FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2023
Brandon DeMars, email@example.com
Nick Lockridge, firstname.lastname@example.org
Middle Fork Launches Property Tax Calculator: TaxShiftMT.com
Website will help Montana homeowners better understand the recent property tax shift and provide information on where new property taxes will go
(Helena, Mont.) – Today Middle Fork Strategies announced the launch of TaxShiftMT.com, a tool homeowners can use to better understand the recent shift in property taxes that has taken place in Montana. Using public data from the Montana Department of Revenue, TaxShiftMT.com gives Montanans greater insight into where increases in their property taxes will go.
Following the failure of Governor Greg Gianforte and the majority in the Montana Legislature to take action on permanent property tax relief when first notified of the approaching increase, homeowners across Montana received notices of an expected rise in their 2023 property tax bills. Analysis has shown that very little of the new taxes will stay in local communities, with most new revenue going instead to the state and offsetting decreases in property tax for corporate and industrial payers.
“The tax shift Montana homeowners are seeing now is the result of irresponsible policy-making in the 2023 legislative session and years of shifting the burden onto working families,” said Brandon DeMars, Executive Director of Middle Fork. “Large corporations benefit from our strong communities and local economies, but they aren’t paying their fair share and now Montana families are left with the bill.”
The tax calculator was created with input from experts on Montana tax policy and uses recent reappraisal and estimated countywide average mill levy data from the Montana Department of Revenue.
“This tax shift is unprecedented and the public has a right to know how they’re being affected and where their money is going,” said former Director of the Montana Department of Revenue Dan Bucks, who contributed to the creation of the calculator. “Unfortunately, the state has not let Montanans know who actually benefits from tax increases they will pay. This calculator–entirely based on publicly available data–fills that gap. It should not require a private effort to let Montanans know where their money goes. Hopefully, the state will provide this type of calculator in the future.”
In addition to ignoring the warning signs of the expected property tax shift, the majority in the Legislature also rejected proposals to provide ongoing, long-term tax relief to homeowners as well as renters, whose housing costs are affected by property taxes.
“Montana’s seniors and others on fixed incomes are looking at these bills and the shifting tax burden, and wondering how they can continue to live in the places they helped build into strong communities in the first place,” said Jon Ellingson, former Montana State Senator and Senate Majority Leader from Missoula. “The costs of housing and senior care are rising across the state and Montanans are feeling those effects. Our elected leaders had a chance to pass long-term solutions to the tax shift but they chose not to.”
Visitors to TaxShiftMT.com can input their county of residence and two values found either in the Property Classification and Appraisal notice mailed to homeowners by the State Department of Revenue this summer, or on the DOR’s website. The calculator will produce several results, including the estimated amount of property tax change, how much of that change goes to state and local government, and the share of their taxes that will go to offset cuts for other payers.
“Using this calculator, Montana homeowners can see clearly their share of the property tax shift, and how much of their taxes benefit large corporations rather than their local community thanks to the Legislature’s decisions,” said former State Representative and House Taxation Committee member Mike Jopek. “The Department of Revenue’s numbers show that local governments are receiving only a small portion, and corporations win at Montanans’ expense.”
Middle Fork Strategies is a multi-issue advocacy and research organization based in Montana. Middle Fork’s goals are to hold accountable those in power and work with like-minded advocacy groups on policies and issues that impact Montana.