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HOUSE BILL NO. 659
INTRODUCED BY R. MENAHAN
AN ACT ELIMINATING THE NEED TO PROCESS A NEW TAX BILL OR TO ISSUE A REFUND AS THE RESULT OF A REVISED PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT WHEN THE ADDITIONAL TAX OR REFUND IS $5 OR LESS; AMENDING SECTIONS 15-1-402, 15-16-101, 15-16-102, AND 15-16-605, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE, AN APPLICABILITY DATE, AND A RETROACTIVE APPLICABILITY DATE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 15-1-402, MCA, is amended to read:
"15-1-402. Payment of taxes under protest. (1) The person upon whom a property tax or fee is being imposed under this title may, before the property tax or fee becomes delinquent, pay under written protest that portion of the property tax or fee protested. The protested payment must:
(a) be made to the officer designated and authorized to collect it;
(b) specify the grounds of protest; and
(c) not exceed the difference between the payment for the immediately preceding tax year and the amount owing in the tax year protested unless a different amount results from the specified grounds of protest, which may include but are not limited to changes in assessment due to reappraisal under 15-7-111.
(2) A person appealing a property tax or fee pursuant to chapter 2 or 15 shall pay the tax or fee under protest when due in order to receive a refund. If the tax or fee is not paid under protest when due, the appeal may continue but a tax or fee may not be refunded as a result of the appeal.
(3) If a protested property tax or fee is payable in installments, a subsequent installment portion considered unlawful by the state tax appeal board need not be paid and an action or suit need not be commenced to recover the subsequent installment. The determination of the action or suit commenced to recover the first installment portion paid under protest determines the right of the party paying the subsequent installment to have it or any part of it refunded to the party or the right of the taxing authority to collect a subsequent installment not paid by the taxpayer plus interest from the date the subsequent installment was due.
(4) All property taxes and fees paid under protest to a county or municipality must be deposited by the treasurer of the county or municipality to the credit of a special fund to be designated as a protest fund and must be retained in the protest fund until the final determination of any action or suit to recover the taxes and fees unless they are released at the request of the county, municipality, or other local taxing jurisdiction pursuant to subsection (5). This section does not prohibit the investment of the money of this fund in the state unified investment program or in any manner provided in Title 7, chapter 6. The provision creating the special protest fund does not apply to any payments made under protest directly to the state.
(5) The governing board of a taxing jurisdiction affected by the payment of taxes under protest in the second and subsequent years that a tax protest remains unresolved may demand that the treasurer of the county or municipality pay the requesting taxing jurisdiction all or a portion of the protest payments to which it is entitled, except the amount paid by the taxpayer in the first year of the protest. The decision in a previous year of a taxing jurisdiction to leave protested taxes in the protest fund does not preclude it from demanding in a subsequent year any or all of the payments to which it is entitled, except the first-year protest amount.
(6) (a) If action before the county tax appeal board, state tax appeal board, or district court is not commenced within the time specified or if the action is commenced and finally determined in favor of the department of revenue, county, municipality, or treasurer of the county or the municipality, the amount of the protested portions of the property tax or fee must be taken from the protest fund and deposited to the credit of the fund or funds to which the property tax belongs, less a pro rata deduction for the costs of administration of the protest fund and related expenses charged the local government units.
(b) If the action is finally determined adversely to the department of revenue, a county, a municipality, or the treasurer of a county or a municipality, then the treasurer shall, upon receiving a certified copy of the final judgment in the action from the state tax appeal board or from the district or supreme court, as appropriate, if the final action of the state tax appeal board is appealed in the time prescribed, refund to the person in whose favor the judgment is rendered the amount of the protested portions of the property tax or fee deposited in the protest fund, and not released pursuant to subsection (5), as the person holding the judgment is entitled to recover, together with interest from the date of payment under protest, at the greater of:
(i) the rate of interest generated from the pooled investment fund provided for in 17-6-203 for the applicable period; or
(ii) 6% a year.
(c) If the amount retained in the protest fund is insufficient to pay all sums due the taxpayer, the treasurer shall apply the available amount first to tax repayment, then interest owed, and lastly to costs.
(d) If the protest action is decided adversely to a taxing jurisdiction and the amount retained in the protest fund is insufficient to refund the tax payments and costs to which the taxpayer is entitled and for which local government units are responsible, the treasurer shall bill and the taxing jurisdiction shall refund to the treasurer that portion of the taxpayer refund, including tax payments and costs, for which the taxing jurisdiction is proratably responsible.
(e) In satisfying the requirements of subsection (6)(d), the taxing jurisdiction is allowed not more than 1 year from the beginning of the fiscal year following a final resolution of the protest. The taxpayer is entitled to interest on the unpaid balance at the greater of the rates referred to in subsections (6)(b)(i) and (6)(b)(ii) from the date of payment under protest until the date of final resolution of the protest and at the combined rate of the federal reserve discount rate quoted from the federal reserve bank in New York, New York, on the date of final resolution, plus four percentage points, from the date of final resolution of the protest until refund is made.
(7) A taxing jurisdiction may satisfy the requirements of this section by use of funds from one or more of the following sources:
(a) imposition of a property tax to be collected by a special tax protest refund levy;
(b) the general fund, except that amount generated by the all-purpose mill levy, or any other funds legally available to the governing body; and
(c) proceeds from the sale of bonds issued by a county, city, or school district for the purpose of deriving revenue for the repayment of tax protests lost by the taxing jurisdiction. The governing body of a county, city, or school district is authorized to issue the bonds pursuant to procedures established by law. The bonds may be issued without being submitted to an election. Property taxes may be levied to amortize the bonds.
