Flathead Legislators met with business and community leaders in Kalispell Thursday to give a wrap up of key changes from the latest legislative session. Four Republicans from the Flathead; Senators Jon Sonju and Bruce Tutvedt, and Representatives Mark Blasdel and Scott Reichner spoke of the goals they held going into the legislature. The legislature started off with a $500-million surplus that the representatives said people had many ideas of how best to use.
“There’s income tax reduction, there’s business equipment tax reduction, and then there’s more spending that people want. This bill was something that I championed, and unfortunately it fell to the other interests that were out there,” Representative Reichner said he was pushing for permanent property tax relief, but he said business equipment tax relief won out.
The tax change awaiting Governor Bullock’s signature exempts the first $100,000 of equipment that a business has from taxes, and then business equipment would be taxed at a %1.5 up to $6-million of value.
President of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce Joe Unterreiner said this is estimated to remove about 13,000 small businesses from the business equipment tax rolls. Unterreiner said the Chamber hopes the Governor signs this bill.
“This is equipment that’s taxed regardless of whether this business is making a profit or not. So, if we want to encourage businesses to invest in the state, then we need to try to minimize the equipment with which they’re using to create production and productivity,” Unterreiner said.
Unterreiner said they would like to see Montana’s business environment continue to become more competitive from a regulatory standpoint as well as in the tax structure. He said the session made positive steps forward from a business environment viewpoint, but more work needs to be done.