LTE: Tax relief for seniors

Jun 05, 2022

Daily Interlake

I was disgusted to read the editorial recently that had the AARP Montana Executive Council members pleading with the upcoming Legislature to seek some help for Social Security tax relief for seniors.

I proposed SB76 in the 2017 session to eliminate taxes on Social Security. We were then only one of 13 states that still had this law. There were 135,000 seniors over 65 in Montana — definitely more now.

Did AARP show up to testify in favor? Heck, no! There were only opponents to SB76 — the director of revenue, the Montana taxpayer lobbyist, a lobbyist for the Montana Budget & Policy Center and Eric Feaver, representing MEA/AFT. He felt we all should pay in a “progressive” way.

The $75 million fiscal note was the reason it didn’t get through the Senate Finance Committee, but it did begin a conversation.

My seatmate, David Howard, proposed SB217 in 2019. His bill revised the taxation on Social Security to relieve the marriage penalty. The fiscal note was $15 million though still opposed by the revenue director and the policy center. The Montana taxpayer lobbyist supported this bill. Did AARP weight in? No!

Senator Howard’s bill made it through the Senate and the House with Republican support and very few Democrat votes. It was later vetoed by Governor Bullock.

It is well known in legislative hallways that AARP does not show up in support of bills with Republican sponsors. I even called out one of the lobbyists for not showing up to support bills for seniors. Excuses, excuses.

Bills and votes, along with hearings can be seen/heard on the site. Don’t let AARP blow smoke without holding them accountable. Seniors deserve better representation than they have given historically.

Where were you when we needed you, AARP? Start talking to your side of the aisle. The Rs have been on the side of the seniors all along!

— Dee Brown, Hungry Horse

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.