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Montanans are getting their money back

by Becky Beard
| July 12, 2023 1:00 AM

Nearly all working-age Montanans, more than half the state’s total population, are getting some welcome news this month: the state is sending them money.

Let’s be clear. The money being sent to over 530,000 Montanans is their own money. Montana collected more income taxes, the primary source of revenue for state government, than it needed to fund its obligations during the pandemic recovery year of 2021, leading to a historic budget surplus. The Republican supermajority in the state legislature recognized that that over-collection is working Montanans’ money, not the government’s. So we’re returning it to the people who paid it.

If you paid $1,250 or less in state income taxes in tax year 2021, you’ll be getting 100% of your money back. For married couples who filed jointly, the figure is $2,500. You might even have already received it by the time you’re reading this. If you paid more than $1,250 as an individual or $2,500 as a couple, you’ll get the full rebate amount of $1,250 or $2,500, respectively. If you’re wondering how much you paid when you did your 2021 taxes, look at Line 20 on your 2021 Montana tax return.

If you have questions or want additional information, visit GetMyRebate.mt.gov.

When Republicans won a supermajority in the Legislature, we said our number one goal was providing financial relief to Montanans. These income tax rebates are the first major piece of that relief, and Montanans have Republicans to thank. Only two Democrats, making up only 4% of the Democrats serving in the Legislature, voted to give the people their money back.

While these rebates are one-time-only, I’m proud to have sponsored the bill that permanently cuts income taxes going forward. My Senate Bill 121 cuts the top income tax rate down from 6.5% to 5.9%, while also raising the earned-income tax credit from 3% to 10% to benefit lower-wage earners. The bill will save Montanans about $170 million per year going forward. All Democrats voted against providing this permanent tax relief.

You might hear attacks from Democrats claiming that Republicans’ tax reforms are only benefitting the wealthy, but those talking points don’t make sense for two reasons: most Montanans pay the top income tax rate, and we already cut taxes for the lowest income Montanans. Senator Greg Hertz’s SB 399 from the 2021 legislative session, which goes into effect this upcoming year, removed tens of thousands of the lowest-income Montanans from paying any income taxes at all. Democrats voted against that bill as well.

There are more rebates (on property taxes) coming later this year and next year. I’ll leave that discussion for another time.

For now, when you see your money being returned to your bank account or your mailbox (depending on how you paid your 2021 income taxes), know that Republicans are happy to have overcome Democrats’ opposition to provide this financial relief, and more, to working Montanans.

Republican Sen. Becky Beard of Elliston is a member of the Legislature’s Senate Taxation Committee and former chair of the House Taxation Committee.