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A septic system tax break?

Property taxes don't have to he paid on septic systems, the state Supreme Court has ruled--a decision that could cut hundreds of dollars from the tax bills of more than three-quarters of the homes in the state.

However, a bill pending before the Legislature would slam that loophole shut.

The court overturned an earlier decision by the state Department of Environmental Services and ruled in favor of a Rindge couple who claimed a tax break for the septic system of their home on the shores of Lake Monomonac.

David DuVernay, Rindge code enforcement officer and assessing clerk, had filed to claim the two septic systems on his property as pollution control devices.

He made his claim after a similar issue arose in Rindge regarding a sewage treatment facility at Franklin Pierce University, he said.

The town had always taxed the treatment plant, but when the town at some point hiked its assessment, Franklin Pierce sought advice from the Department of Environmental Services and claimed the plant was exempt from taxation under the law.

The town appealed that ruling, but in 2008, the Supreme Court upheld the DES, saying state law exempted the plant from property taxes as a pollution control device.

'I looked at that and said, 'Well, if Franklin Pierce is exempt, then why aren't I exempt?'" DuVernay said. "I figured if they could, I could."

DuVernay, a lawyer licensed to practice in Ohio, handled the case himself.

The ruling means that every home and business with a septic system could apply to have the assessed value of their property reduced accordingly.

However, House Bill 1439, pending in the Senate, changes state law so that sewage disposal systems will no longer be tax exempt unless they received an exemption before Jan. 1, 2010.

The Department of Environmental Services says about 85 percent of all houses in New Hampshire are on septic systems rather than being connected to urban wastewater treatment systems.
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Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U1NH
Date:Apr 23, 2010
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