Applications for State Property Tax Assistance Programs Due April 15

The annual Tax Day deadline for income tax filings is also the last day Montanans can apply for property tax relief programs available to lower-income residents

By Eric Dietrich, Montana Free Press
The Montana State Capitol in Helena. Beacon file photo

Low-income Montanans seeking help paying their property tax bills have until Tax Day this coming Monday, April 15, to apply for aid through two state relief programs administered by the Montana Department of Revenue — including the flagship Property Tax Assistance Program intended to keep property tax bills from forcing low-income homeowners out of their homes.

The Property Tax Assistance Program offers aid to resident homeowners who meet income requirements and, as of this year, offers a tax break on the first $350,000 of value for a primary residence.

Additionally, the Montana Disabled Veteran Assistance Program offers relief to disabled veterans and their surviving spouses.

The state Legislature amended both programs last year to adjust the income requirements for inflation. The Property Tax Assistance Program’s value cap was also increased from $200,000 to the new $350,000 threshold to account for the dramatic growth in home values that Montana has experienced in recent years. 

Under the new income thresholds, Montana resident homeowners with incomes of up to $27,621 if they’re single and $37,019 if they’re part of a family can qualify for a 30% reduction on their property taxes on the first $350,000 of their home’s assessed value. Homeowners who meet lower income thresholds can qualify for higher reductions, with their property taxes reduced by as much as 80%.

Disabled veterans and their surviving spouses can qualify for that assistance program at higher income thresholds. Single disabled veterans with incomes up to $45,803 can qualify to have property taxes on their primary residence reduced to zero.

In 2022, about 21,500 taxpayers participated in the low-income property tax assistance program, saving $843 on average, according to the department’s 2022 biennial report. Combined, participants saved about $18 million on their property tax bills. According to the department, about $15 million of that amount was in effect shifted to other taxpayers.

Also in 2022, about 3,000 taxpayers participated in the disabled veterans’ program, saving $1,963 on average.

The state also offers an Elderly Homeowner/Renter income tax credit, generally available to Montana residents 62 years and older with annual household incomes below $45,000. That credit, as much as $1,150, offsets property tax payments through a formula based on a taxpayer’s income, rent payments and property tax bills. It can be obtained through annual income tax filings, which are also due April 15.

According to the revenue department, about 13,000 taxpayers obtained the elderly homeowner/renter tax credit in 2021, costing the state about $7 million.

All three assistance programs are distinct from the two-time $675 property tax rebates that the Legislature has made available to homeowners of all income levels this year and last. The application window for the first round of rebates closed last year and the revenue department says it plans to accept applications for the second round of rebates, which will apply to 2023 tax bills, starting in mid-August.

More information about the programs, including application forms for the property tax aid programs, is available on the Montana Department of Revenue website.

This story originally appeared in the Montana Free Press, which can be found online at montanafreepress.org.