Montana New Property Tax Elimination Amendment, CI-105 (2010)

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The Montana Prevent Double Taxation Amendment, also known as CI 105, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in the state of Montana as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved.Approveda The initiative sought to prevent the imposition of a real estate or realty transfer tax. This type of tax was assessed when property changed ownership or real property. The proposal was turned in on December 15, 2009 to the Secretary of State's office for state review. The Montana Association of Realtors submitted their proposal to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch's office in mid-December and was certified to collect signatures for the June 18, 2010 petition drive deadline.

On July 19, 2010, the Montana Secretary of State certified the measure for the ballot, stating that enough signatures were collected.[1][2][3][4]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results

Official results follow:

CI-105 (New Property Tax Elimination)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 259,621 72.62%
No97,89127.38%

Results via Montana Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title that Montana voters saw on the ballot read as follows:[5]

There is no existing state or local tax on transactions that sell or transfer real property in Montana. CI-105 amends the Montana Constitution to prohibit state or local governments from imposing any new tax on transactions that sell or transfer real property, such as residential homes, apartments, condominiums, townhouses, farms, ranches, land, and commercial property, after January 1, 2010.

[ ] FOR amending the Montana Constitution to prohibit state or local governments from imposing any new tax on transactions that sell or transfer real property.

[ ] AGAINST amending the Montana Constitution to prohibit state or local governments from imposing any new tax on transactions that sell or transfer real property.

Constitutional changes

Article VIII of the Montana Constitution was amended by adding a new Section 17 to read:

Section 17. Prohibition on real property transfer taxes. The state or any local government unit may not impose any tax, including a sales tax, on the sale or transfer of real property.[6]

Support

Supporters

  • The Montana Chamber of Commerce voted to endorse the measure, stating that new taxes placed unnecessary burdens on taxpayers, who already paid significant amounts in property and income taxes.[7]

Other organizations who were considered supporters of the measure included:[8]

Montana Association of Realtors®
Montana Stockgrowers Association
Montana Building Industry Association
Montana Bankers Association

More organizations that support the measure can be found here

Political figures

Former Montana legislator and former president of the Montana Association of Realtors Dennis Iverson was a supporter of the amendment, stating: "Ranchers and farmers, homeowners, retirees and small business already pay property taxes. Real estate transfer taxes are nothing more than double taxation of property. We know this is a big undertaking, but the issue is too important to keep fighting bill by bill, session by session. It’s time to put it to rest by letting the people decide whether they want their home to be taxed twice.”[2]

Campaigns

  • The organization Coalition to Prevent Double Taxation formed as the main group to campaign for the measure. The group was made up of numerous local Realtor organizations around the state. According to the campaign's website, "Montanans already pay property taxes. Imposing RETTs would impose a new tax on the same property."[8][9]

Opposition

Opponents

  • Jolene Bach, communications director for Rural Dynamics Inc., stated in an editorial that the measure was an "assault" on the state constitution. Bach argued, "This constitutional amendment is contrary to the very principle of our constitution. We must not surrender nor suspend the Legislature's power over the tax code. This is not really about the tax itself, as there currently is no move for such a tax and, if and when one comes forth, that is why we elect our officials."[10]
  • State Senator Kim Gillan stated, "There is no real estate transfer tax now, so in order for there to be double taxation, there has to be one in existence, and there isn't."[11]

Arguments

  • In the arguments against the measure found in the official state voter information pamphlet, arguments included:[12]
"Montana does NOT have a realty transfer tax. We are one of 13 states without a realty transfer tax. CI-105 would embed in our constitution a prohibition against a tax that does NOT exist."
"Our constitution establishes our most fundamental rights - like the right to bear arms and the right to privacy - and articulates the most fundamental principles of our democracy. Detailed tax policy should be handled through legislation, not the constitution."
"An out-of-state special interest, the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors, has provided 98% of the funding to qualify CI-105 for the ballot and has already spent over $600,000. The Montana Constitution should not be misused to excuse from taxation one special interest group."

Media endorsements

Endorsements of Montana ballot measures, 2010

Opposition

  • The Helena Independent Record recommended a 'no' vote on the measure, stating, "It’s worth noting that there have been multiple proposals for a realty transfer tax introduced in recent legislative sessions. None of those proposals have come close to passage. And that’s fair enough. There is plenty of room for debate on a realty transfer tax. But that debate should be carried out in the domed building along Montana Avenue in Helena, not via yard signs and slick TV ads. A “no” vote on CI-105 will help preserve the integrity of our state constitution and keep this tax issue where it belongs."[13]
  • The Billings Gazette stated their opposition to the measure, arguing, "The argument has been made that the constitution isn’t the place for writing detailed tax policy. We agree. The Legislature is the proper place to revise and debate the complexities of tax policy and to ensure that updated government decisions meet the needs of Montanans. We encourage Montanans to vote against amending the Montana Constitution to prohibit a nonexistent tax. Vote against CI-105."[14]
  • The Bozeman Daily Chronicle stated its opposition to the measure, arguing, "If anything, CI-105 is yet another good argument for a major state tax overhaul that would include a general sales tax with corresponding elimination and reduction in property taxes. Voters should say no to CI-105."[15]

Path to the ballot

See also Montana signature requirements and 2010 ballot measure petition signature costs

Petition circulators had until the June 18, 2010 petition drive deadline to turn in the required 48,673 signatures, since the proposed measure is a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment. Counties had until July 16, 2010 to send verified signatures to the Montana Secretary of State's office. The signatures were then verified and the measure was placed on the ballot.[16][4]

Although the measure was certified for the ballot, the measure, along with C-161, was the subject of about 85 percent of complaints received by the Montana Secretary of State's office dealing with initiative signature gathering.[17]

Similar measures

Similar measures that were being considered in other states follow:

See also

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Additional reading

References

  1. Helena IR.com, "Realtors would prohibit real estate transfer taxes with ballot measure," December 16, 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 Billings Gazette, "Realtors would prohbit real estate transfer taxes," December 15, 2009
  3. Montana Secretary of State, "2010 ballot issues"
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Missoulian, "3 ballot measures qualify for November," July 20, 2010
  5. Montana Secretary of State, "Constitutional Initiative No. 105 (CI-105)"
  6. Montana Secretary of State, "Constitutional Initiative No. 105 (CI-105)"
  7. Big Sky Business Journal, "Montana Chamber Announces Positions for 2010 Election," August 20, 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 Montana Coalition to Prevent Double Taxation
  9. Vote Yes on 105, "Learn More About Real Estate Transfer Taxes and Why They’re a Double Tax on Property"
  10. Great Falls Tribune, "CI 105 is an assault on state's Constitution by a special interest group," September 29, 2010
  11. KBZK.com, "Backers, opponents discuss Montana CI-105," October 28, 2010
  12. Montana Secretary of State, "Voter Information Pamphlet," accessed September 17, 2010
  13. Helena Independent Record, "CI-105 bad use of ballot initiative," October 14, 2010
  14. Billings Gazette, "Gazette opinion: CI-105 proposes bad policy for Montana," October 19, 2010
  15. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, "Chronicle editorial: Editorial board offers endorsements on key initiatives," October 20, 2010
  16. Billings Gazette, "2 initiatives likely qualified for fall ballot; 4 are question marks," June 18, 2010
  17. Great Falls Tribune, "Complaints lodged against initiative backers," July 30, 2010