House OKs upping BPT income thresholds

The NH House quietly passed a bill Wednesday that would result in fewer businesses having to file a business profits tax return.

The NH House quietly passed a bill Wednesday that would result in fewer businesses having to file a business profits tax return. But don’t get too excited. It won’t take effect until the 2018 tax year. And the bill still has a way to go to become law.

House Bill 531 would increase filing thresholds from $50,000 of minimum gross business income to $75,000. The original bill would have lifted it to $100,000, but Ways and Means Committee members were cautious after learning that the maximum revenue loss would be $1.53 million, while the compromise would cost under $1 million.

The $50,000 threshold has been in place since 1993, and had previously been set for $12,000. The bill was tucked into the consent calendar, which means it didn’t get a separate vote, but it still needs to go to the Senate and be signed by the governor before becoming law.

Also on Wednesday, the House killed HB 664, which would have extended the interest and dividends tax to cover capital gains.

Rep. Richard Ames, D-Jaffrey, argued those who collect capital gains tend to be more wealthy than those earning dividends, but escape paying taxes.

The bill would have increased the standard personal exemption under the interest and dividends tax from $2,400 to $7,500 and the senior exemption from $1,200 to $5,000. In addition, the change would actually lower the capital gains that small proprietors and partners pay via the Business Profits Tax, Ames said.

The bill, however, would not be revenue-neutral. Ames said it could raise $113 million.

But Rep. Bill Ohm, R-Nashua said that this amounted to a “brand new tax” and argued that eventually it would go up, like all taxes tend to do. Instead, “We should live within our means.”

The House defeated the bill on a roll call vote, 200-137.

Business Advocate

The House also passed HB 452, which would establish an Office of Business Advocate in the Department of Resources and Economic Development, an item on Gov. Chris Sununu’s wish list, but sent it off to the House Finance Committee to see how much it would cost.

The House also sent HB 641 to the Finance Committee. That bill would set up a statewide dual enrollment program that would give high school students taking STEM courses college graduation credit. The committee will decide how much it would take to fund it. The House, however, killed a bill that would have paid the tuition of college students who promised to work in the state, though it tabled a bill that might have reduced their tuition.

It also tabled HB 621, which would have established a road usage fee for low-mileage cars. Under the bill, electric cars would have paid a $123.33 surcharge on their registration. Cars getting 51 miles per gallon would have paid $77, and even those getting 22.5 to 25 would pay an extra $7.70. Only cars with less than that would not have to pay a surcharge. Supporters said that since the owners of such vehicles pay less of the gas tax, this would be a way to contribute to maintaining the highways. Opponents said it would provide a perverse incentive to buy and keep gas guzzlers that contribute to climate change.

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