New Hampshire brings income tax dispute to Supreme Court

The lack of an income tax in New Hampshire is part of the state’s identity and has helped boost per capita income, decrease unemployment and motivated businesses and individuals to move to the state

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to strike down a regulation that requires roughly 80,000 of its residents who are employed by Massachusetts companies to pay income taxes in the neighboring state while they work from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Massachusetts cannot balance its budget on the backs of our citizens, punish our workers for making the decision to work from home and keep themselves and their families and those around them safe,” New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said at a news conference. “New Hampshire has no choice but to seek relief in our nation’s highest court. We’re going to fight this unconstitutional attempt to tax our citizens every step of the way and we are going to win.”

Under a temporary rule enacted by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, residents of other states who were working in Massachusetts before the pandemic remain subject to Massachusetts’ 5.05% income tax while they work from home. While the regulation will expire Dec. 31 or 90 days after the coronavirus state of emergency in Massachusetts is lifted, New Hampshire officials argue it represents a permanent shift in underlying policy and amounts to an “aggressive attempt to impose Massachusetts income tax” beyond its borders.

The lack of an income tax in New Hampshire is part of the state’s identity, they argue, and has helped boost per capita income, decrease unemployment and motivated businesses and individuals to move to the state.

“By reaching across its borders into the wallets of New Hampshire residents, Massachusetts takes direct aim at New Hampshire’s policy choices as a sovereign, and the New Hampshire Advantage that has resulted from those choices,” wrote Attorney General Gordon MacDonald.

The complaint asks the court to declare the rule unconstitutional, block its implementation and order Massachusetts to refund the taxes. MacDonald said he expects the court to decide by the end of the year whether to hear the case.

Massachusetts officials have said the regulation is similar to those adopted by other states and have declined to comment on pending litigation.

HOSPITAL BANKRUPTCY

A network of hospitals and clinics in the state’s Lakes Region filed for bankruptcy on Monday.

Citing financial mismanagement, lost revenue and the coronavirus pandemic, LRGHealthcare announced it was filing for bankruptcy. The not-for-profit healthcare charitable trust said it was hoping to keep its doors open through an possible acquisition deal with Concord Hospital.

Concord Hospital would take over Lakes Region General Hospital, Franklin Regional Hospital as well as its affiliated medical practices and service program.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu welcomed the news of the possible acquisition.

“This potential acquisition by Concord Hospital is welcome news and provides a path toward long term financial stability that will allow LRGH to continue to provide critical services for the citizens of the Lakes and Three Rivers region,” Sununu said in a statement.

THE NUMBERS

As of Sunday, nearly 9,670 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire since the pandemic started earlier this year. One new death was announced, bringing the total to 467.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has risen over the past two weeks from 68 new cases per day on Oct. 4 to 86 new cases per day on Oct. 18.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.