Letter to the editor: There’s an alternative to a local option sales tax

Feb 25, 2021

Bozeman Daily Chronicle   The editorial regarding a local sales tax deserves a factual response and an alternative. City commissioners have tried and failed for years to get a “sales/tourist tax”, from the Legislature. It won’t ever happen. The reason is that the boys in Helena refer to Bozeman as the “silver spoon” city. Given all the wealthy folks, from absentee owners, trust fund babies, retirees, and remote workers — that’s where the dollars need to be collected. A local sales tax will hurt locals who buy things “tourists buy,” such as meals, gifts, clothing, and boots. So let’s be clear: A regressive tax is what a local sales tax is and it will hurt locals, including businesses. What the Commissioners and the Legislature should do is advocate for the reversal of the 2003 Martz Tax Cut. Passed by the Legislature and implemented in 2005, it reduces the percentage of tax paid by the wealthy. According to Montana’s Budget and Policy Center, between 2005-2018, the Martz tax cut has cost Montanans a billion dollars in lost tax revenue. Revenue that could help with infrastructure, schools, property taxes, etc. This session, I’ve asked Sen. Pat Flowers, to submit and carry legislation to reverse the Martz Tax Cut. We’ll see where it goes. In 2019, I asked Rep. Woods to introduce that same legislation which failed in the Appropriations subcommittee. Though, apparently, there was some interest in doing so. Additionally, there were some shocked Republicans on the committee to have learned they’re paying more taxes than the wealthy. This is a real and viable solution, unfortunately Gianforte is promoting more tax cuts for the wealthy rather than seeking real solutions, applying to all Montanans.
Montana Budget & Policy Center

Shaping policy for a stronger Montana.

MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.