House votes to ease BET limits, then tables bill

Republicans in the New Hampshire House teased businesses again Wednesday by passing another bill that might benefit them before tabling it.This time they voted to raise the threshold on the amount of gross receipts a business must have before it is subject ot the Business Enterprise Tax — from $150,000 to $200,000 — which would mean that almost 20,000 businesses would no longer have to file.The bill — House Bill 154 — was supposed to be revenue-neutral, since most new non-filers wouldn’t have had to pay any tax, and the DRA would save money by not having to process all those forms. But the DRA didn’t see it that way.It said the original version of the bill would have cost the state anywhere from $1.6 million to $6.2 million. But that original version also increased the filing threshold of the enterprise value (wages, interest and dividends) from $50,000 to $75,000. In the version passed by the House, the enterprise threshold stayed the same, but there was no revised fiscal note to go along with the amended bill.”It is fiscally irresponsibile to pass a bill whose fiscal impact we can’t measure,” complained Rep. Susan Almy, D-Lebanon.Apparently the Republican majority agreed, because after it passed the measure on a 263-54 feel-good vote, Rep. Stephen Stepanek, the Ways and Means Committee chair, moved to table it.”We should not promise and take away,” complained Stephen Shurtleff, D-Penacook.”It is fiscally responsible to wait for the final fiscal note, after which we will take it off the table and pass it,” said Stepanek, a Milford Republican.Also on the table after passage is a previously approved cut in the rooms and meals tax, from 9 to 8 percent.However, on Wednesday the House leadership did allow a doubling from five years to 10 years in the loss carryforward period for the BET credit against the Business Profits Tax, without without knowing the fiscal impact and without tabling the measure. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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