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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Live Blogging the Tax Summit- Andy Sanborn

Andy Sanborn- Owner, The Draft Bar and Grill, Concord, on behalf of the New Hampshire Restaurant and Lodging Association.

He says the New Hampshire lodging and restaurant industry is the largest taxpayer in New Hampshire, with 12,000 outlets, 67,000 employees, and pay $210 million in Rooms and Meals tax in addition to all the other business taxes.

Sanborn says few people know the total taxes they pay. He listed all the taxes that his business pays. He says a restaurant with $1 million in business pays the BET, BPT, gas tax, beer tax, vehicle registration, liquor license, liquor training, insurance taxes, property taxes, FICA, and dozens more. He says that totals $164,000 in business taxes, before he pays any personal taxes. He says the tax burden represents 16% of the company's revenue, ranking third among his expenses behind the cost of food and paying his employees.

Sanborn also list the 37 taxes paid by gravel pits, as another example of hidden taxes not known to most New Hampshire residents. He says taxes are this business's fourth highest expense.

Sanborn adds that regulatory taxes also burden businesses, including annual testing for dust in the air at the gravel pit. He says over the last seven years, the gravel pits he's approached have always paid the minimum assessment of $46.10.

He argues that businesses can only pay so much in taxes before they have to pass along those expenses to customers. He says that threatens their ability to pay for health insurance and pay raises, and ultimately comes from those living in and visiting the state.

He acknowledges the role of businesses to contribute to the state through taxation, but says the current level of taxation has become unreasonable. He says if the State of New Hampshire operated like a business, it would have to pay $1.9 billion in taxes. And he points out that the Legislature is currently fighting over $110 million in the JUA Lawsuit.

He says lawmakers should spend as much time on making sure government is operating efficiently as in raising revenue. He says every business has to look at expenses, and so should government. He says legislators, especially those who want more revenue, should realizes that businesses have reached the maximum level that they can be taxed.

He says the biggest fear isn't unemployment, but the larger number who are underemployed. He says the state is losing out because these people can't participate in the economy as much as they want to.

"We believe that you should help business expand, and that expansion will result in more tax revenue under the existing structure."

He says when a company moves out of state, or consolidates into another state, New Hampshire loses those jobs and tax revenues forever. Sanborn points to the example of Des Moines, Iowa providing tax incentives to Hollywood as a way to attract jobs.

He says that as a tourism state, New Hampshire has the opportunity to attract visitors, even though it has raised it Rooms and Meal Tax and now charges people to sleep on the ground.

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