State sees record number of appeals to property tax appraisals
| September 8, 2023 7:00 AM
The Montana Department Revenue has received the highest number of appeals for property tax appraisals since 2015, before the state went on a two-year reappraisal cycle.
“This year we have around 16,000, almost 17,000 appeals that have been filed in our system,” said Robin Rude, deputy administrator for the property assessment division of the Department of Revenue, earlier this month.
The onslaught of appeals comes as Montana homeowners and renters are projected to see the largest increases in property taxes in the Treasure State ‘s history, according to a recent presentation by former head of the Department of Revenue Dan Bucks.
Appraisals have increased as much as 40%.
Rude said the Department of Revenue is still getting the appeals accounted for. She said some counties are experiencing a higher volume of appeals, and the time to process them will depend on the volume.
“The smaller counties or the counties that didn’t see a large increase of value don’t have as many appeals filed,” Rude said. “Those will be processed quicker.”
Rude said some appeals may not be processed before tax bills come out. In those cases, people should pay their taxes under protest to ensure their rights to a refund in the event of a value reduction.
On average, property owners have filed appeals for roughly 2% or less of parcels in counties across the state, Rude said.
“Ravalli County to date has entered 579 appeals; this is more appeals than they have seen since we switched to the two-year reappraisal cycle,” said Rude. “ Yellowstone to date has 1,554, and they have processed 35% of those appeals so far. While this is more than they received in 2021, it is just slightly above the appeal levels of 2017 and 2019, and less than 2015.
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte and some GOP legislators have said they provided property tax relief to help.
However, some Montana community members have taken to the social media app X, formerly Twitter, to speak about the difficulty of filling out the applications.
“I am cynical enough to believe that the ridiculously complicated application for MT property tax relief was created by bean counters in Helena in hopes that a certain percentage of people would just give up, saving the state money,” said X user @wormdwb, Mike Kinsella, in a recent post.
In his recent presentation about taxes, Bucks noted previous governors and legislatures adjusted the tax rate to help homeowners and renters, but state leaders this year did not do so.
Pam Moor, an area manager for the Department of Revenue, said 2,600 properties have been appealed in Gallatin County. However, she said some people have requested additional time, so she anticipates more appeals still will be filed. She also said timelines for processing them will differ.
“In a normal reappraisal year, when we receive about half as many appeals, we are usually finished with the informal reviews by the end of the year,” Moor said.
Before 2015, the frequency of appraisals was every six years, and in 2009, Rude said the Department of Revenue saw 74,000 appeals. Moor said in 2008, Gallatin County saw more than 8,000 appeals, and it took them years to complete the reviews.