New Hampshire could consider lowering rooms and meals tax to spark tourism industry

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A potential decrease in the state’s rooms and meals tax could make New Hampshire more competitive in the New England tourism industry, but a percentage and timeline have not been determined.

When asked about possibly reducing the 9% rooms and meals tax at a news briefing earlier this month, Gov. Chris Sununu replied he would consider it, InDepthNH.org reported.

The travel and restaurant industry in New Hampshire, like every state in the nation, has seen dramatic losses due to mandated closures and restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mike Somers, chief executive officer of the New Hampshire Restaurant and Lodging Association, told The Center Square.

“When taxes are really high, it can give folks pause,” Somers said. “By lowering the tax, it puts us in a much more appealing position for folks to come to New Hampshire, and we would certainly welcome that.”

With no income tax and no sales tax, the meals and rooms tax is the third highest revenue generator for the state, and the state is currently facing a $500 million deficit due to the coronavirus, David Juvet, senior vice president for policy at the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, told The Center Square.

“The tax is nine cents on the dollar; I don’t know if one penny difference would induce more people to go out to eat,” Juvet said. “All things being equal, we would support it, but it’s not part of anything that’s been put forth.”

New Hampshire is hoping for a snowy ski season, otherwise from January through April, business always slows, Somers said.

“Restaurants and hotels have been hammered,” Somers said. “Any competitive advantage that we as a state can bring to the table, to bring in new visitors and bring back old friends, is going to be critically important to the survival and success of the industry.”

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