SEABROOK — A civil war's a brewin' over who has the right to impose a sales tax in the Granite State: New Hampshire or Massachusetts?
As far as New Hampshire officials are concerned, their southern neighbor needs to butt out of Granite State business.
"We need to send a clear message that Massachusetts and other states shall not impose their sales taxes on New Hampshire businesses," New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch said about the move by Massachusetts to make a New Hampshire tire store, Town Fair Tire Center, collect sales tax from its Massachusetts customers. "That is why I will be proposing legislation that will prohibit any New Hampshire business from collecting other states' sales taxes on items purchased in New Hampshire stores.
"I think it is outrageous that Massachusetts erroneously believes it can impose its sales tax here in New Hampshire. We have chosen not to have a sales tax here in New Hampshire, and we are not about to let Massachusetts — or any state — impose its sales tax on our businesses for items purchased in New Hampshire stores."
Town Fair Tire Centers, a Connecticut corporation, does business throughout New England, with several stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including one on Route 1 in Seabrook. It is fighting an order by Massachusetts to start collecting a 5 percent sales tax from Bay Staters who buy tires in "tax free" New Hampshire stores.
Seabrook's senator, Maggie Hassan, D-Exeter, is the prime sponsor of the legislation that would stop Massachusetts in its tax tracks. An attorney, Hassan is chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Committee and a member of the Senate Finance Committee.
"If Massachusetts chooses to tax its citizens for use of products they buy in other states, Massachusetts needs to find a way to collect that tax from their citizens and not put the burden on New Hampshire businesses," Hassan said yesterday. "This would place an undo burden on New Hampshire businesses. How is a store clerk supposed to know which of their customers comes from Massachusetts without collecting information about their addresses their customers may not want to give. This also taps into another issue that's very near and dear to our hearts in New Hampshire. That's privacy."