Montana Lawsuit Likely Reason Why Property Tax Bills Will be Late
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The recent lawsuit by the State of Montana against over 50 counties due to mills levied for property taxes is the likely reason why there is a delay in creating the property tax bills this month.
KGVO News spoke to Missoula County Clerk and Recorder/Treasurer Tyler Gernant on Wednesday morning for the reason behind the late release of property tax bills.
Tyler Gernant Explains Why Property Tax Bills are Being Delayed
“Typically we receive the tax roll from the Department of Revenue towards the beginning of October, and then we process tax bills once we receive that, because their file has to balance with our file,” began Gernant. “After that, we process those tax bills and create the bills that are then available online. Once those bills are created to be available online, we can start creating the print file that goes to our printer. This year, we didn't receive the file until yesterday (Tuesday) morning. Our understanding is it has to do with the lawsuit between the state and the county regarding the 95 mills from the state.”
Gernant attempted to briefly explain the process of assessing the amount of property taxes to each household or business.
“Because there was such a huge increase in (property) values, local governments actually can't assess the same number of mills this year that they did last year, because that would create a huge windfall for local governments,” he said. “State statute doesn't allow for that to happen, which means local governments generally would be required to lower their mill levies, and there's a different formula for schools but they also have some restrictions. It's not just whatever your property value is; your taxes go up by that much as well.”
The Delay is Most Likely Due to the State's Lawsuit of the Counties
Gernant continued his explanation for the delay.
“Generally speaking, the state gets to levy 95 mils; however, this time the calculation showed that they can mill 77.9. But because previously they had a cap of 95, there's a lawsuit over whether they get to mill the 95 or the 77.9. As a result of that lawsuit that is currently pending or at least we believe the state was delayed in getting us the tax roll, which means that your tax bills are going to be delayed.”
Gernant says there will be 'Sticker Shock' but Not to Panic
Gernant was honest in saying there will indeed be some ‘sticker shock’ over most property tax bills, but not to panic.
“Panic is not necessarily warranted, but there is going to be some sticker shock that I think everybody has been prepared for,” he said. “My hope is that people are prepared for worse than what will actually happen, but your taxes are going to go up. That is a certainty, I would say for most people unless your property value didn't go up by that much. So, as long as people are prepared and understand that this is part of the system that the state of Montana utilizes to fund local government.”
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