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Governor to call special legislative session to fight back against online sales tax ruling



Associated Press
Thursday, June 28, 2018

New Hampshire is fighting back against the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that states can force online shoppers to pay sales tax.

The state prides itself on having neither a sales nor income tax, but officials say the high court’s June 21 ruling could burden its small businesses and threaten New Hampshire’s very identity.

“Live Free or Die, we say it all the time. It’s not just four words on the license plate. It is the spirit, the embodiment of what it is to be in the Granite State,” Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday.

The ruling says that states can require online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases that come from states where they don’t have any shops, offices or warehouses. It was a victory for states that said they were losing billions of dollars in revenue every year.

Sununu said he will call for a special legislative session next month to pass a bill protecting the state’s tax advantage. It would require any jurisdiction seeking to collect sales taxes in New Hampshire to get approval from the state’s Department of Justice, and would authorize the attorney general to file expedited lawsuits against scofflaws.

“With this proposal we’ll send a message to every out-of-state taxing jurisdiction and authority: If you try come into our state and force our businesses to collect their sales tax, you’re gonna have the fight of your life,” he said. “I expect most states will be thinking long and hard before trying to come after our businesses to do their work.”

Sununu called the court ruling both untenable and unconstitutional, citing a provision granting the state’s residents the sole and exclusive right to govern themselves as an independent state.

The governor was joined at a news conference by legislative leaders, Attorney General Gordon MacDonald and Jeff Bart, owner of Granite State Candy Shoppe. The shop, with locations in Concord and Manchester, also sells candy online.

“For me it’s going to be quite a burden, so I appreciate all the effort and help here,” Bart said.

Sununu will present his request for a special session to the Executive Council on July 11.

Also on Thursday, New Hampshire’s Democratic U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, along with Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, introduced legislation to essentially overturn the court ruling. Shaheen and fellow Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon also asked the Small Business Administration to develop a plan to help businesses comply with the ruling.