Democrats propose new sales tax legislation

Helena – Two Democrat lawmakers are proposing legislation to enact a limited sales tax in Montana. Both bills would allow local residents to vote whether or not to pass the tax in their communities.

Representative David Fern (D-Whitefish) introduced House Bill 577 which was heard in the House Taxation committee this week and awaits further action.

Under Rep. Fern’s proposal if the tax was passed it would remain in place for 10 years and could be up to four percent. It would require that 25% of the tax revenue go toward reduce property taxes on residential and commercial property.

Bozeman City Manager Chris Kukulski spoke in favor of the proposal saying to would generate an estimated $13 million per year for Bozeman.

Officials representing other cities spoke in favor of the bill, as well as, the Montana Contractors Association. The Contractions Association is also supporting a bill to increase the state fuel tax by 38%.

The Montana Retail Association opposed the measure saying it would put local retailers at a disadvantage to online sellers such as Amazon. Brad Griffin of the Retail Association noted that it would give online retailers, who would not have to charge the tax, an automatic four percent advantage over local merchants.

Democrat Senator Mike Phillips of Bozeman has a similar plan that is set for a hearing later this week.

By: Big Sky Headlines staff