Amended Property Tax Statements On Their Way To Richland Co. Taxpayers

Richland County taxpayers can expect to receive an amended property tax statement within the next few weeks.

The new tax bills are the result of the November 2023 Montana Supreme Court ruling in favor of Governor Gianforte and the Montana Department of Revenue (DOR), and against the 49 of Montana’s 56 counties that revolted against the DOR and refused to collect the full 95 mill state-level school equalization levy. Those counties only billed 77.9 mills.

The 1972 Montana Constitution requires the state to provide the public with an education system that provides equality of educational opportunity. The 95 mill school equalization levy was adopted by the legislature in an effort to meet that requirement. The counties estimated that, with rising property taxes in the state, the levy would generate about $99 million more than last year,’s revenues baked into the budget passed by last year’s legislature. The Department of Revenue (DOR) directed the counties to collect the 95 mills, the same as they had for decades. The 49 counties refused and billed at the lower rate of 77.9 mills.

The Montana Association of Counties and some individuals filed a lawsuit against the State and the DOR. In a unanimous opinion, the justices stated they generally defer to state agencies like the DOR when questions arise about a law that agencies have consistently interpreted in a particular way for considerable lengths of time.

Richland County Treasurer Amy Metz expects to have amended property tax statements ready to mail to taxpayers by March 25.

Metz said that if a taxpayer paid their property taxes in full last fall, they will receive a bill for the difference between the 95 and 77.9 mills. If they paid only the first half, the difference will all be calculated on the second half. If a taxpayer forgot to pay their taxes in November, there will be penalties and interest on the original first half amount billed; the amended amount will be added to the second half taxes only.

All taxes are due by May 31, 2024. Metz said there will be a section on the tax statement that explains the situation and encourages everyone to read their statement fully. If you still have questions, you can contact the Richland County Treasurer’s office at 406-433-1707.


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