Governor Sununu’s Emergency Order 25 authorizes municipalities to “grant blanket abatements of the interest charged on all property taxes not paid after their assessment for the duration of the State of Emergency….” This power already exists under RSA 76:16 and RSA 29:12, although the emergency order simplifies the process for the county portion of taxes.
•A municipality must adopt this reprieve, and RSA 76:16 requires a showing of “good cause,” which shouldn’t be difficult.
•The power is not limited just to interest accruing during the state of emergency. In addition, municipalities may grant an abatement for “all property taxes not paid” (emphasis added).
•In fact, the order appears to be an “all or nothing” proposition. Municipalities may not pick and choose tax years. Taking advantage of this order would suspend payment of all interest for all unpaid taxes, no matter how long they have been unpaid.
•The order is less clear as to whether interest continues to accrue.
•While the order also relieves taxpayers from filing individual abatement applications for this relief, taxpayers still may do so under RSA 76:16 if their municipality fails to take advantage of this order.
•Finally, foreclosures relating to unpaid property taxes are suspended for the duration of the State of Emergency.
Paul J. Alfano