2013 MT Legislature

Feb 23, 2013 1:03 AM by Marnee Banks (Helena)

Montana Legislature takes up property tax debate

HELENA - Lawmakers are grappling with two different property tax proposals, both of which put money back into the hands of Montana taxpayers.

Governor Steve Bullock (D) campaigned on the issue of property tax relief and now his office is asking the House Taxation committee to endorse his proposal.

The bill would use $100 million of the state's surplus to give every homeowner in Montana a one-time $400 check.

Ali Bovingdon, the governor's deputy chief of staff, said, "It would put $400 into the wallet of every Montanan who owns their own home, creating $100 million of economic activity on main streets across Montana and in all of your communities."

Republicans call it a one-time gimmick.

MT State Representative Scott Reichner (R-Big Fork) said, "The citizens of Montana have been down this road already. And as you travel around this state you realize they didn't want a one-time gimmick. They want permanent property tax relief."

Reichner says he has a plan which gives all property owners long-lasting tax breaks.

However, the governor's office says under Reichner's bill it will take 10 years for most homeowners to collect the $400 they would get under Bullock's plan; they also say it treats taxpayers unfairly.

Bovingdon said, "The primary beneficiaries under House Bill 230 are large out-of-state corporations. The handout that I provided shows who the top beneficiaries of the proposal are. NorthWestern Energy would receive $3.2 million. PPL Montana would receive just over $1 million, and BNSF Railroad would receive just over $1 million."

Reichner says the tax relief that big corporations will get will trickle down into Montana's economy: "Permanent long-lasting tax relief for all Montana property owners, that's what this bill does."

So now the House Taxation committee will decide which property tax policy statement they want to make.

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