As I meet with Montanans in every corner of our state, I hear the same concern often - taxes are too high. And they're right. Taxes are too high and need to be reined in.
Two years ago, we enacted a fiscally responsible budget, and as a result, the state of Montana today has a historic budget surplus. Ultimately, that means you overpaid your taxes, and we're giving it back to you.
When we released our Budget for Montana Families last November, we again held the line on spending, and we focused on providing hardworking Montanans with meaningful income and property tax relief.
We worked with legislators and got property tax relief across the finish line. We're providing Montana homeowners with a property tax rebate of up to $675 both this year and next - rebates the state won't tax. In contrast, the state in 2007 issued a one-time property tax rebate of $400, and then turned around and taxed the rebate. We're not doing that.
We also reformed Montana's Property Tax Assistance Program to expand property tax relief to low- and fixed-income Montana homeowners.
Montana's nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division estimates our property tax relief measures ($383 million) almost completely offset what residential taxpayers will pay over the next two years ($394 million).
While our property tax relief package is meaningful, we must also make significant, long-term reforms to rein in property taxes. The fact is property taxes fund local jurisdictions - from counties to cities to school districts. While most local jurisdictions are fiscally responsible, we've seen property taxes rise too much as some local governments grow their spending at alarming rates, driven in part by voter-approved mill levies.
To ease the property tax burden, we must reform our system and bring greater transparency, accountability, and responsibility to local spending. I'm committed to getting it done.
In addition to property tax rebates in 2023 and 2024, we also delivered the largest income tax rebates in history - up to $1,250 for an individual and up to $2,500 for a married couple. If you were a full-year resident in 2021, paid income taxes for 2021, filed a return for 2020, and weren't claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer, you qualify for an income tax rebate.
The good news is you don't have to do anything. The State of Montana is sending you your income tax rebate by direct deposit or paper check, depending on how you filed your most recent state income tax return. So keep an eye on your bank statement for a deposit from "State of Montana" or on your mailbox for a paper check.
Taken together, both our property and income tax rebates will provide $3,850 of relief to many Montana families. To learn more about your tax rebates, visit getmyrebate.mt.gov.
And while we focused much of our efforts on getting your money back to you since you over-paid your taxes, we also secured permanent tax relief for hardworking Montanans.
Earlier this year, I signed into law the largest tax cut in state history - a $500 million tax cut that provides Montanans at every income level with long-term income tax relief. We cut the income tax rate most Montanans pay, from 6.9% in 2021 to 5.9% in 2024. We also tripled the state's earned income tax credit to help lower-income working Montanans and incentivize work.
Our approach to taxes is guided by this simple philosophy: hardworking Montanans should keep more of what they earn, because ultimately, it isn't the government's money. It's the money of hardworking Montanans who earn it.
From property tax rebates to permanent income tax cuts, our historic tax relief package will help Montana workers and families keep more of what they earn. Our tax cuts, rebates, and reforms will help create more good-paying jobs, grow our economy, and bring the American dream into greater reach for more Montanans.