Property Tax Relief

By Beacon Staff
By John Fuller

The Montana State Legislature seems to be bipartisan in its consensus that Montanans need property tax relief.

The Republicans want to reduce property tax mill levies, exempt the first $250,000 worth of business equipment from property taxation or both. Democrats are united under Gov. Steve Bullock’s plan to give a one-time $400 property tax rebate to homeowners. So which proposal is real relief?

To anyone other than intransigent liberals, the answer is obvious. Democrats are not interested in property tax relief.

Democrats are never interested in lowering taxes or allowing hard-working citizens to keep the money they labor so hard to accumulate. Democrats are only interested in reallocating (Can you say “increase taxes?”) to achieve their ideas of “fairness” and thus intensify the government-dependency of their constituents.

Democrats have no intention of allowing Republicans to reduce property tax rates that would reduce government income for the Democrats’ welfare programs.

The $400 tax rebate is nothing more than a bribe. It is insulting that Democrats would offer such a hors d’oeuvre.

If they were serious about property-tax relief, they would propose reducing rates, mill levies and increasing business equipment exemptions.

This debate is just another example of Democrats promising Montanans the moon, but “mooning” us instead.

By Joe Carbonari

Largely because the revenue projections made during the 2011 legislative session underestimated, as some predicted, what actually came in, we had a rather large budget surplus when entering the current session.

Understandably, it has been proposed that a significant portion of that surplus be returned to the tax-paying public.

The property tax rolls seem to be the vehicle of choice for this redistribution, although the surplus was engendered by all taxpayers, not just directly paying property taxpayers, but I digress.

Chuck Hunter, a Helena Democrat, is sponsoring Gov. Steve Bullock’s proposed $400 one-time rebate to Montana homeowners (HB361 cost is $100 million).

Republican Rep. Scott Reichner of Bigfork has proposed a permanent property tax cut for both business and homeowners (HB230 cost is about $50 million a year with no end).

Some business would make out very well and homeowners would see an average of $44 per year. This leaves me a bit uncomfortable.

As a stimulus to our economy I’d rather see the $400 going to homeowners and then spent into the economy, now, when it’s sorely needed.

The tax break for businesses and homeowners, spread out into the future, is less targeted, and its impact far less discernible.

It strikes me as less intended for stimulative effect than as an ideologically pleasing ploy. I’d rather see a check in the mail.

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