If the Senate Finance Committee’s proposed budget becomes law, New Hampshire will at last become the only Northeastern state with no personal income tax.
New Hampshire markets itself as having no sales or income tax. But that’s not precisely true. Though the state does not tax individual earned income, it does tax personal income derived from interest and dividends. That is a personal income tax.
The budget proposed by the Senate Finance Committee would phase out the state’s interest and dividends tax over five years. (The House-passed budget and the governor’s proposed budget also would phase out the tax.)
That tax brought in $105.8 million in Fiscal Year 2018, $114.7 million in Fiscal Year 2019, and $125.7 million in Fiscal Year 2020.
That might sound like a lot of money, but for context state business taxes alone have brought in $174.5 million in additional, unplanned revenue so far this fiscal year. The state is more than $200 million in the black this year, and that’s despite a $65 million pandemic-related drop in rooms and meal tax revenue below what was budgeted.
In eliminating the interest and dividends tax, New Hampshire would follow Tennessee, which eliminated its Hall tax (on interest and dividend income) on Dec. 31, 2020. That tax was phased out over several years, beginning in 2016.
Being situated in Northern New England, New Hampshire has numerous geographical disadvantages that make it challenging to recruit businesses, entrepreneurs, retirees, and young people. It can’t change its weather or 18-mile coastline. But it can change its economic climate.
With an eye on economic and population growth, many other states are pursuing aggressive growth strategies that involve lowering tax rates and regulatory burdens. New Hampshire’s astounding economic growth over the last several decades can largely be attributed to its singular focus on growth-based economic policies. But as Massachusetts and other states have copied states like New Hampshire, Texas, Florida, and Tennessee, it’s become more difficult for New Hampshire to stand out — and to recruit entrepreneurs, businesses, and employees.
If it eliminated the interest and dividends tax, New Hampshire would join Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming to become the ninth state to levy no tax at all on personal income.
New Hampshire not only would be the only Northeastern state with no income tax, it would be the only one North and East of Tennessee. On top of New Hampshire’s already relatively competitive economic policies, that would help keep the New Hampshire Advantage alive.
Becoming truly income-tax-free would improve New Hampshire’s competitive position, not just in New England, but internationally. It would help preserve the New Hampshire Advantage in an increasingly competitive era in which states are working non-stop to attract an increasingly mobile workforce and entrepreneurial base.