(8) If the department revises an assessment that results in a refund of taxes of $5 or less, a refund is not owed."
Section 2. Section 15-16-101, MCA, is amended to read:
"15-16-101. Treasurer to publish notice -- manner of publication. (1) Within 10 days after the receipt of the property tax record, the county treasurer shall publish a notice specifying:
(a) that one-half of all taxes levied and assessed will be due and payable before 5 p.m. on the next November 30 or within 30 days after the notice is postmarked and that unless paid prior to that time the amount then due will be delinquent and will draw interest at the rate of 5/6 of 1% per month from the time of delinquency until paid and 2% will be added to the delinquent taxes as a penalty;
(b) that one-half of all taxes levied and assessed will be due and payable on or before 5 p.m. on the next May 31 and that unless paid prior to that time the taxes will be delinquent and will draw interest at the rate of 5/6 of 1% per month from the time of delinquency until paid and 2% will be added to the delinquent taxes as a penalty; and
(c) the time and place at which payment of taxes may be made.
(2) The county treasurer shall send to the last-known address of each taxpayer a written notice, postage prepaid, showing the amount of taxes and assessments due for the current year and the amount due and delinquent for other years. The written notice must include:
(a) the taxable value of the property;
(b) the total mill levy applied to that taxable value;
(c) the value of each mill in that county;
(d) itemized city services and special improvement district assessments collected by the county;
(e) the number of the school district in which the property is located; and
(f) the amount of the total tax due that is levied as city tax, county tax, state tax, school district tax, and other tax.
(3) The municipality shall, upon request of the county treasurer, provide the information to be included under subsection (2)(d) ready for mailing.
(4) The notice in every case must be published once a week for 2 weeks in a weekly or daily newspaper published in the county, if there is one, or if there is not, then by posting it in three public places. Failure to publish or post notices does not relieve the taxpayer from any tax liability. Any failure to give notice of the tax due for the current year or of delinquent tax will not affect the legality of the tax.
(5) If the department revises an assessment that results in an additional tax of $5 or less, an additional tax is not owed and a new tax bill does not need to be prepared."
Section 3. Section 15-16-102, MCA, is amended to read:
"15-16-102. Time for payment -- penalty for delinquency. Unless suspended or canceled under the provisions of Title 15, chapter 24, part 17, all taxes levied and assessed in the state of Montana, except assessments made for special improvements in cities and towns payable under 15-16-103, are payable as follows:
(1) One-half of the taxes are payable on or before 5 p.m. on November 30 of each year or within 30 days after the tax notice is postmarked, whichever is later, and one-half are payable on or before 5 p.m. on May 31 of each year.
(2) Unless one-half of the taxes are paid on or before 5 p.m. on November 30 of each year or within 30 days after the tax notice is postmarked, whichever is later, the amount payable is delinquent and draws interest at the rate of 5/6 of 1% a month from and after the delinquency until paid and 2% must be added to the delinquent taxes as a penalty.
(3) All taxes due and not paid on or before 5 p.m. on May 31 of each year are delinquent and draw interest at the rate of 5/6 of 1% a month from and after the delinquency until paid, and 2% must be added to the delinquent taxes as a penalty.
(4) If the date on which taxes are due falls on a holiday or Saturday, taxes may be paid without penalty or interest on or before 5 p.m. of the next business day in accordance with 1-1-307.
(5) A taxpayer may pay current year taxes without paying delinquent taxes. The county treasurer shall accept a partial payment equal to the delinquent taxes, including penalty and interest, for one or more full taxable years, provided that taxes for both halves of the current tax year have been paid. Payment of taxes for delinquent taxes must be applied to the taxes that have been delinquent the longest. The payment of taxes for the current tax year is not a redemption of the property tax lien for any delinquent tax year.
(6) The penalty and interest on delinquent assessment payments for specific parcels of land may be waived by resolution of the city council. A copy of the resolution must be certified to the county treasurer.
(7) If the department revises an assessment that results in an additional tax of $5 or less, an additional tax is not owed and a new tax bill does not need to be prepared."
Section 4. Section 15-16-605, MCA, is amended to read:
"15-16-605. Payment of refunds -- exception. (1) In the order to refund a tax, penalty, interest, or cost under 15-16-603, the board of county commissioners shall determine the method of payment. The board may refund the amount due the taxpayer in installments over a period not to exceed 10 years. If the refund is made in installments, the taxpayer is entitled to interest on the unpaid balance at the interest rate received on public money invested by the county as provided in Title 7, chapter 6, part 2; Title 7, chapter 6, part 27; or 17-6-204.
A Except as provided in subsection (3), a refund of a tax, penalty, interest, or cost under 15-16-603 must be paid by
the county treasurer out of the general fund of the county. The county treasurer shall transfer money from other funds of the
county and of the state, school district, or other taxing jurisdictions that are proratably responsible for the refunds as may be
necessary to reimburse the county general fund for the refund.
(3) If the board of county commissioners revises an assessment of property taxes that would result in a refund of $5 or less, then a refund is not owed to the taxpayer."
Section 5. Effective date -- applicability -- retroactive applicability. [This act] is effective on passage and approval and applies to changes or corrections in revised property tax assessments occurring after [the effective date of this act] and applies retroactively, within the meaning of 1-2-109, to changes or corrections that have been made prior to [the effective date of this act] but for which a new tax bill or refund has not yet been issued.
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Latest Version of HB 659 (HB0659.ENR)
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