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Deadline approaching for Property Tax Assistance Programs

The deadline is approaching for eligible Montanans to apply
Posted at 5:53 PM, Apr 10, 2024

The deadline is approaching for eligible Montanans to apply for two property tax relief programs to help reduce the burden of property taxes for low income families and disabled veterans.

Kaite Kakalecik, the Cascade County area manager for the Montana Department of Revenue, explained, “We have two different tax assistance programs. The first one is our property tax assistance program that's available to anyone as long as they meet the ownership requirement, which depending on where your income falls or your taxable income falls, you can get a 30%, a 50% or an 80% reduction on your state portion of your property taxes. So it is a good benefit for these taxpayers if they qualify.”

Applicants must meet certain criteria based on home ownership, occupancy requirements, and income qualifications. It is a one time application, so if you’ve applied for the program in the past, you don’t have to apply again.

The Montana Department of Revenue also has the Disabled American Vet program.

Kakalecik said, “It is for any disabled American vet that's rated or paid out 100% disabled. They also have to fall within the income brackets, but it's also available for surviving spouse as well. Once you apply for either of these programs one time, whether you're approved or denied, you never have to apply for it again. We automatically are able to run income verification. So the application is available online on our website, or they can call our office and we can mail an application. Both applications are due by April 15th”.

The most broadly available program is simply called the Property Tax Assistance Program, or PTAP. Kaatz said about 22,000 people are currently enrolled.

To qualify for PTAP, you have to own a home in Montana, live in it at least seven months of the year and have an income within a specific range. Those who are eligible can have their property taxes reduced by 30%, 50% or 80% on part of their home’s value, based on their income.

The income ranges are updated every year to account for inflation. For the 2024 tax year, the maximum income to qualify is $27,621 for a single person or $37,019 for a married couple or head of household.

During the 2023 Montana legislative session, lawmakers passed House Bill 189, sponsored by Rep. George Nikolakakos, R-Great Falls, which expanded the PTAP reduction, so it applied to the first $350,000 of a property’s value, instead of the first $200,000. That market value number will also be adjusted for inflation after each reassessment cycle.

DOR also has the Montana Disabled Veteran Assistance Program, which is similar but specifically serves veterans rated 100% disabled and their surviving spouses.

To enroll in either program for the 2024 tax year – meaning the property tax bills you’ll receive this fall – you’ll need to turn in an application form by April 15. The forms are available online, but you will need to print them out and mail them in or drop them off at a local DOR field office.

Bryce Kaatz, bureau chief of DOR’s Property Assessment Division, said that even if you don’t get your application in by April 15, DOR still encourages anyone who thinks they might be eligible to submit one. The department can still process it and get you enrolled for the following year.

“If you have any questions, you think you're eligible, you can contact our call center, you can contact one of our local field offices located throughout the state,” said Kaatz. “Our folks are more than happy to talk with you.”

Kaatz said the department also has a smaller assistance program that helps people who have held longtime family homes in areas with high land values, particularly resort areas. He estimated only about 160 properties met the thresholds for that.

In addition, there is a property tax exemption for mobile homes or manufactured homes over a certain age, but Kaatz said that is automatic, and qualified residents don’t need to apply.

Also this year, homeowners will be eligible to apply for the second half of the property tax rebate approved in the 2023 legislative session – up to $675 on this year’s property taxes. Applications for that rebate will open up Aug. 15.

Kaatz said last year’s tax rebates gave DOR additional data about who may be eligible for assistance programs like PTAP, and they’re looking at using that data to make targeted outreaches to those people.