(1) Information obtained and records prepared in the course of property tax administration in Montana are available to the public, including the property owner's name. An individual who is at risk of physical harm or to their personal safety may have a reasonable expectation of privacy. A qualified property owner, as defined in (2), may request that the department not display the name of the owner on the department's web applications upon demonstrating that the right of the individual's privacy clearly exceeds the public's right to access property records.
(2) A "qualified property owner," for the purposes of this rule, means an individual who:
(a) owns real property that is displayed on the department's online web applications; and
(b) can demonstrate that their name, if published with the property record, will create a risk of physical harm or a threat to the safety of the individual.
(3) A qualified property owner must apply for nondisclosure of their name on the department's web applications using an application form provided by the department. In addition to the application, the applicant shall submit:
(a) a statement explaining the reason(s) for the nondisclosure request; and
(b) documentation supporting the reason(s) that the individual's name should be withheld.
(4) After receipt of the application, the nondisclosure request statement, and the supporting documentation demonstrating individual safety concerns, the department will weigh the asserted privacy interest against the public's right to know to determine if the information should remain public or be maintained as confidential. The department will advise the individual and the local department office of its determination, in writing, within 30 days of receipt of the completed application materials.
(5) If approved for nondisclosure status, the individual's name will not be displayed on the department's online web applications. However, property record data, including the property owner's name, may remain available on other state or county web applications or web sites or any other media outside the department's control.
(6) The department may not withhold from public scrutiny any more information than is required to protect an individual privacy interest.
(7) Qualified property owners who have been approved for nondisclosure status will be required to submit a renewal application with supporting documentation by May 31 of every odd-numbered calendar year thereafter, for consideration and approval by the department. Examples of when a qualified property owner needs to reapply to maintain nondisclosure status are:
(a) Example 1: applicant is approved for nondisclosure status on July 1, in an odd-numbered calendar year. The nondisclosure status is in effect until May 31 of the next odd-numbered calendar year, or 23 months.
(b) Example 2: applicant is approved for nondisclosure status on July 1, in an even-numbered calendar year. The nondisclosure status is in effect until May 31 of the following year, which is an odd-numbered calendar year, or 11 months.
(8) If the renewal application required in (7) is not timely received or is not approved by the department, the individual's name will appear on the department's online web applications by June 1.
(9) The property owner's name will always remain on the department's Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) property tax system, used for property tax administration purposes. The information in the CAMA property tax system will remain available to local county and city governments for tax administration purposes, and to contractors and vendors who have entered into agreements with the department to access the system.