It's time for a balanced approach

Montanans want to live in a state they can be proud of -- one where our workforce is educated, our communities are safe, our families are healthy, and our drinking water and food supply are clean.


But a thriving state doesn't happen accidentally. Montana’s economic well-being and quality of life rise or fall based on how well we support schools, job training, public health, and other key public services.

With Montana still recovering from the Great Recession, some legislators think that cutting public services and budgets is the holy grail.


But cuts alone won't work. It's time to look at the revenue side of the equation. To maintain the public services that have brought us this far, we need to raise new revenue.


MEA-MFT is part of a large and growing statewide coaltiion that is looking for ways to raise revenue to pay for the essential services our members provide and Montanans need. There are ways to do it without raising taxes for Montana's people.


Going after out-of-state tax cheats is one example. There are several legislative ideas that would do just that. For example: 


SB 94 (Erickson, D-Missoula)  SB 94 seeks to limit tax avoidance by multi-national corporations, in order to maintain funding for important public programs and services.


Companies that do business in Montana have a responsibility to Montana. Education, infrastructure, and other public services don’t just benefit families, they help businesses too. They provide well-trained employees, safe communities, and a reliable transportation systems. To maintain these services, we all need to pitch in. But offshore tax shelters let big business off the hook. SB 94 would change that.


If multi-national corporations want to do business in Montana, they need to help maintain public services that drive economic growth. That includes all the services MEA-MFT members provide. Limiting the use of offshore tax shelters will keep Montana’s money in Montana.


You can’t get something for nothing, but that’s what offshore tax shelters try to do. It’s not right to for Montana’s small businesses and families to carry the load for big businesses that use our roads, water, and other public resources paid for with our tax dollars. We need to put an end to offshore tax shelters to make sure everyone contributes to our quality of life and economy.


SB 222 (Dick Barrett, D-Missoula) would raise $4.3 million in new revenue over the next two years by requiring out-of-state residents to pay their fair share. 


Montana has become a playground for out-of-staters who purchase vacation homes and enjoy our parks, clean water, and everything else that makes Montana beautiful. While these non-residents all enjoy the bounty of Montana, many refuse to contribute to it.


Each year, Montana loses millions of dollars when non-residents fail to pay taxes on their real estate sales.


Unlike the rest of us, some of these out-of-staters aren’t contributing to our schools, roads, and health systems because they aren’t paying taxes on real estate sales, costing our state millions.


House Bill 222 would make sure out-of-state homeowners pay taxes when they sell Montana real estate and make a profit. Ninety-six percent of Montanans pay these taxes, compared to only 35% of non-residents! 


HB 222 would help make sure out-of-state landowners meet their responsibility to Montana. We need this revenue now more than ever to help us maintain the education, health care and other public systems that make Montana a great place to live, work, and visit.


STATUS: The bill is in House Tax Committee and could use your support! Contact members of the committee and ask them to ensure that the non-residents enjoying our state pay what they already owe. Send them a message now or call them at 444-4800.

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