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HomePoliticsMontana PoliticsGovernor Gianforte Launches Property Tax Task Force

Governor Gianforte Launches Property Tax Task Force

Governor charges task force with providing recommendations to reform the property tax system and reduce the burden on property taxpayers

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte today launched a property tax task force to provide recommendations to reform the property tax system and reduce the burden on property taxpayers.

“Property taxes are too high. Our $1,350 property tax rebate helped Montana homeowners last year and will help them again this year,” Gov. Gianforte said. “We, however, need thoughtful, deliberate, long-term reforms to keep property taxes as low as possible, because the increasing strain of rising property taxes shouldn’t force Montana homeowners to consider selling the home they’ve owned and lived in for decades.”

“We must protect Montana homeowners from rising property taxes, and I look forward to the work of the Property Tax Task Force to reform our property tax system and arrest the rate of growth of property taxes,” Gov. Gianforte said.

The governor created the task force through an executive order, and charged the task force with providing recommendations the legislature could consider and the governor could sign into law to reform the property tax system and restrain property tax growth.

Gov. Gianforte appointed Ryan Osmundson, director of the Office of Budget and Program Planning, to chair the task force.

“Montanans are rightly concerned with property taxes, which are growing well above the rate of inflation and are increasingly unaffordable for so many homeowners,” Dir. Osmundson said. “We’ll put our nose to the grindstone and leave no stone unturned to identify meaningful reforms to our property tax system.”

State agency leaders, legislators, local officials, association representatives, economists, researchers, and stakeholders make up the task force. Members include:

Ryan Osmundson, task force chair and director of the Office of Budget and Program Planning

Sen. Greg Hertz (R-Polson), chair of Senate Taxation Committee, member of Joint Education Committee

Sen. Tom McGillvray (R-Billings), member of Senate Finance & Claims Committee, member of Appropriations and Finance & Claims Committee

Sen. Shane Morigeau (D-Missoula), member of Senate Finance & Claims Committee, Joint Education Committee

Rep. David Bedey (R-Hamilton), chair of Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, member of Joint Education Committee

Rep. Dave Fern (D-Whitefish), member of House Taxation Committee

Rep. Llew Jones (R-Conrad), chair of House Appropriations Committee, chair of Joint Appropriations and Finance & Claims Committee

Brendan Beatty, director of the Montana Department of Revenue

Manish Bhatt, senior policy analyst with the Center for State Tax Policy at the Tax Foundation

Kendall Cotton, president and CEO of the Frontier Institute

Errol Galt, commissioner of Meagher County

Pam Holmquist, commissioner of Flathead County

Jeremy Horpedahl, Ph.D., associate professor of economics and director of Arkansas Center for Research in Economics at the University of Central Arkansas

Dwaine Iverson, board member of the Montana Taxpayers Association and CPA

Cyndi Johnson, president of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation

Sean Logan, commissioner of City of Helena

Lance Melton, executive director of the Montana School Boards Association

Gordon Oelkers, commissioner of Roosevelt County

Todd O’Hair, president and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce

Justin Ross, Ph.D., professor of economics and public finance, Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University; co-editor-in-chief of Public Budgeting & Finance

Derek “DJ” Smith, president of the Montana Association of Realtors

Sandra Vasecka, council member of the City of Missoula

Ronda Wiggers, Montana State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business

“I’m grateful to each member of the property tax task force for volunteering to dig deep and deliver solutions to reform our property tax system. They’ll each bring a unique perspective to the table, and I look forward to what they’ll accomplish together,” Gov. Gianforte said.

The task force will hold its first meeting in February and will produce a written report with recommendations and strategies by August 15, 2024.

While the task force may recommend any strategy to reform of the property tax system, the governor expressly asked the task force to provide recommendations that

  • arrest the rate of growth of property taxes, including assessments and fees, as well as alleviate the impact of drastic increases of property reappraisals;
  • increase transparency of property tax bills, make them easier to understand for property taxpayers, and improve customer service in the payment schedules for property taxpayers;
  • increase transparency of and public engagement in public budgeting;
  • increase public participation for mill levy ballot measures;
  • ensure property taxes paid by Montana resident homeowners and on Montana long-term rentals reflect well on supporting homeownership and workforce housing;
  • ensure each Montana child has access to a quality education; and
  • ensure lower-income Montana homeowners, Montana homeowners who are on a fixed income, and disabled Montana veterans or their surviving spouse are not at risk of losing their home because of property taxes.

Property taxes, which are largely a function of local jurisdictions, fund local government services, with approximately 85% of property tax revenue from residential homeowners going directly to local jurisdictions and the remaining 15% going to the State of Montana which returns the amount in full to help fund K-12 public schools throughout the State.

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division, between 2001 and 2022, inflation grew at an average annual rate of 2.42%, while between tax years 2001 and 2022, the annual average county property tax growth rate was 6.19%, city property tax growth rate was 6.13%, local schools property tax growth rate was 4.40%, countywide schools property tax was 3.60%, according to Legislative Fiscal Division.

To reduce the burden of property taxes for Montanans, last spring, the governor delivered Montanans $120 million in permanent, long-term property tax relief and secured up to $1,350 in property tax rebates for Montana homeowners over 2023 and 2024. Taken together, the measures provide the average Montana homeowner with relief that more than offsets his or her property tax increase.

The governor also boosted property tax relief for Montanans with low or fixed incomes, as well as disabled veterans or their unmarried surviving spouses. To further reduce the burden of property taxes, the governor reformed the property tax system to allow homeowners to pay their property taxes in seven equal payments throughout the year, rather than in November and May.

The governor’s executive order to create the Property Tax Task Force may be viewed here.

Press release provided by the Governor’s office

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