N.H. Lawmakers To Weigh Future Of "Current Use" Property Tax

Dec 28, 2017

A bill to study the impact of lower tax rates for undeveloped land will be considered in the legislative session beginning next month.

The tax structure is known as “current use.” It started decades ago as a part of a pro-environment push.

Basically, landowners who keep their property undeveloped — keep it forested, for example — pay a significantly lower tax rate, in theory encouraging them to preserve their land.

But some argue it simply transfers the financial burden to  other residents, who have to make up the difference when it comes to funding schools and keeping local governments running.

“The more people you have paying property taxes — and paying them fairly — the property tax will then go down for everyone else,” says Rep. Francis Gauthier, a Republican from Claremont.

An estimated 70 percent of land in Claremont qualifies for a current use tax rate, he says. Meanwhile, Claremont has one of the highest tax rates in the state. (Scroll down to see a map of tax rates in New Hampshire towns.)

Gauthier is sponsoring a bill that would form a committee to study the impact of the tax policy on small and rural communities. 

Map: Tax rates in New Hampshire towns