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Property Tax and Reappraisal Changes in Montana

This article published on June 23, 2015 by the Billing’s Gazette touches on some changes that will be felt regarding the change of property tax assessments from a six year cycle to a two year cycle.

State property tax assessments to be issued soon

by Tom Lutey, BILLINGS GAZETTE- Montana’s property tax assessments are set to hit mailboxes in the next week, and taxpayers wanting to appeal will have to hustle.

Gone are the days when a property’s full taxable value was stepped in over six years to keep tax increases gradual. Under the old plan, a homeowner who disagreed with how much the state said her property was worth could take her time appealing. She may have to pay her property taxes for the first year if she didn’t act quickly, but she could challenge years that remained and maybe get her taxes lowered for several years.

The new tax rules passed by state lawmakers in April scrapped the six-year plan for one that sets new property values every two years, which is intended to make property taxes simpler because the two-year valuation doesn’t go up.

But a two-year evaluation doesn’t leave much time for appeal. The Department of Revenue told The Gazette that a property owner who disagrees with the value the state has put on their property would have to start the appeals process by the end of July in order to get their taxes reset for 2015.

The state allows taxpayers to request an informal review of new values within 30 days of receiving an assessment notice from Department of Revenue. It’s the assessment notices that will be going out as early as Thursday for some people, but by Monday, June 29, for most.

For most taxpayers, the informal appeal, known as the form AB 26 program, is worthwhile, said Mary Ann Dunwell, DOR spokeswoman.

“Over 90 percent of those people who file informally in the AB 26 program resolve their differences,” Dunwell said.

Anyone who misses the 30-day window for informal review isn’t going to have enough time to launch a formal appeal before their first tax payment is due. That means they’ll only have enough time to appeal the second year of the assessment.

Then, a new round of assessments will begin again in June 2017.

Taxpayers have a history of not paying attention to the assessment notices they receive in mid-summer of a reappraisal year, Dunwell said. What taxpayers pay attention to are the new tax bills that show up in mailboxes the following November. If taxpayers wait until November to object to the value the state has placed on a property, it’s going to be too late.

Montana property owners statewide saw a net decrease of 2.85 percent in their assessments under the current reappraisal. However home values in Yellowstone County increased 10.3 percent, according to a DOR estimate of reappraisal impacts, which was prepared for the Montana Legislature.

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