Feb 27, 2013 4:04 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - The Montana House of Representatives passed two tax relief measures on Wednesday.
The first bill, sponsored by Rep. Scott Reichner (R-Bigfork) would reduce taxes on every property owner in Montana; it passed in a party line vote. The bill has a price tag of about $50 million per year.
Officials with the governor's office say the measure would offer the average homeowner $44 in tax relief annually.
"Homeowners across the state have also been paying more than their fair share. Their burden is heavy. Businesses, also, some of them are barely able to keep the doors open in this tough economy," Reichner said.
Democrats and the governor's office say the bill isn't fair because companies such as NorthWestern Energy would receive more than $3 million in tax breaks, while homeowners receive very little.
They also say while the state may have the money during the current budget cycle to offer the tax relief, the state may not have it in the future.
"Making policy on one rise over the long-term is irresponsible, and we cannot be irresponsible. We cannot jeopardize our ongoing funding. This is not targeted property tax relief. This is taking a machete to our property tax system," Rep. J.P. Pomnichowski (D Bozeman) said..
The House also overwhelmingly supported a measure which reduces the business equipment tax in a 96-4 vote.Right now businesses with $20,000 or less in business equipment do not have to pay taxes on it.
The bill increases the exemption to $250,000.