Montana’s GOP-controlled Legislature put $899 million into tax rebates refunding residents’ income and property taxes. Here’s what you need to do to make sure you get your share.
By Eric Dietrich MONTANA FREE PRESS
Montana’s Republican-controlled Legislature directed hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s budget surplus — $899 million in total — toward income and property tax rebates during its 2023 session. With those rebates signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte, here’s what taxpayers need to know to make sure they get their refund from the Montana Department of Revenue:
HOW MUCH DO I QUALIFY FOR?
Lawmakers passed two buckets of rebates, one focused on income taxes and the other on property taxes:
Rebates on 2021 Montana income taxes
If you were a full-year Montana resident who paid your state taxes on 2020 and 2021 income on time, you should receive a rebate of up to $1,250 for your 2021 taxes. If you meet those requirements but paid less than $1,250 in 2021, you should have your entire payment refunded.
The $1,250 cap applies to taxpayers who filed as single taxpayers, heads of household or married taxpayers who filed separately. Married couples who filed jointly are eligible for up to twice that amount, $2,500.
The law specifies that taxpayers who didn’t file taxes as full- or part-year residents in 2020 or who paid their 2020 or 2021 taxes late won’t be eligible for rebates.
More information on the income tax rebates is available from the revenue department here.
Rebates on 2022 and 2023 property taxes
Homeowners are eligible for up to $675 a year for their 2022 and 2023 property taxes on their principal residence, defined as the place where you’ve lived for at least seven months of the year. If you paid less than $675 in property taxes in either year, you’ll be eligible for a refund of your entire payment.
While payments are often handled through banks for homes with mortgages, property tax payments are made to county treasurers twice a year, with payments due in November and May. The department says the 2022 rebate is applicable to November 2022 and May 2023 payments and the 2023 rebate is applicable to November 2023 and May 2024 payments.
More information on the property tax rebates is available from the revenue department here.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET THE INCOME TAX REBATE?
Nothing, according to the revenue department, which says it will send rebates automatically to qualifying taxpayers. Rebates will either be deposited in your bank account electronically or mailed, using the account or address information you gave the department for your most recent tax return.
The department says it will start issuing income tax rebates in July. The law requires all rebates to be completed by Dec. 31.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET THE PROPERTY TAX REBATES?
These you have to apply for. The department says taxpayers can apply for the 2022 property tax rebates through its online TransAction Portal or via a paper form during an application period that runs from Aug. 15, 2023, to Oct. 1, 2023. A second application period for 2023 rebates will be open across the same dates in 2024.
I DON’T REMEMBER HOW MUCH I PAID IN 2021 STATE INCOME TAXES. WHERE CAN I LOOK THAT NUMBER UP?
If you’re looking at your old tax filings, the department says the income tax number used for its rebate calculations is the number on line 20 of its 2021 Montana Individual Income Tax Return form.
I RENT INSTEAD OF OWNING MY HOME. DO I QUALIFY FOR THESE REBATES?
All resident taxpayers regardless of ownership status quality for the income tax rebates. The property tax rebates, however, are available only to homeowners for taxes paid on their principal residence. While landlords typically use a portion of renters’ housing payments to pay property taxes on rental properties, the Legislature didn’t make the property tax rebates available for homes that aren’t owner-occupied.
WHO DESERVES CREDIT FOR THIS?
Gov. Gianforte’s original budget proposal included only property tax rebates in combination with forward-looking income tax rate cuts, but threw his support behind a combination of smaller property tax rebates and income tax rebates after negotiations with legislative Republicans.
While Democrats said they thought the 2023 Legislature should authorize some tax relief, the income and property tax rebate bills, House Bill 192 and House Bill 222, ultimately passed with Republican support on near-party-line votes. Democrats, who said they worried about underfunding other budget priorities, did make unsuccessful attempts to amend the property tax relief bill to include renters.
A subsequent, late-session bill that put more funding into tax rebates, House Bill 816, passed with support from most Republicans and a handful of Democrats.
Beyond those facts, we’ll leave this answer to your own judgment.
SHOULD I EXPECT THIS AGAIN IN 2025?
That’s up to the 2025 Legislature, but probably not. The state’s 2023 surplus, fueled by pandemic-era economic stimulus, inflation and migration driving up income tax collections, was quite likely a once-in-a-generation situation.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ON THESE REBATES?
The revenue department has published an official FAQ on its website here.
This story was originally published by Montana Free Press at montanafreepress.org. MTFP will provide updates periodically as new information on the rebates becomes available. Have a question about the rebates we don’t address here? Drop Deputy Editor Eric Dietrich a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.