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  State Known as Anti-Tax Hears Calls for Reform
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Last EditedArmyDem  Mar 20, 2008 07:44pm
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MediaNewspaper - New York Times
News DateSaturday, March 22, 2008 01:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionBy KATIE ZEZIMA
Published: March 21, 2008

DURHAM, N.H. — For decades, it has virtually been a requirement that elected state officials in New Hampshire take “The Pledge,” a promise not to institute a broad-based income or sales tax.
But now there is a growing movement to reject that pledge and overhaul the state’s tax system.

A nonbinding measure calling for tax reform appeared on the town meeting agenda of 96 communities in the last two years, and it has passed in about 70 percent of them, including at least 67 in the last week.

Supporters of the measure say the goal is to ease the tax burden on homeowners. Opponents say it is a backdoor effort to pass an income or sales tax in a state that neither wants nor needs them.

“New Hampshire is overreliant on property tax,” said Paul Henle, executive director of the Granite State Fair Tax Coalition, which placed the item on the town agendas. Opponents point out that the group focused on towns with extremely high tax rates.

Mr. Henle, however, says new taxes are not the goal.

“We need a rebalancing of our revenue priorities,” Mr. Henle said. “We do understand that if less money comes from the property tax, it has to come from somewhere else. It could be an existing revenue source, a new revenue source. It could conceivably be a new tax, it could be gambling. We don’t know.”

New Hampshire is a study in tax contrasts — the lack of broad-based income or sales taxes gives it the lowest overall tax burden in the nation, but the property tax burden is the country’s third highest. The only other state without a state income tax or a statewide sales tax is Alaska, said Gerald Prante, a senior economist at the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group.
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