Laural Redden- Vice President of Board of Directors, Granite State Fair Tax Coalition
Redden argues that the current revenue system for New Hampshire is unfair, unjust, and inadequate. She says that becomes apparent when the system is exposed to public debate.
She reports that 114 towns have voted on warrant articles against the current tax structure and "The Pledge" to veto broad based taxes. 83 towns approved the warrant, or 73%.
She provided a handout of a slide show arguing that New Hampshire needs to adopt a tax structure that accounts for an individual's or business's ability to pay, lowers property taxes for low income taxpayers, diversifies New Hampshire's revenue portfolio, expands the tax base, and offers simple administration and accountability.
Redden says the Coalition has not proposed, endorsed, or opposed alternatives to the property tax. She also says her group does not discuss state or local expenditures, only revenues.
She says the property tax is a broad based tax, but it ignores your ability to pay. She says the average New Hampshire family pays 5.8% of its income in property taxes, and that the problem can not be addressed through spending cuts or heavy handed caps on spending.
The Coalition has developed a series of questions as a "lens" through which to view whether a given tax is a good idea.
The "lens" asks who primarily pays each tax, and if it's related to their ability to pay. She also wants to know whether exceptions are made for those least able to afford it, and if those with higher incomes pay their fair share.
If a tax is used to fund a specific service, has revenue kept pace with demand for that service? Does the tax place businesses at a competitive disadvantage compared to other states? Are adverse impacts easily identifiable?
She also asks if a tax encourages businesses to make decisions based on economic advantages and not on tax savings, if out of states pay their fair share, and if there is a Federal offset to the tax.
Redden also calls for simplicity, transparency, and accountability in tax policy.
Redden presented a series of charts that the Coalition uses to highlights its opposition to New Hampshire's current tax system, including its reliance on property taxes to pay for local and state government, and a study which shows that the wealthiest residents pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes.