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Frequently Asked Questions - Municipal and Property Division

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What is the Municipal and Property Division responsible for?

The Municipal and Property Division is responsible for establishing and approving municipal, school, county, and village district tax rates; providing technical assistance, relative to taxation and finance to the political subdivisions of the state; and prescribing a uniform chart of accounts for all municipalities, schools, counties and village districts. The Division is also responsible for assisting and training municipal officials on the appraisal and assessment of real property, Timber Tax, and Excavation Tax; providing special appraisal services to state agencies.

Municipal | Property

 

Municipal

Property


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Municipal:

How can citizens at a town or school district meeting ensure that voting on a controversial issue is done by secret ballot?

New Hampshire RSA 40:4-a allows 5 (or 3 in small towns) voters to request such in writing prior to the vote; this could be done by simply writing a note to the moderator at the meeting.

Can a voter amend a warrant article from the floor of the meeting in such a way as to change the purpose of the article as posted?

No, RSA 32:6 states, in part, "No such meeting shall appropriate any money for any purpose unless that purpose appears in the budget or in a special warrant article, provided, however, that the legislative body may vote to appropriate more than, or less than, the amount recommended for such purpose in the budget or warrant, except as provided in RSA 32:18." For example, if the warrant contained an article to appropriate money to a capital reserve fund for police cruisers, the legislative body could not legally amend the article to buy a cruiser instead; putting money into a capital reserve is a different purpose than buying now.

If use of "surplus" is introduced from the floor at a town or school district meeting but was not included in the warrant, is that a permissible amendment?

Yes. The definition for "purpose" in RSA 32:3 is as follows: "Purpose" means a goal or aim to be accomplished through the expenditure of public funds. In addition, as used in RSA 32:8 and RSA 32:10, I(e), concerning the limitation on expenditures, a line on the budget form posted with the warrant, or form submitted to the department of revenue administration, or an appropriation contained in a special warrant article, shall be considered a single "purpose."

Note that "purpose" is defined in terms of expenditures, not revenues. It is the responsibility of the legislative body to vote appropriations, not revenues.

What is "surplus?

"Surplus" is an old term left over from cash-basis accounting. Since most governments changed to modified accrual accounting in the 1970s, the proper term to use now is "fund balance."

"Fund balance" is the difference between the assets and liabilities of the local government. One large asset in most towns is overdue taxes. Since those have not generated any cash to the local government yet, it's unwise to think of fund balance as cash.


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How can a town or school district meeting empower the town or school district to spend money which was not specifically voted on at the meeting?

Two ways:

1) Town or school district meeting can appoint their governing body as agents to expend from capital reserve funds or expendable trust funds, but only for the purposes of those funds; agents cannot be appointed for a land purchase unless the provisions of RSA 41:14-a have been adopted.

2) Town or school district meeting can, in a warrant article, empower their governing body "to apply for, accept and expend, without further action... unanticipated money from the state, federal or other governmental unit or a private source which becomes available during the fiscal year."  This power can be adopted each year or can be adopted until rescinded by the legislative body.

The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office has interpreted this statute to mean that the source of the money is unanticipated, such as a federal grant that becomes available after the annual meeting. Whenever an anticipated source of funding, such as Medicaid, arrives in a larger than anticipated amount, the extra cannot be spent without permission of the legislative body.

What can a citizen do to get a particular subject matter on the warrant?

A citizen could simply request of the governing body that the subject matter be a warrant article.  The governing body might either agree or decide not to include the subject in a warrant article.

The surest way to get a subject on the warrant is through the petition process.  According to RSA 39:3, the petition must be in writing and signed by 25 or more registered voters or 2 percent of the registered voters, whichever is less.  The wording must clearly state the subject and, if a money article, must state the amount of money being appropriated.  Sample warrant article wording is available on the Municipal and Property Division webpage on this website.

The petition must be in the hands of the selectmen no later than the five weeks before the date for the annual meeting (by RSA 39:1), that is the second Tuesday in March); for school districts, it must be in the hands of the school board no later than 30 days before the meeting or 30 days before the second Tuesday in March, whichever is earlier.  The deadline for petitioned warrant articles in municipalities which have adopted the official ballot law has been changed by the Legislature several times; please refer to the most recent version of RSA 40:13.


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What is the function of the budget committee?

The budget committee"s function is to prepare and recommend a budget for the town, any school or village district completely within the boundaries of the town. The recommendations are very important because the legislative body cannot legally adopt a budget exceeding the recommendations of the budget committee by more than 10%. The budget committee also reviews the spending of each entity periodically.

How can my town adopt or rescind a budget committee?

An official budget committee can be adopted by a town, a cooperative school district, a village district located in more than one town and a school district located in a municipality which cannot adopt a budget committee itself, such as a city. The wording of the warrant article should include a reference to RSA 32:14. Rescinding the adoption takes place the same way. The voting must be by ballot and needs a simple majority.

What is Senate Bill 2 (also known as SB2)?

In 1995, the New Hampshire Legislature passed Senate Bill 2, which became part of the Revised Statutes Annotated, RSA 40:12-15. This allows any local political subdivision of the State whose legislative body raises and appropriates funds through any annual meeting to adopt voting by official ballot on all warrant articles.

RSA 40:12-15 requires two sessions, the first of which shall consist of explanation, discussion and debate of each warrant article; voters may amend and vote on amendments, but no final vote may be taken on any warrant article. The second session of the annual meeting will be held to elect officers by official ballot, to vote on questions required by law to be inserted on said official ballot, and to vote on all warrant articles from the first session by official ballot.

What is the Debt Limit for my town/village/district or precinct?

This is located in our Equalization Survey Booklet. You can also find the current ratio for your town/city there.


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Property:

What is the basis for property tax assessment in New Hampshire?

RSA 75:1, How Appraised. Except with respect to open space land appraised pursuant to RSA 79-A:5 (Current Use) and residence appraised pursuant to RSA 75:11 (in commercial zone), the selectmen shall appraise all taxable property at its full and true value in money as they would appraise the same in payment of a just debt due from a solvent debtor, and shall receive and consider all evidence that may be submitted to them relative to the value of the property, the value of which cannot be determined by personal examination.

What can I do if I believe my property is over assessed?

If, in good faith, you believe your property is over assessed you may apply in writing on a form prescribed by the NH Board of Tax and Land Appeals (BTLA) to the selectmen or assessing officials for an abatement of the tax, no later than the March 1st following the date of notice. The selectman have until July 1st to grant or deny the application in writing. Failure to notify you of a decision by July 1st constitutes a denial of your request. If the selectmen neglect or refuse to so abate, you may, after the filing of the annual inventory of polls and taxable property and upon payment of a $65 filing fee, appeal in writing to the NH Board of Tax and Land Appeals or NH Superior Court on or before September 1st after the date of notice of tax.

In a dispute of property tax assessment, who has burden of proof?

RSA 76:16 Annotation 6. Burden of Proof. Plaintiffs in tax abatement cases have the burden of proving disproportionately with respect to other property in the municipality, by a preponderance of the evidence.

When applying for the Elderly Exemption and the disabled Exemption, what documents must I submit to the assessing officials and must the documents be kept confidential?

RSA 72:34, II. For those exemptions having income or asset limitations, the assessing officials may request two copies of any of the following, as needed, to verify eligibility.  Any documents submitted shall be considered confidential, handled so as to protect the privacy of the applicant, and returned to the applicant at the time a decision is made on the application. The documents are:

(a) Federal Income Tax form;
(b) State interest and dividends tax form; and
(c) Property tax inventory form filed in any other town.


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What must be included in net income when determining if I qualify for the Elderly Exemption?

RSA 72:39-a-(b) The net income shall be determined by deducting from all moneys received, from any source including social security or pension payments, the amount of any of the following or the sum thereof:

(a) Life insurance paid on the death of an insured;
(b) Expenses and costs incurred in the course of conducting a business enterprise;
(c) Proceeds from the sale of assets.

Who qualifies for the standard veteran's tax credit in New Hampshire?

The standard veteran's tax credit shall be $50 subtracted each year from the residential property tax bill. This amount is $100 in those towns which have formally adopted the higher amount. Every resident of this state who served not less than 90 days in the armed forces of the US in any qualifying war or armed conflict listed in RSA 72:28, and who was honorably discharged, or an officer honorably separated from the service; or the spouse or surviving spouse of such resident is eligible.

If the total of tax credits and tax exemptions to which I am entitled exceeds my property tax bill, must the town pay me the difference?

No. Tax credits and tax exemptions only give relief to the extent of the tax liability of the taxpayer.

Who determines the interest rate that is charged for overdue property taxes?

The New Hampshire Legislature determined, in RSA 76:13, that the interest rate for late taxes would be 12%. However, once a tax lien had been placed on the property, the interest rate changes to 18%, see RSA 80:69.

I want to buy property tax liens in New Hampshire. How can I do that?

Currently, there are no New Hampshire communities which have elected to conduct tax sales or transfer tax liens within the 2-year redemption period.

For Timber Tax purposes, what is taxable?

Timber on all landownership is taxable at 10% of the stumpage value at the time of cutting. The only exceptions are shade and ornamental trees, sugar orchards, nursery stock, Christmas trees, firewood for the manufacture of maple syrup and 20 cords of firewood for domestic heating and/or 10 thousand board feet of saw logs for personal use by the landowner within the state. You do not have to wait for the paperwork from the state before work can begin as long as the town has signed the Intent to Cut form. Even if you do not end up cutting anything, you still need to file a Report of Cut.

If we are excavating on our own property and not selling our gravel commercially, are we subject to paying the gravel tax?

Incidental excavations as described under RSA 155-E:2-a, I, (a) & (b) which do not remove more than 1000 cubic yards of earth from the site are exempt from the excavation tax and filing the Notice of Intent to Excavate. Excavation that removes more than 1000 cubic yards is taxable whether it is sold or given away.


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What is the Debt Limit for my town/village/district or precinct?

This is located in our Equalization Survey Booklet. You can also find the current ratio for your town/city there.

Can you help me address my concerns with my Selectmen?

No. The Municipal and Property Division cannot address your concerns with your local Selectmen.


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