HELENA — Earlier this year, the Montana Legislature dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s budget surplus to fund income and property tax rebates – and at the end of the 68th session, they voted to add even more.
House Bill 816 was one of the last bills under consideration on the Legislature’s final day, May 2, but it got through with some last-minute maneuvers. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Josh Kassmier, R-Fort Benton, puts another $135 million into the tax rebate programs lawmakers already approved.
The original rebates were part of a broader tax reform package that legislative Republicans passed midway through the session and Governor Greg Gianforte signed into law. It put $480 million toward income tax rebates – up to $1,250 for those filing individually and $2,500 for those filing jointly. $280 million will fund property tax rebates of up to $500 each of the next two years on Montana property owners’ primary residences.
HB 816 hasn’t been signed into law yet. It passed the House 69-27 on the last day of the session. Representatives initially rejected the Senate’s amendments to the bill and sent it to a conference committee to put together a final version. However, the Senate adjourned without taking up the conference committee’s amendments, so the only way to keep the bill alive was for the House to reconsider its actions and accept the Senate’s version.
The bill would provide an additional $100 million to fund more property tax rebates – up to $175 more per recipient each of the next two years. It also added $35 million to ensure the full amount of income tax rebates can be delivered, as a fiscal analysis said that program was now expected to cost nearly $494 million.
The Montana Department of Revenue said in March they plan to send income tax rebates automatically to those who qualify, starting in July. They said property tax payers would need to claim that rebate separately, and they would begin offering a platform to do that later this year.
DOR has set up a web page with details on who is eligible for the rebates and how to get ready to receive them. They plan to update it as more information becomes available.