Property Taxes in Montana
Get “in-the-know” to help your constituents…
With inaccurate property appraisal notices having been recently distributed, we expect you’ll be receiving a slew of questions from your constituents. The resources in this post will help you help your citizens understand the facts about how property taxes really work in Montana.
The Department of Revenue (DOR) recently dispersed property appraisal notices that are unfortunately inaccurate due to the increased tax estimate included in the notice. (Please note that MACo is rendering no opinion on the accuracy of the actual appraisal amounts.)
The estimate is based on last year’s actual number of mills assessed, which will not remain the same and thereby renders the estimate inaccurate. Montana statute (MCA 15-10-420) limits a county’s ability to levy additional mills, and as taxable values rise–absent voted mills–the number of mills a county may levy most likely will have to decrease. That was not taken into account in the mailed estimates, and that specifically is what we are calling out as inaccurate information.
DOR is required by statute to include the total amount of mills levied against the property in the prior year in the notice provided. Past practice has been to also include a calculated increase of taxes using last year’s mills and the new appraised value, but it is not required, nor is it accurate. Given the substantial increase in residential property values statewide, the inherent inaccuracy of using last year’s mills has exacerbated the problem. We will engage with the Department to find a solution for future notices balancing the required notice provisions with transparency and accuracy for the taxpayers of Montana.
DOR has planned a series of public meetings, July 6 thru 26, to explain how they determined the new values. We encourage you to take this as a great opportunity to inform your citizens and help them understand the facts about how local government property taxes really work including how local governments are not allowed to keep up with inflation. And be sure they know real story about what property tax increases will look like this year in your communities!
Resources to Help You Help Your Constituents
The Montana Free Press has published a thorough and informative piece on how property taxes work in Montana. In short, it’s amazing, and we highly encourage you to review it and share it with your community.
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy published a presentation that highlights how Montana’s property tax system works and how it differs from most others across the country.
The department is holding public meetings in cities and towns across the state to help taxpayers understand the property valuation process and how the Department determined the new values on their classification and appraisal notices.
Montana’s Legislative Fiscal Division wrote up an explanation document to help folks further understand the June 2023 Property Valuation Notices.
Questions? We got you…
Montana Association of Counties | email@example.com | (406) 449-4360