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Eight hotel companies, whose business had been heavily affected by Covid-related closures and further restrictive measures, filed suit against their respective municipalities claiming that they should have been exempted from paying taxes during the pandemic.

They referred to a statute under which “whenever a taxable building is damaged due to unintended fire or natural disaster to the extent that it renders the building not able to be used for its intended use, the assessing officials shall prorate the assessment for the building for the current tax year” in light of a tax reduction. They contended that the Covid-19 pandemic was a “natural disaster” and that their buildings were “damaged” within the meaning of the statute because they were not able to be used for their intended use.

By judgment of 18 April 2023, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire dismissed plaintiffs’ claims. The Court held that the “plaintiffs’ purely economic loss cannot be read to be within the terms of RSA 76:21 as the type of damage for which the statute was intended to provide relief”. Indeed, in the Court’s view the overall statutory scheme supported a requirement of physical damage to a building itself, something which plaintiffs had not even alleged.

Full text of the decision available at en