Being a tax "fighter" is, of course, good politics. Nobody wants to raise taxes.

But when legislators are tax "fighters"  they are talking about state taxes. 

What they never point out is that whatever tax cuts they make at the state level means less state services and less shared revenue with towns and schools.

That results in consumers or local property tax payers - you -  having to do without or make up the difference.

Although our logo shows only business taxes on the seesaw, cutting revenue of any sort has to be made up for with cuts in services and/or cutting revenue sharing. 

Faces of tax shifting

Shifting services - indirect downshifting

Service shortages may mean poorer response times from police or emergency personnel, for example, because tax "fighters" have reduced the number of (state) police or Fish and Game officers. 

Tax "fighters" reducing funding and training for workers or facilities may result in mentally ill people being warehoused in prison. Or kept sedated in an emergency room while waiting for a space in a treatment facility. Such solutions are inhumane and ineffective at treatment; not to mention that while they reduce the state budget, they get paid for by consumers as hospitals must recoup costs.

These sorts of cuts mean that local resources have to take up the slack, whether volunteer ( such as the Androscoggin Valley Search & Rescue team ), or stretching local paid resources ( such as police ).

Shifting in time

A time-honored method of tax "fighters" is deferring costs. The classic "kick the can down the road" strategy. It makes the current legislator look good ... but ultimately costs more. Our current problems with the number of bridges is the most obvious case in point. Kicking the can down the road to avoid maintenance costs has resulted in the need for some very expensive repairs.

Not recognizing pollution early on because too few regulators are available can easily result in a widespread contamination that requires very expensive remediation - consider the major cancer cluster identified on the seacoast as a result of pollution.

Reduced revenue sharing - direct downshifting

Every town and school budget includes an estimate of revenues from state and federal sources.  While the amounts vary from one district to the next because of need, they can be substantial even for affluent towns.  

The legislature has in the past committed to sharing costs, largely because that was the politically convenient way of establishing taxes needed at the state level. However, it has also been politically attractive to cut those taxes ( loudly and with much crowing ) and quietly cut the amount shared with towns & schools. The NH Municipal Association has an interesting document with some example history & data ( ).

Sometimes the cuts are outright - as the moratorium on school building aid. Once upon a time, if a district needed to build facilities, the state would contribute a sizable share. Tax shifters established a moratorium on that aid - if a district needs new facilities, the funds must come from local property tax payers. Here is an article on the impact of the moratorium:

More often, the cuts are more gradual. Tax shifters cut a few percent during one legislative session, a few more in the next, etc.  This is the "boiling frog" approach.  For example, the state originally paid 35% of teacher/fire/police retirement. That was shifted down to local taxpayers by "tax fighters"  reducing the state portion to 30%, then 25%, then finally eliminating it completely - the local taxpayer must now pay the entire coast.

Sometimes tax shifters cut revenue in a less obvious way - for example, stabilization  grants to property poor towns were supposed to help make up the difference in their school funding from wealthier towns. This has been set - with only one legislative vote - to gradually decrease. This kind of tax shift is easy to miss because it isn't voted on every year.  2017 data shows, for example, Raymond losing $70,000 dollars of state revenue.  This is revenue that is shifted from the state raising it ( through business taxes and other sources) to the shoulders of the local property owner. It adds up. In Senate District 17 ( John Reagan) for example, this unheralded yearly loss of revenue shifted $482,000 from the state to the local property taxpayer.  Senate District 16 ( Kevin Cavanaugh ) saw about $125,000 in stabilization grant money shifted to the local property taxpayers.