There are a lot of things about New Hampshire that are unique. And more importantly, there are a lot of those things that are worth boasting about.
One of them is our stubborn resistance to any broad-based taxes. New Hampshire is the only state that has neither a sales nor an income tax. In fact, our aversion is so severe that every election cycle we force our candidates to “take the pledge” against instituting either.
One fringe benefit of our lack of a sales tax is a tremendous amount of cross-border shopping. People from Massachusetts, Maine, or Vermont will drive miles to avoid paying taxes on their purchases.
Of course, these states have laws against this, requiring their subjects — er, “residents” — to notify the state of their purchases and pay the tax anyway. But it’s an utterly unenforceable law, and I don’t recall the last time anyone was hauled in for it.
Naturally, merchants of these states who live near the New Hampshire border have been getting screwed for years. They can’t compete with businesses that don’t have to tack on an additional 5% on to every sale and render it unto Caesar. And last year, Massachusetts merchants finally got the solons to listen to them.
For two days last August, just in time for “back to school” shopping, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts suspended the sales tax.
But this IS Massachusetts, remember. There were more strings attached to this “tax holiday” than were used in filming “Team America.” The main one was a ceiling — the tax was only suspended for items costing less than $2500.
But to a starving man, even the smallest morsel can be a feast. Sales skyrocketed, and I recall a few clever entrepeneurs offered “$2499 specials” for the weekend only.
It was such a hit, in fact, that they’re doing it again this year, on August 13 and 14.
Now, New Hampshire wasn’t overly thrilled by this. That little shenanigan probably cost our businesses a tidy hunk of change. But we took it philosophically. We’ve been benefiting from their stupidity and greed for ages; there was no guarantee it would last forever.
But this year, we’re trying something new. Our new governor, on hearing about the next Massachusetts Tax Holiday, put together an ad campaign that will run up to and during that weekend. It’ll remind Massachusetts shoppers that New Hampshire’s tax holiday isn’t two days a year, but 365 days.
I really haven’t heard too much about our new governor, Democrat Peter Lynch, but based on this little performance, I think he just might be OK.