State Senator Greg Hertz told KGVO News that the State of Montana has collected an impressive amount of personal and business income taxes in the fiscal year that just ended on June 30.

“We do have a surplus and currently it looks like it's approximately about $1.4 billion, plus we also have about $600 million in our rainy day fund, so if you add that all together we're sitting on approximately $2 billion.”

Hertz detailed where the revenue came from.

“It's an aggregate of a lot of different revenues the state collects, but the primary amount of money is coming from individual income taxes and corporate income taxes,” he said. “Of course, there are some other monies coming in like our bed tax money which is up significantly because hotel prices have gone up, and that increases the taxes that you pay for a hotel stay,” he said. “Then there a lot of other different income streams but it's primarily income taxes.”

Hertz said the windfall coming into state coffers began when the COVID stimulus checks began flowing into the state.

“It all started in 2020 when the federal government started handing out trillions of dollars in surplus and stimulus money, and that continued into 2021,” he said. “So people had more money, and they spent it. Plus a lot of workers got pay raises. So with the additional spending and the increase in wages, both of those combined resulted in higher profits for businesses and individuals who paid more income taxes. So the U.S. income tax collections went up in just about every state significantly.”

Hertz said he expects the tax coffers to continue to overflow at least through 2022, and Hertz said it’s vital that Montana taxpayers have a good portion of those funds returned.

“For the balance of the calendar year 2022, I see our revenues continuing to grow,” he said. “2023 is the calendar year that is more uncertain as to what's going to happen,” he said. “Are we going to go into recession? Will things slow down? Just in case, that's why we have the $600 million and growing and our rainy day fund. We've got the money set aside to make sure we're going to be okay going forward. As for this surplus, I'm not saying give all of it back, but we can maybe give back a billion dollars over to taxpayers.”

KGVO News has reached out to Governor Greg Gianforte’s office for his ideas on returning the surplus funds to Montanans who will need it to help handle inflation and to pay skyrocketing property taxes.

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