(1) The property owner of record or the property owner's agent must make application through the local department office, in order to receive the benefit provided for in 15-6-134, MCA. An application must be made on a form available from the local county appraisal/assessment office in the year for which the benefit is sought.
(a) For tax years previous to 2009, applications postmarked after March 15, will not be considered for that tax year unless the department determines the applicant was unable to apply for the current year due to hospitalization, physical illness, infirmity, or mental illness.
(b) For tax year 2009, applications were required to be postmarked by no later than 30 days after the taxpayer received their assessment notice. Applications postmarked after that date will not be considered for that tax year unless the department determines the applicant was unable to apply for the current year due to hospitalization, physical illness, infirmity, or mental illness.
(c) For tax year 2010, applications postmarked after April 15 will not be considered for that tax year unless the department determines the applicant was unable to apply for the current year due to hospitalization, physical illness, infirmity, or mental illness.
(2) These impediments must be demonstrated to have existed at significant levels from January 1 of the current year to the time of application. Telephone extensions and written extensions will be granted through July 1 of the current year for the above-listed reasons. Willful misrepresentation of facts pertaining to income or the impediments that prevent timely application filing will result in the automatic rejection of the application.
(3) The department will review the application and any supporting documents. The department may review income tax records to determine accuracy of information. The department will approve or deny the application. The applicant will be advised in writing of the decision. An annual statement of eligibility is required unless a review of income tax records or other records related to the applicant's income demonstrates that the individual had no significant change in income level and successfully qualified during the preceding 12 months prior to January 1 of the current tax year. In that situation, the department may waive the annual statement of eligibility required.
(4) Any reduction in taxable value will apply to the first $100,000 or less of the taxable market value of any mobile home or improvement on real property and appurtenant land not exceeding five acres.
(5) Income must be reported by the applicant as follows:
(a) For the 2009 tax year, the applicant is required to report their federal adjusted gross income as reported on their federal income tax return for the preceding calendar year. An applicant that is not required to file income tax for the preceding calendar year must determine what their federal adjusted gross income would have been had they been required to file.
(b) For the 2010 and subsequent tax years, the applicant is required to list total household income, which includes otherwise tax exempt income of all types. That income includes, but is not limited to:
(i) employment income;
(ii) gross business income less ordinary operating expenses but before deducting depreciation or depletion allowance;
(iii) social security;
(iv) railroad pension;
(v) teachers' pension;
(vi) employment pension;
(vii) veterans' pension;
(viii) any other pension;
(x) disability income;
(xi) unemployment benefits;
(xii) welfare payments;
(xiii) aid to dependent children;
(xv) interest from investments;
(xvi) stock/bond interest or dividends;
(xvii) interest from banks;
(xviii) any other income, but not including social security income paid directly to a nursing home;
(xix) food stamps;
(xx) direct utility payments paid by the energy share program; or
(xxi) capital gains.
(c) Total household income is not reduced or otherwise modified by losses, depletion, depreciation, or any Montana or federal adjustment to income.