BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
TO: All Concerned Persons
1. On January 16, 2014, the Department of Revenue published MAR Notice Number 42-2-905 pertaining to the public hearing on the proposed amendment of the above-stated rules at page 98 of the 2014 Montana Administrative Register, Issue Number 1.
2. On February 6, 2014, a public hearing was held to consider the proposed amendments. The department has thoroughly considered the comments and testimony received. A summary of the comments received and the department's responses are as follows:
COMMENT NO. 1: Robert Story, President of the Montana Taxpayers Association, appeared and testified at the hearing. He stated that he applauds the department for attempting to make these programs more understandable to the average citizen. The rules regarding late applications being applied to the following year will help people get in sync with the system, which is good.
Mr. Story expressed concern with ARM 42.19.405, regarding the definition of total household income as it relates to the EPTAP program, specifically where it talks about the income of all members of the household or all other persons who are owners of the property. When the legislature enacted this statute, we were really looking at the income of the residents of the property who are not renters. The original intent of the program was to reach these people. Reading the rule, the provision may include a person who is purchasing the property. The definition is broad and might encompass more people than we intended. He commented that he hopes the department will look at this to see if the definition needs to be made clearer and tightened up a little bit.
Mr. Story explained that when you bring into the definition the income of all other persons who are owners of the property, you might be grabbing the income of people who shouldn't be counted, such as an owner who sold the property under contract. Certain properties sold under contract for deed do not transfer ownership until the contract is paid off, and it is the same with escrows. He further explained that while some people put their property in trusts and are the trustee/beneficiary of that trust, there are other properties put into a trust where the trustee may be a bank, or a management company. I don't think you want their income included.
RESPONSE NO. 1: The department appreciates Mr. Story's participation at the hearing and his comments point out a potential problem. However, the definition for "total household income" is statutory and would require legislative action to change.
Specifically, 15-6-193(4)(d), MCA, states in part that total household income is "the sum of the income of all members of the household and all other persons who are owners of the property" and also states in part that a household is "an association of persons who live in the same dwelling, sharing its furnishings, facilities, accommodations, and expenses. For single-family rental dwellings, total household income does not include the income of the tenant."
Household income varies among the property tax assistance programs and as such the department proposed to include the definitions in rule to help property taxpayers understand the differing eligibility requirements between the programs.
3. The department has amended ARM 42.19.406 as proposed.
4. Upon further review, the department has amended the following rules as proposed, but with the following changes from the original proposal, new matter underlined, deleted matter interlined:
42.19.401 PROPERTY TAX ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (PTAP) (1) remains as proposed.
(2) The benefit is a reduction in taxable value that applies to the first $100,000 or less of the taxable market value of any improvement on real property, including trailers, manufactured homes, or mobile homes, and appurtenant land not exceeding five acres owned or under contract for deed and actually occupied for at least seven months a year as the primary residential dwelling of one or more qualified applicants.
Buildings used for agricultural purposes do not qualify for the benefit.
(3) through (14) remain as proposed.
42.19.405 DEFINITIONS The following definitions apply to rules found in this chapter.
(1) through (7) remain as proposed.
AUTH: 15-1-201, MCA
IMP: 15-6-134, 15-6-193, 15-30-2101, MCA
42.19.501 PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION FOR QUALIFIED DISABLED VETERANS (1) remains as proposed.
(2) The exemption applies to any residential improvement on real property, including trailers, manufactured homes, or mobile homes, and appurtenant land, not to exceed five acres, that is owned and occupied by a veteran or a veteran's spouse provided for in 15-6-211, MCA.
Land in excess of five acres and buildings used for agricultural purposes will not be exempt.
(3) through (14) remain as proposed.
5. An electronic copy of this notice is available on the department's web site, revenue.mt.gov. Select the "Resources" tab at the top of the homepage and then locate the "Adoption Notices" section below. The department strives to make the electronic copy of this notice conform to the official version of the notice, as printed in the Montana Administrative Register, but advises all concerned persons that in the event of a discrepancy between the official printed text of the notice and the electronic version of the notice, only the official printed text will be considered. While the department also strives to keep its web site accessible at all times, in some instances it may be temporarily unavailable due to system maintenance or technical problems.
/s/ Laurie Logan /s/ Mike Kadas
LAURIE LOGAN MIKE KADAS
Rule Reviewer Director of Revenue
Certified to the Secretary of State on February 18, 2014