Missoula County Treasurer Tyler Gernant said that as of Friday, there was still no word that Governor Bullock might provide some relief from property taxes which are due on June 1.

“The second half payment of property taxes is due on June 1,” said Gernant. “I know that there were discussions in the governor’s office to perhaps use an executive order to delay the second half due date, but it is my understanding that those discussions are not progressing in a way that would lead to that, primarily because a number of local governments have raised objections to not having that revenue to pay for essential services.”

Gernant explained what local property taxes are used for.

“Essential services such as police, fire and schools,” he said. “Those are the three biggest drivers of property taxes along with infrastructure improvements such as road maintenance and things like that are next, and then there are a lot of smaller ticket items. Primarily, though, what you’re funding are police, fire and schools.”

Gernant explained the penalty for not paying property taxes by the June 1 due date.

“When you miss the deadline, by statute there is an automatic one percent penalty for the amount that you’ve missed,” he said. “We can’t accept partial payments by statute which means whatever your payment is there’s an automatic one percent penalty applied. After that there’s a 10 percent interest rate, and then more charges after that.”

Gernant then explained the worst-case scenario if a person defaulted on their property taxes altogether.

“The initial action would be that there is a lien placed on your property and that actually happened by operation of law,” he said. “We record the lien on the first of August and then after we have recorded that lien, it is available for others to purchase, so typically third party investors would come in and purchase those liens. Then, you have three years to pay off those liens before you run the risk of losing your home.”

Gernant said he and his office have lobbied the Department of revenue to allow for the ability to waive penalties and interest for taxpayers who are really hurting, but that decision is out of his hands.

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