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Is a new GOP tax underfoot?

by By Rep. Mary Caferro
| October 20, 2023 7:00 AM

Is a new GOP tax underfoot?

The Montana Republicans claim that they support lower taxes and they do – selectively. They support lower taxes on millionaires and big corporations.

Not you.

The evidence from the 2023 legislative session is unambiguous. When property values shoot up, like they did this year, it will be homeowners

and small businesses, not big corporations, that pay.

“Property taxes” include several different kinds of property, from the homes where everyday Montanans live to the buildings that house big box stores to electric utilities’ transmission lines to railroads and data centers. The legislature sets a different tax rate for each of these different kinds of property.

During the 2023 session, Republicans lowered property taxes for big corporations while raising it for homeowners and small businesses. The GOP supermajority and Governor could have done something to help ordinary Montanans but they instead served the interests of whiskey and steak slinging lobbyists, not you.

The Republicans’ selectivity when it comes to lower taxes is also evident in the income tax break they gave to the state’s wealthiest. Millionaires like Greg Gianforte pay the same tax rate as a firefighter or a pipefitter or a teacher or any other Montanan who works every day for their living.

The policies the GOP forwarded and passed this last legislative session made this bad situation even worse by giving thousands of dollars more in income tax breaks (handouts) to the wealthiest, while the rest of us, working people and retirees, got scraps. This special treatment for the most well-off will cost the state more than $170 million a year, making tough situations worse, situations like the challenges rural communities are facing trying to keep their few locally-owned nursing homes open.

You may think that at least the session ended and the damage has stopped for now.

But no.

The Republicans haven’t stopped. When it comes to tax policy, the crushing of the average citizen hasn’t let up. The Republicans are using the quiet time between legislative sessions to put in place the infrastructure to slide in yet another tax burden that has disproportionate impact on working folks and people on fixed incomes – a NEW STATEWIDE SALES TAX.

Out-of-state millionaires with their vacation mansions won’t pay that tax for the 50 weeks out of the year they don’t live here. But you and I, we’ll pay. We’ll pay over and over and over.

The massive tax shift from the wealthy and corporations to regular Montanans is not alleviated by a one-time rebate check for Montana homeowners who make it through the hoops they need to jump through to get it.

It’s a game of sleight of hand, throwing a 10-foot rope to people in a 50-foot hole even while they dig the hole even deeper. Its purpose is to make the indefensible seem magnanimous, an illusion whose purpose is to serve themselves, not you.

Rep. Mary Caferro

Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Committee

Mother, grandmother and longtime legislator

Helena, Montana