LACONIA — City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday that a bill that would exempt recreational vehicles from property taxation could cost the city approximately $200,000 in annual property tax revenue.
Senate Bill 333, sponsored by Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), exempts recreational vehicles that do not remain in any one town, city or incorporated place for more than 45 days, unless they are stored or placed on a rented campsite, from property taxation. The statutory definition of a recreational vehicle includes motor homes, vans, pickup campers and tent trailers as well as recreational trailers of 400-square-feet or less. The bill stipulates that recreational vehicles shall be deemed personal, not real, property and not liable to property taxation.
Myers estimated that as many as 400 properties in the city with an aggregate value of about $10 million would be exempted from property taxation if the bill succeeds. The bill carried the Senate by a unanimous vote of 24 to 0, but has not yet been introduced in the House of Representatives. Myers said that he intended "to put our local representatives on notice that this is a concern."
The issue arose from a court decision in 1999, which was reaffirmed in 2002, the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration began advising cities and towns to tax recreational vehicles as real property. The result was what Forrester called a "crazy quilt" as recreational vehicles parked at campgrounds were treated differently by different municipal assessors. Some are taxed as real property while others are not. Some municipalities bill the owners of the recreational vehicles while others bill the owners of the campgrounds.
In a prepared statement issued after the vote in the Senate, Forrester said that "the inconsistent application of our tax code causes confusion for businesses across our state, and the patchwork of laws that have applied to campground owners in recent years has been among the worst. By clarifying the legislature's intent on these laws," she continued, "it is my hope that the owners of the state's 117 private campgrounds will have the stability and clarity they need to operate their businesses without undue burdens from state government.