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New Tax Laws Should Benefit Montana Residents

The state’s surplus appears like it will result in more money in some taxpayers’ pockets and additional funds in needed programs throughout Montana.

Roosevelt County Commissioner Gordon Oelkers said the goal should be to invest funds in areas that will be around for 30 years plus provide some tax relief.

Oelkers noted departments such as mental health and the prison systems are in need of additional funds from the state.

As far as tax relief, House Bill 192 passed its third reading in the Senate last week. The bill will provide a one-time tax rebate of $2,500 to couples or $1,250 to single taxpayers.

House Bill 222 will provide property tax rebates of $500 in each of the next two years, for a total of $1,000 per household in property tax relief.

Oelkers explains that the state relies on incomes tax while counties count on property taxes for funding. “Everybody is pretty maxed out with property taxes,” Oelkers said.

Other tax saving measures include; House Bill 212 raises the exemption on the state’s business equipment tax from $300,000 to $1 million. Senate Bill 121 saves residents by lowering the state’s income tax rate that most Montanans pay from 6.5 percent to 5.9 percent. House Bill 221 simplifies capital gains taxes. Senate Bill 124 simplifies corporate taxes.

One proposal that Oelkers is keeping track of is Senate Bill 442. The bill would transfer tax revenue from marijuana sales to the Department of Transportation for the funding of county road construction and maintenance.

Oelkers noted Roosevelt County spends $400,000 on gravel purchases and could use the additional funding to maintain the county’s roads.

Montana’s legislators have been debating how best to spend an estimated $2.5 billion budget surplus this session.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte stressed providing tax relief to property owners as quickly as possible during a press conference held in January.

“Hard-working Montanans deserve relief and deserve it without delay,” Gianforte said during a press conference with Montana reporters on Jan. 19.

Supporters of the tax relief bills have included the Montana Chamber of Commerce, Montana Association of Counties, the League of Cities and Towns, the Montana Taxpayers Association and the North Central Montana Economic Development.

“This is a priority for Montanans and they are expecting us to get it done,” Gianforte said.

Last week, the governor said in a press release, “Thanks to the hard work of our office, including the budget office, and legislators, we now have a historic tax relief package — providing Montanans with the largest tax cut in state history — within the first half of the session. I look forward to signing these bills to send taxpayer money back to hardworking Montana taxpayers.”

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