NHDRA takes taxpayer outreach on the road
Part of effort to streamline meals and rooms tax communication
The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration says it is transforming the way taxpayers interact with the agency, particularly when it comes to its most active taxpayer group: the restaurants and lodging facilities that collect the state meals and rentals tax, also known as the rooms and meals tax.
There are currently more than 9,300 operators who collect the 9% tax in New Hampshire, with an average of more than 1,000 new operators registering every year, the agency said. As the taxpayer group with the highest volume of interactions with NHDRA, the department said it has been positioning itself for a new era of communication with the operators through the creation of new communication avenues, in-person trainings and additional resources.
The tax, which generated more than $331.6 million in revenue in the 2018 fiscal year, is the state’s third-largest revenue generator.
“M&R operators are unique to any other tax group, as they remit tax payment on a monthly basis, and new operators are being licensed every day, so we are making a concerted effort to ensure this group is provided the resources needed to remain compliant with the ability to further succeed and grow, which starts with an open line of communication,” said NHDRA Commissioner Lindsey Stepp.
And to ensure that the communication is effective, the agency is reaching out in the summer.
“Of the more than 9,300 M&R operators in the state right now, NHDRA estimates that more than 34% are seasonal, meaning amusement parks, campgrounds, golf courses, mobile vendors and more, making summer a particularly important season for this taxpayer group,” said Stepp.
She said that between June and September, NHDRA is sending compliance officers into the field to cover more than 70 fairs and festivals throughout the state.
According to Stepp, NHDRA, through in-person visits or pre-event prep with event coordinators, provides an on-site resource at the events for M&R operators who attend and work at these events. NHDRA compliance officers wear branded gear for easy identification if operators have questions about their standing, deadlines and more, she said.
In addition, the agency is hoping to make the process easier for the operators through other initiatives, including:
• Opportunities for feedback: A flier solicits feedback from operators on how NHDRA can make improvements when it comes to communicating with them. A specific email address was created for the exclusive purpose of giving operators access to staff dedicated to tracking their suggestions and responding as needed.
• Working with chambers of commerce: For the first time, NHDRA visited chambers of commerce throughout the state this past tax season to offer insight into tax form changes, relevant legislative changes, common filing errors and an overview of various taxes business owners pay, including the M&R tax.
• Taxpayer portal: NHDRA is gearing up for the launch of its new Revenue Information Management System (RIMS), which includes a user portal for taxpayers. The portal will allow customers to complete tasks online, such as file taxes, schedule automated online payments, request and review documentation, check on the status of payment, claim or request, and more. RIMS will be rolled out in phases by tax type, and the agency selected M&R operators as one of the three taxpayer groups to get access in the portal’s first rollout. The agency said it plans to ramp up efforts this summer through dedicated mailings, electronic communications and trainings to ensure operators are comfortable with the new system when it is unveiled later this year.
• Dedicated online resources: A webpage dedicated exclusively to M&R operators includes tax filing links, forms and instructions, and frequently asked questions. There’s also an option to sign up for M&R-specific emails that include information about upcoming trainings, relevant legislative changes and NHDRA announcements.
“M&R operators interact with us at least once a month during their mid-month filing, which is more than most taxpayers by a long shot, so we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure their experiences with us are positive ones,” said Ora LeMere, director of the agency’s Collections Division. “It is our hope that M&R operators consider us more than just tax collectors, but a resource in helping them succeed and grow their businesses.”