Fair Taxation and Revenue

We support a state system of taxation that provides adequate funding for public services. Tax revenue should fully fund our schools, universities, police and fire protection, the essential infrastructure of roads, bridges and internet networks throughout the state and the human services upon which so many of us depend. To reach these revenue goals, we support a tax system that is “progressive.” By this we mean that we expect higher income residents, who have a greater ability to contribute to the general welfare of the state, to pay a larger percent of their income in taxes than those with lower incomes. Montana currently has a moderately progressive tax system, due in large part to the absence of a general sales tax.

Property taxes–The current property tax system results in substantial inequality in funding our schools because it relies on local mill levies. Property values vary widely among districts, so funding local levies also varies widely.  The Montana Budget & Policy Center’s recent report on property taxes provides evidence that substantiates the claim that property taxes are regressive.

Big Sky 55+ will:

  • Support equalizing K-12 funding by levying a greater percentage of statewide mills to fund schools
  • Support programs to protect low income property owners from rising property valuations.
  • Support making the appraisal system which forms the basis of property tax valuation, a timely and accurate reflection of the market value of the property being assessed.
  • Support passage of the 6 mil levy to support higher education in Montana

Natural resource taxesMontana’s economy has always been dependent on natural resource development.  We recognize that resources such as minerals, coal, oil and gas are finite resources and their development degrades the environment to some extent.Big Sky 55+ will:

  • Support severance tax rates which recognize that resource development is generally not a sustainable source of revenue.
  • Support the concept of banking tax revenue that comes from resource extraction and placing that revenue into trusts for the long term benefit of the state.
  • Support the Coal Tax Trust and oppose efforts to “Bust the Trust”.

Income taxes–We support a progressive income tax system. We believe that income derived from passive, investment activity should be taxed at a rate higher than the rate applied to employment income.

Big Sky 55+ will:

  • Support a system of graduated income tax rates which increases the rate as income levels rise.
  • Support efforts to increase tax rates on “passive income” derived from investment activity.
  • Support efforts to capture income derived in Montana and oppose efforts to shelter income or transfer it out of state without paying Montana taxes.
  • Support adequate funding for a tax collection system which is both fair and efficient.

Sales taxes–Targeted sales taxes are levied on a variety of products ranging from gasoline to tobacco.  These taxes are often “regressive” (low income people pay a higher percentage of income).  Still, these taxes are an important source of revenue and can achieve other public policy goals.

Big Sky 55 + will:

  • Support increasing the tobacco tax and using the income for cessation and treatment programs.
  • Oppose any effort to adopt a general sales tax in Montana.

Montana’s veterans have sacrificed for our great country. We must honor that sacrifice by taking care of them and their families. We can do better at taking care of veterans. Montana has one of the nation’s highest rates of per-capita active duty soldiers and veterans. Stronger support is needed to provide veteran health services and to help military men and women transition back to civilian life.