By Mark Nelson Recycle Montana

A 2004 economic study entitled, “The Economic and Ecological Benefits of Recycling in Montana” found recycling created at least 300 full-time jobs, generating $89,120,000 in revenue in 2003.

Recycling collection, processing and manufacturing provide an opportunity to create environmental and economic resources from what would otherwise be waste. Communities across the state are working hard to do their part, but being a rural state far from recycling markets creates challenges.

To help address these, the 1999 Legislature established a tax credit for recycling equipment and a deduction for the purchase of recycled material. Successful, both were made permanent in 2009. As recycling equipment becomes more important for collection and processing, the equipment credit helps businesses keep their operations in Montana. The purchase and use deduction helps develop the markets needed to keep the jobs here, as well. Tax incentives are long-standing tools that generally represent the common ground – and are the bulk of Montana’s policy to support recycling.

Through the equipment incentive, a Billings recycling company purchased the necessary equipment to shred hard drives, with all customer data destroyed beyond recovery. House Bill 581 and Senate Bill 282 repeal these credits and many others that policymakers and Montanans have supported. The incentives match voluntary, private investments that meet Montana goals and generate economic activity.

While both bills seek tax simplification, a more measured approach would better serve Montana. Simplification doesn’t require the elimination of these incentives and others, especially without adequate consideration of the economic benefits they’ve proven to provide to the citizens and the state.