. Many are just privately relieved that there doesn’t seem to be any move to raise business taxes to balance the budget.
But the institute’s executive director, Jeff McLynch, said they do have a reason to oppose tax cuts: Most surveys show that taxes, he said, fall low on the list of businesses’ concerns.
“They are much more interested in a robust infrastructure,” McLynch said.