Sales Tax
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Posted by Bart Freese (+929) 19 years ago
Well, I admit I have not been paying attention to the legislature -- not close attention anyway. However, even if you were to never pick up a newspaper, turn on a radio, or even call Miss Cleo on the taro readers' hotline -- you could figure that someone would say the s-word. Make that the s-t word. So, where are we on this so far? Anyone pushing for a sales tax? Not that I want to start trouble here (oh, maybe a little to get the keyboards fired up.)

Fill me in and call me too-lazy-to-look-it-up-myself.
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Posted by Bart Freese (+929) 19 years ago
What? No response yet. And, I've had this posted for five minutes alreay. Boy, Sales Tax must not bring out the fight anymore, or we're all getting old.
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Posted by David Schott (+16313) 19 years ago
I'll bite. I haven't been following the Montana Legislature so I don't know the current status of any sales tax bills. I think that Montana should have a sales tax in an effort to draw more revenue from the tourists that visit the state. But, I think they should eliminate or significantly reduce the personal income tax as part of the deal.

I know the sales tax is not popular with many Montanans but I think the state is missing out on a grand opportunity to collect some additional revenue from all those tourists. I think the state should have a statewide car rental tax as well.

Seems like I did hear that they are going to increase the hotel/motel "bed tax". That's probably a good start.

This is just some quick thoughts on the topic. I'm sure the issue is way more complicated than this. For instance, I suspect many businesses will argue that Montana's tax structure is not favorable to businesses -- and adding a sales tax in place of a personal income tax won't please them.

What do you think?

- Dave
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Posted by Donald Richard (+17) 19 years ago
There is a proposal for a sales tax of four per cent that is being bantied about the house or senate I forget which. It is basically a proposal to be put on the ballot of the next general election to see if the people of the state want a sales tax. It would be four per cent and we would eliminate the state income tax. There are two problems with this idea. Number one is nobody is going to vote to tax themselves. There are those who pay very little state income tax and a sales tax would cost them more than they pay now. The second problem is that with the elimination of the income tax and the adding a sales tax would leave the state with less money to run the state. It has been studied two or three times and the result is that we do not have enough tourists to make up the difference of eliminating an income tax or property tax. It is time for us to bite the bullet and realize if and I mean if we want our state to grow and become an economic machine in this great United States we are going to have to keep all the taxes we have now and add the sales tax on top. Ear mark it for growth and economic development and let's get out of the dark ages and move forward.
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Posted by David Schott (+16313) 19 years ago
I did see an article in the Billings Gazette the other day that said they are working on a bill that would more than double the hotel/motel bed tax (from 4% to 9%) and add a 9% statewide car rental tax. In both cases, Montana citizens would be allowed to claim taxes paid as a tax credit on their state income tax. Personally, I think both of these taxes make perfect sense.

Naturally there was an army of people descending on Helena to object. The hotel/motel owners think that visitors will shorten their stays if they have to pay a bigger bed tax. (Do you believe that? I don't.) The car rental owners think that many of their customers are Montanans who would be unfairly punished by the tax... that even though it can be claimed as a tax credit many Montanan's can't afford to pay the money up front. Also they point out that many renters who rent from airport locations are already paying a 10% airport concession tax so the total tax bill would be 19%. Here in Washington State (Seattle/King County area at least) I think the final tax bill on a car rental approaches 35%. Washington ain't afraid to stick it to the tourists. : )

So, there you go. No matter what you do somebody isn't going to be happy.

- Dave
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Posted by Dave Roberts (+1487) 19 years ago
There is no state income tax, personal or corporate in Nevada.

Sales tax runs at 7.25%, they tax *everything* involving tourists (airport, rental cars, bed tax, etc.)

They have a substantial gaming tax, which Montana would probably never rival.

It's interesting (read "annoying") to me that the nearest oil refinery to Las Vegas is over 300 miles away, yet their gas is an average of 30 cents a gallon less than I'm paying in Billings with 3 refineries here.

We're trying to support a state bigger than most 3rd world nations with 1/2 the population of 'Vegas.

We get a miniscule fraction of the tourist traffic they get.

We have more residents over the age of 60 than under 30.

A journeyman roofer in 'Vegas makes $19.23 and hour, I get offers for $14.00 an hour here.

On the flip side, I 've been back home 2 years now and have yet to hear a drive-by shooting.

Bambi strolls through my yard every morning for breakfast.

My nearest neighbor would have to use a 30.06 and be an olympic caliber shot to maim my dog.

My water hasn't been drank 6 times before.

I don't have any idea how we'll get out of the economic rut we're in, or if we ever will. "The company" (Anaconda, et al) set a precedent that's not easy to fix.

Given the choice between the big bucks and fast-lane life of 'Vegas and being a 5th generation Miles Cityan living in Montana, paying through the nose to be here, I think I kinda like it here better.
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Posted by Donald Richard (+17) 19 years ago
We are always ready to stick it to the tourists as if we are not a tourist. I don't travel much on business but an average of once a month. Almost every time I travel I have to spend the evening some where. I pay that bed tax the same as the so called tourist. Once again our tourist industry is large compared to other industries in the state but compared to surrounding states except maybe north dakota our tourist industry is just a drop in the bucket. It is the same with our agriculture industry. One county in Nebraska can produce more money than all of eastern Montana. We are big in area but that is about it. There is not a windfall industry standing by to tax and make us a rich state. It sounds like to me we need to hire competent bookeepers to take care of the state's finances. Here we are almost to the end of the session and everyone is screaming we are broke and our new comptroller for the state a former Custer County District High School Graduate and football star finds seventeen million dollars and maybe there is more he said.
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Posted by Bart Freese (+929) 19 years ago
Well,we're going to have to pay for the new body guard for the governor. I read that in tonight's (4/10/01) Star and didn't know whether to laugh or cringe. Is this a trend that is truly becoming a necessity? If so, oh bother, let's keep our fingers crossed for the Last Best Place.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11277) 19 years ago
Not just a new bodyguard but an $80,000 bodyguard! That's the estimated cost. Sheesh.

What we NEED to is to spend two years carefully evaluating all the possible financing solutions rather than having our lege throw something together in a panic in 90 days. Of course, that would require foresight and committment--not qualities our lege is famous for.

--Amorette
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Posted by David Schott (+16313) 19 years ago
I saw where Governor Martz was in Miles City recently and it made me wonder how she got there. Private plane from Helena? Big Sky Airlines? Drive? Drive herself? Chauffeured limousine? With bodyguard?

I say let the Highway Patrol provide protection to the Governor if/when necessary. I can't believe she needs protection that often.

As far as the legislature taking their time on legislation goes. Don't they meet every other year? And each session lasts... 90 days? Six months? As infrequently as they get together they don't really have the luxury of time. And the next time they meet there will be a whole new crop of 'em.

Of course they could always hold a special session. Which they may have to do anyways to discuss that proposal to put in a $340,000 piece of artwork in the Senate Chamber. : )

- Dave
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