By Doug Ireland
---- — LONDONDERRY — In 1978, Lawrence Thibodeau started his own business with nothing more than a used pickup truck and an old box of tools.
Thirty-four years later, the owner of Hampshire Fire Protection Co. on North Wentworth Avenue has 110 employees and a steadily growing business. But, like most other companies in recent years, Hampshire Fire has seen tough times.
That’s why Thibodeau met with Congressman Frank Guinta, R-N.H., July 27 to talk about how Congress needs to extend a series of tax cuts to avoid large cost increases for small-business owners. Those increases would affect taxpayers, too.
Guinta was one of many Republican members of Congress to host Stop the Tax Hike publicity campaigns around the country yesterday to outline the impact of the potential tax increases.
The tax cuts, enacted under former President George W. Bush and extended by President Barack Obama, will expire Jan. 1 if Congress does not extend them again.
Thibodeau is concerned about the potential impact on his business and others. Hampshire Fire manufactures, sells and installs fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems throughout New England.
“People don’t know what’s going to happen,” Thibodeau said. “They don’t know what to invest in.”
Thibodeau said paying an additional 3 to 5 percent in business taxes would be devastating to small firms such as his. That’s money he said he could be using to invest in his business. Thibodeau said he’s also worried about the higher income taxes his employees would have to pay.
Without the extensions, taxes for businesses and individuals would rise at least several percentage points. New Hampshire residents would have to pay an average of $3,600 more in federal income taxes, Guinta said.
“That’s $2.6 billion out of the New Hampshire economy going straight to Washington,” Guinta said. “When the government says they have to take more money from you, then the government isn’t doing its job.”
Lawmakers are considering various bills in Washington. There’s disagreement over whether all or just some of the cuts should be extended, Guinta said.
The House has agreed to extend all the cuts, Guinta said. The Senate voted Wednesday to extend tax cuts for all but the highest-earning Americans.
After touring the Londonderry company, Guinta told employees the issue extends beyond party lines. He said it’s critical that they vote to elect the best possible leaders. New Hampshire’s three other members of Congress also support extending the tax cuts.
“With 41 straight months of over 8 percent national unemployment, the last thing our economy needs is a job-killing tax hike,” U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., voted for the tax cuts and urged the House to do the same, according to Shaheen spokeswoman Faryl Uryl.
Raising taxes on working families and small families must be avoided, said Stephanie DuBois, spokeswoman for Congressman Charles Bass, R-N.H.