February 9, 2021
The New Hampshire Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling dated February 9, 2021, held that in order to get the tax exemption under NH RSA 72:23-c, an entity has to file its paperwork seeking the exemption in a timely way. The statute states that the filing must be made by April 15 each year. In this case, New London Hospital filed for an exemption for property containing its clinic in Newport, but did so late. The town denied the exemption on property which appears to clearly be exempt (at least to us), based on the late filing. The court upheld the lower court in dismissing the hospital’s appeal.
The full decision is found at: https://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/opinions/2021/2021006NewLondonHospital.pdf
Every not-for-profit executive and attorney will get chills reading this decision, since many, if not all, have had near misses. None should expect that a municipality will give it a second chance if it misses the deadline, since the decision stands for the proposition that the municipality does not have to, and even being in discussions with a municipality over the tax status will not excuse failure to file.
This should be fair warning. Get the filing requirement on the calendar for a month before the form is due, get it in early, and get a receipt for the filing. You will sleep better if you do!
Anyone needing more information or assistance with this area of the law, should contact the not-for-profit attorneys at Sheehan Phinney. We are happy to help.
Bradford Cook and Andrew Eills
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