Democrats remind taxpayers to apply
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Democrats remind taxpayers to apply

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Democrats are holding press conferences across Montana this week to remind homeowners to apply for their $400 tax rebate in the coming weeks.

“Homeowners should begin to take the steps to think about what they are going to do with their

property tax refund,” said Rep. Tim Furey, D-Missoula.

Senate Majority Leader Carol Williams, D-Missoula, emphasized that homeowners must apply to receive the money. The state doesn’t know a taxpayer’s primary residence, or how much taxes they paid on it.

With the state’s billion-dollar surplus, legislators from both parties supported some kind of tax relief. Where Republicans and Democrats differed was in how to achieve that.

Democrats supported Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s push for a one-time property tax rebate. Republicans supported permanent property tax cuts.

Montana Republican Party executive director Chris Wilcox called the Democrats’ series of statewide press conferences “government by gimmick.” The briefings are nothing more than an opportunity for Democrats to begin campaigning for the 2008 election, Wilcox said.

There are 26,500 homeowners in Missoula County, Furey said. If everyone spends their money in Missoula, that’s approximately $10 million for the local economy. There are 73,000 homeowners in all of western Montana, he said, which could mean $29 million trickling back to economies across the region.

Those who are eligible to apply are homeowners whose primary residence was in Montana for at least six months during 2006. The $400 is per household, not per person.

If a person paid less than $400 in property taxes in 2006, they may add up all the property taxes paid in both 2005 and 2004, to reach the $400 maximum.

Homes include multi-unit dwellings and manufactured homes and trailers.

Renters are not included in the $400 rebate. The Democrats proposed a $200 renters tax credit, but the Republicans killed it, said Sen. Dave Wanzenried, D-Missoula.

“There’s still a lot that needs to be done for renters,” Williams said.

In addition to the tax rebate, homeowners can also claim a $130 tax credit when they file for their taxes in April 2008.

While Democrats said they hope all homeowners will take advantage of the $400 rebate, unclaimed money will go back into the general fund.

By CHELSI MOYMissoulian

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