Rating: Making progress
- New Hampshire is making progress because the state has adopted a plan for regular evaluation of tax incentives.
- Without a clear role for professional staff, New Hampshire’s law may not result in detailed analysis.
- Some of the state’s largest incentives provide loans and loan guarantees, but these programs are not included in the evaluation process.
New Hampshire evaluation law
Year enacted: 2014.a
Who evaluates: Joint Committee on Tax Expenditure Review.
Length of review cycle: Five years.
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Under a 2014 New Hampshire law, tax incentives will receive more scrutiny. The law created a panel of legislators called the Joint Committee on Tax Expenditure Review to study tax incentives on a five-year rotating cycle. Based on these reviews, the committee will recommend whether each incentive should be continued, modified, or repealed.b
One potential weakness of New Hampshire’s law is that it lacks a clear role for professional staff. The work of similar committees in other states is usually informed by analysis of the results of incentives from auditors, economists, or other professionals. In contrast, New Hampshire’s law envisions legislators themselves taking the lead role in drawing conclusions about incentives.
That strategy can work. North Dakota’s 2015 evaluation law also places a legislative committee in charge of evaluating incentives.c Working with legislative and executive branch staff to gather information, North Dakota legislators studied incentives in detail in 2016, including uncovering what some lawmakers see as a serious flaw in one of the state’s incentives.d But an approach that de-emphasizes staff evaluators puts the burden on the lawmakers to seek out information from state agencies and other stakeholders to carefully study incentives themselves. So far, New Hampshire’s committee is off to a slow start. In 2016, the panel met only briefly and did not offer detailed recommendations.e
New Hampshire’s process could also be broadened to cover more of the state’s major incentives. The committee is responsible for studying only tax incentives, but some of New Hampshire’s largest incentive programs are cash incentives—especially loans and loan guarantees. For example, in 2015, the Legislature expanded the credit limit of the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority to $115 million.f That move was designed to allow the authority to issue $28 million in bonds to help redevelop and reopen a resort in northern New Hampshire that closed in 2011.g Other states with large cash incentives, such as Oklahoma, have included them with tax incentives in evaluation processes.h That way, states can consider their full economic development portfolio and identify the most effective strategies.
- New Hampshire Rev. Stat. Ann. § 71-C:1 to 4, http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/NHTOC/NHTOC-V-71-C.htm.
- New Hampshire Rev. Stat. Ann. § 71-C:3, http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/V/71-C/71-C-3.htm.
- North Dakota Cent. Code § 54-35-26, http://www.legis.nd.gov/cencode/t54c35.pdf?20160317131134#page=12.
- North Dakota Legislative Branch, “Political Subdivision Taxation Committee,” updated Nov. 2, 2016, http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/64-2015/committees/interim/political-subdivision-taxation-committee; Nick Smith, “Lack of Angel Fund Tax Credit Transparency Raises Concerns,” Bismarck Tribune, April 26, 2016, http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/lack-of-angel-fund-tax-credit-transparency-raises-concerns/article_0a194b4b-aa31-5370-a8aa-dd1e0fe21248.html.
- State Representative Susan Almy (D), e-mail message to The Pew Charitable Trusts, Dec. 15, 2016.
- New Hampshire S.B. 30 (2015), http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_Status/bill_status.aspx?lsr=878 &sy=2015&sortoption=billnumber&txtsessionyear=2015&txtbillnumber=sb30.
- Robert Blechl, “Balsams Bill Passes House, Poised to Become Law,” The Caledonian Record, May 7, 2015, http://www.caledonianrecord.com/littleton_record/news/local/balsams-bill-passes-house-poised-to-become-law/article_00a1aade-11d2-5522-8a8c-7b587516e986.html.
- Oklahoma Stat. § 62-7002, http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/OK_Statutes/CompleteTitles/os62.rtf.