Property Tax Fix, Sales Tax Plot

Convene a one-day special session of the Legislature to reduce the state residential property tax rate from 1.35 to 0.94 percent

By Mary Ann Dunwell

There’s a simple fix to head off the gloom and doom of our recent high home appraisals and impending residential property tax hikes – or at least to lessen the blow. And what a blow it’ll be to Montanans being priced out of their homes while juggling rising costs for energy, food, medicine, and more. Older Montanans and others on a fixed income will be especially hurt. 

The solution from Democrats like me that you’ve probably read about by now is a one-day special session of the Legislature to reduce the state residential property tax rate from 1.35 to 0.94 percent. That’s the rate set by the Legislature to figure out the taxable value of your property. From time to time back to the 1980’s, Legislatures have dropped the rate to mitigate tax increases when it looked like home appraisals were coming in high.

The state Department of Revenue warned the Legislature in November 2022 that home values would soar. We could’ve lowered the tax rate during our regular legislative session, but the Republican majority ignored the warning and did nothing to drop the tax rate – a radical departure from what legislatures have done in a bipartisan way in the past. 

Instead, Republicans showered corporations with tax benefits and raised your taxes, shifting the property tax liability from corporations to you. Now, they blame local governments and stir the pot of property tax revolt to get you so riled up that you’ll vote for a statewide general sales tax. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see a sales tax plot and strategy of tax unfairness to put the tax burden on folks like you who can’t afford it. 

Finally, don’t buy the gimmick and PR of upcoming tax rebates. They’re a short-term distraction in sheep’s clothing. We don’t need a state sales tax, we just need this simple legislative fix to reduce Montana’s residential property tax rate. Together, we can head off a property tax crisis and avoid a state sales tax. Let’s get to the business of tax fairness. Many Montanans will suffer if we don’t.

Sen. Mary Ann Dunwell

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