Fight Ahead in New Hampshire over Plan to Raise Banks' Taxes

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The New Hampshire Bankers Association is gearing up for numerous fights in next year's legislative session.

Lawmakers will debate more than 60 bills, and at least a third of them - not to mention the four that the bankers group helped develop - address banking.

However, it's a bill to increase banking taxes that New Hampshire banks, almost all of them homegrown, will watch most attentively.

Bank Franchise Tax

HB 1418, "would reinstitute the bank franchise tax, and we'll be working to fight it off' says Jerry Little, executive director of the bankers' group.

The franchise tax required banks to pay 1% of their annual payout for deposit interest. It was repealed after the state enacted the Business Enterprise Tax, which applied a 0.25% tax on bank interest - but also on salaries and dividends paid by all other New Hampshire businesses.

"There were some people who weren't very happy that the new tax would be slightly less for banks than the franchise tax had been," says Diane T. Vickers, senior vice president of government relations for the bankers group.

Donald Bossi, executive vice president of Centerpoint Bank, Bedford, N.H., says "it would seem to be very punitive if we're required to pay an added tax on interest. It's just another sign of overregulation in our industry."

Ms. Vickers argues that taxing interest twice would also be unconstitutional. Rep. Rick Newman, D-Portsmouth, who authored HB 1418, was not available for response.

Next on the "watch list" for the bankers group is HB 1320, by Bonnie Packard, R-Ipswich. The measure would allow a consumer to request an investigation of apparent errors in credit reports, and require the errors to be deleted if they are confirmed. …