Sep 21, 2017 Voices Of Montana 4 comments

Is It Time For A 3% Montana State Sales Tax ?

Tuesday’s edition (9-19-17) raised a concern on the front page and offers a solution on the opinion page.  The concern is that we have a shortfall of roughly $226 million to meet our budget.  As I understand it, the problem is not a decline in revenues but the growth in the cost of government, the fault I’m sure of both the governor and the legislature; too many grand ideas without serious consideration about how we are going to pay for them.


All is not lost, however, because Alex Boian’s Op/Ed, “Public land users do contribute” offers an obvious solution.  He states that “In Montana, outdoor recreation generates $7.1 billion in consumer spending annually—“.  This seems quite high to me but assuming it is correct, and Montana enacts a general sales tax of 3%, that would yield $213 million in additional revenue, nearly enough to make up our short fall.  Of course, Montana has always rejected a sales tax, but in so doing we are inviting the world to our doorstep for a barbecue, and we are footing the bill.  Seems stupid but that’s the way it is.  The problem, apparently, is that Montanans loath any kind of general sales tax.

Again, however, all is not lost.  If we enact a Montana income tax deduction of 3% based on gross or net income, or some such number, for all Montana’s living in the state for at least, say 9 months of the year, then we should get back most of the sales taxes we paid.  Consider it another reason to continue living in this great state.  Of course, there will always be the usual crop of whining, nay-saying, malcontents that will throw all kinds of darts at this idea, but maybe it’s time we at least take a look at it.

EA Johnson

Box 4246

Butte, MT  59702