Freeze property taxes

| October 28, 2020 1:00 AM

Montana long time residents are due for a fright next year if property tax assessments follow the current insane real estate market trends.

A recent listing in Whitefish at $1.8 million has been assessed at $330,000 or less in the past. One friend expressed concern over their home they bought for $350,000 having a neighboring home with 2020 assessed value of $443,000 sold this year, in a bidding war and bought sight unseen, for over $900,000.  

Nearly every current Whitefish listing for existing homes are nearly double their real property assessed value for 2020. A tax bill doubling would be crippling for so many of our long time residents. Six states offer property tax freezes focused mostly on helping the elderly remain in their homes.  

I think it is time for a reassessment of property tax and how the assessments and taxation occur. Perhaps it is time for us to demand for our state legislators and our county commissioners follow the tax policy that they love to embrace to gain our vote and start discussing and implementing a program to freeze property taxes.  

I personally believe that property taxes should be set at time of purchase for the lifetime of ownership. Any increases should be limited to inflation based. If nothing else, an emergency ordinance to freeze property taxes for a few years will give time for our market to settle and protect our residents from a major surprise in 2021.

Grant Hughes, Whitefish