Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Pastor Jay Forseth

Montana non-profits must reapply for their property tax exemption

This is a follow up on last month’s Journey in Faith column regarding a visit I received from the Montana Department of Revenue asking for a copy of our church’s building plans.
I asked if anyone else had received such a visit. To date, I have not heard from a single group who has.
However, new information has come to light that will affect our Stillwater County churches, colleges, camps, veterans organizations, senior centers, youth facilities and on and on.
In the Dec. 1 daily newspaper article the Montana Department of Revenue announced it is requiring all Montana non-profits to reapply for their property tax exemption.
I quote, “The department says a new state law requires owners of tax exempt real property to submit an application by March 1, 2016.”
A new state law? Never heard of it. Neither has either of our state legislators I talked to.
Furthermore, for the privilege of reapplying, there will be a fee assessed per land parcel. I heard there are about 10,000 Montana non-profits--that is a pile of revenue. Many churches own more than one land parcel, so do we have to pay multiple fees? I can only imagine what paperwork will be required as well; building blueprints, legal descriptions, etc.
What isn’t stated is why? Why now, and what is the real end game. I am not a prophet, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to assume this is only the first step of many towards increasing revenue on the backs of so many well-meaning groups that are only interested in the good of our communities.
Non-profits are being directed to www.revenue.mt.gov for more information.