(1) The property owner of record or the property owner's agent must make application through the department in order to obtain a property tax exemption. An application must be filed on a form available from the local department office before March 1 of the year for which the exemption is sought or within 30 days after receiving an assessment notice, whichever is later. Applications postmarked after March 1 or more than 30 days of receiving the assessment notice, whichever is later, will be considered for the following tax year only, unless the department determines any of the following conditions are met:
(a) the taxpayer is notified after March 1 by AB-34 (Removal of Property Tax Exemption Letter) that the property will be placed on the tax roll. The taxpayer shall have 30 days after receipt of the notice to submit an application for exemption;
(b) the local department office refuses to accept an application a taxpayer or organization is attempting to submit before March 1;
(c) the local department office gives the applicant incorrect application information; or
(d) the applicant was unable to apply for the current year due to hospitalization, physical illness, infirmity, or mental illness. These impediments must be demonstrated to have existed at significant levels from January 1 of the current year to the time of application. Extensions will be granted through July 1, or up to 30 days after the last general mailing of real property assessment notices has occurred in that county, for the current year for those impediments.
(2) The following documents must accompany the application:
(a) articles of incorporation (if incorporated) ;
(b) Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt status letter, if they have one (501 determination letter) ;
(c) deed or security agreement which is evidence of ownership (for real property only) ;
(d) title of motor vehicle or mobile home or letter of explanation if title is not applicable which is evidence of ownership (for personal property only) ;
(e) letter explaining how the organization or society qualifies for property tax exemption and the specific use of the property; and
(f) photograph of the property, if available.
(3) Upon receipt of the application and supporting documents, the local department office will perform a field evaluation. The department will approve or deny the application. The applicant and the local department office will be advised, in writing, of the decision.
(4) If the property is owned by a governmental entity (such as city, county, or state) , the federal government (unless Congress has passed legislation allowing the state to tax property owned by a federal entity) , nonprofit irrigation districts organized under Montana law, municipal corporations, public libraries, or rural fire districts and other entities providing fire protection under Title 7, chapter 33, MCA, the department will employ the following exemption criteria for real property when considering exemption claims based upon 15-6-201 , MCA:
(a) the properties will be tax-exempt as of the purchase date that is reflected on the deed or security agreement;
(b) if a property is tax-exempt as of January 1 of the current tax year and is sold to a nonqualifying purchaser after January 1 of the current tax year, it becomes taxable upon the transfer of the property. The tax is prorated according to 15-16-203 , MCA; and
(c) if a property is tax-exempt, as stated in (4) (b) , and is sold as tax-deed property to a nonqualifying purchaser after January 1 of the current tax year, it becomes taxable on January 1 following the execution of such contract or deed as provided in 7-8-2307 , MCA.
(5) The department will employ the following exemption criteria for real properties when considering exemption claims based upon 15-6-201 , 15-6-203 , and 15-6-209 , MCA.
(a) Real property purchased by a qualifying exemption applicant after January 1 of the current tax year will become exempt on the date of acquisition as evidenced by the deed and realty transfer certificate, if an application (if one is required for the exemption) is filed by the application deadline for that tax year and the property meets statutory requirements.