State lawmakers met last week for interim committee hearings, during which a local legislator presented his proposed bill to lower a resident’s taxes if they can prove depreciated property value since last year’s reappraisal.
Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, presented the bill.
“If your market value went down by more than 5 percent, you’d be able to go and request a new valuation and that would become your taxable value for the rest of the six year phase in,” Tutvedt said in an interview after the hearings.
While the exact numbers are still subject to change, Tutvedt said he envisioned the legislation having reduction thresholds in multiples of five. For example, if a resident can prove their market value has dropped by 20 percent, their taxes would go down 20 percent, he said.
If the property value decreased by 11 percent, the taxes would go down by 10 percent, he said. Similarly, if the value went down 7 percent, there would be a 5 percent tax reduction.
Tutvedt said he has received support from several Flathead Valley property owners, and not just those with waterfront property.
“There was a decline in most properties in Flathead County,” Tutvedt said.
Among other solutions suggested during the hearings was the idea of basing property value on what the owner paid for it, or acquisition-based value.
Tutvedt said he was not on board with this idea because it would not provide equity for all property owners in an area and it would mean raising some people’s taxes to pay for a reduction in others’.
However, Tutvedt’s proposed legislation would have a similar effect, he said, with possible financial losses for the state.
“There would be some cost shift, yes,” Tutvedt said. “I believe that the public understands and accepts that if you have a value that is significantly less, you shouldn’t pay more for it.”
The state is constitutionally required to reappraise all property values every six years. The 2009 reappraisal brought significant increases for many property owners in Flathead and Lake counties, prompting frustration from residents.
Several local lawmakers held “town hall” meetings to discuss possible solutions for reappraisal problems, which included Constitutional amendments, legislation and lawsuits. Multiple residents did eventually file suit against the state.
Many people filed for a reassessment or paid taxes under protest. Currently, there is $2.7 million worth of protested taxes in Flathead County and a 6.9 percent delinquency rate, according to a recent report from the county treasurer to the county commission.