We recently received a copy of an email from a member of the NH Tax Collectors’ Association regarding a court case that brought into question the required information that needs to be included on the tax bills per RSA 76:11-a. Specifically, the size of the font and where on the bill the wording needs to be displayed.
To summarize the email, a judge has determined that the information on the tax bills regarding the types of tax relief must be “prominent and legible” per RSA 76:11-a. The email also states that the Department of Revenue (DRA) said this information should be on the front of the tax bill. So there are basically two issues, the size of the font and the placement of the wording on the tax bills.
Note, if you print your tax bills using an outside printing company you will need to contact them directly to discuss what may, or may not, need to change.
If you order your tax bills directly from Avitar, the required wording is preprinted on the back of the forms. This past year we updated that information by increasing the font size and made the font bold. We also recommended adding a custom message which told the tax payer to see the back of the bill for important tax information. Is this sufficient to address the concerns of the court? Maybe…maybe not.
Until we have a clearer definition from either the court, DRA, and/or the Tax Collectors’ Association, we can only provide you with a recommendation on how to proceed for this billing cycle. Once we hear the final decision, we will act accordingly and let you know of any changes.
Our recommendation for this billing depends on the type of bill format you are utilizing:
- Traditional tax bill format-This tax bill format is divided into three distinct thirds with each third containing essentially the same information. The bottom third is removed and retained at the town office before mailing the other two thirds to the taxpayer. The taxpayer will then keep the middle portion for his or her records and return the top portion with the payment. There is limited space for custom messages using this bill format, so your options are limited as well. The best option is to switch to the alternate bill format. The alternate bill format does not repeat information, freeing up space on the tax bill to allow for a larger custom message.
If however, you want to keep the traditional tax bill format, we recommend adding a custom message to the bill stating “PLEASE SEE BACK OF BILL FOR IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION” or by including an insert with the tax bill that has the required information.
- Alternate tax bill format-This tax bill format is designed so the entire page is sent to the taxpayer and they return the bottom third with the payment. By doing it this way, it simplifies the bill by eliminating much of the duplication of information, allowing for more space for a custom message. With the alternate tax bill format we recommend adding the following message in a font greater than a 10 point (12 point will fit): “Per RSA 76:11-a If you are elderly, disabled, blind, a veteran, or veteran’s spouse, or are unable to pay taxes due to poverty or other good cause, you may be eligible for a tax exemption, credit, abatement, or deferral. For details and application information, contact the Assessor’s or Selectmen’s office.” Although this duplicates the information already on the back of the tax bill, it should satisfy the requirements suggested in the email.
As soon as we hear the final recommendation, we will pass the information along to you. Until then, if you need help creating the custom messages or changing tax bill styles, please feel free to give us a call.