HELENA, Mont. – As a top priority for Montana families, Governor Gianforte’s proposal to reform the state’s business equipment tax to help small businesses, as well as family farms and ranches, won broad support in a legislative hearing this morning.
House Bill 212, sponsored by Rep. Josh Kassmier, R-Fort Benton, would reduce taxes for Montana small business owners, family farmers and ranchers by exempting them from the business equipment tax between $300,000 and $1 million.
Montana’s business equipment tax forces businesses, including family farms and ranches, to divert resources they invest in their operations and create jobs to pay taxes on the equipment and machinery they need to operate.
A business equipment tax imposes a costly compliance burden, requiring businesses to record and report their inventory to the state each year.
By reducing the business equipment tax burden on Montanans, this bill encourages business investment and encourages job creation.
In the year In 2021, the governor worked with Rep. Casmier to increase the tax exemption on business items from $100,000 to $300,000.
Together, these reforms will eliminate the business equipment tax burden for more than 5,000 small businesses, farms and ranches.
Many testified in support of the bill before the committee this morning.
Montana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Oher: “From neighborhood print shops to farms and ranches, lowering taxes on business-essential equipment allows those businesses to reinvest in their success and drive economic development for their local communities. Nearly 5,000 Montana businesses will benefit from reduced business equipment taxes, which the Montana Chamber of Commerce It is a top priority and we applaud the approach Governor Gianforte is taking to grow Montana’s economy.
Rhonda Wiggers, Montana State Director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses: Over 4,000 small businesses in the state of Montana will be directly affected by this. This will mean businesses no longer need to fill out this form. They really appreciate this bill, and they appreciate the Governor’s office’s efficiency in taxing and reducing taxes.
Brad Griffin, president of the Montana Retail Association: “On behalf of Montana dealers, retailers and restaurateurs, we are proud to support increasing the $1 million in business equipment tax exemptions. A tax cut for Montana’s small businesses, this proposal will help protect their bottom lines, invest in their operations and create more jobs.”
Carrie Hegreberg, Montana Bankers Association President and CEO: “Banks themselves don’t pay much taxes on business instruments, but they support tens of thousands of businesses in the states where they pay these taxes. Many small businesses, farms and ranches are experiencing sticker shock when it comes to refinancing loans. This bill will help some small businesses to ease the pressure that inflation is putting not only on the cost of goods they buy and the labor they pay, but also on their financial costs.
Montana Farm Bureau Federation President Cindy Johnson: “Farmers and ranchers – members of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation – appreciate Governor Gianforte’s commitment to making Montana more business-friendly. HB 212 allows and encourages farmers and ranchers to invest in equipment, making their family operations more productive and efficient.
Trigg Koch, past president of the Montana Grain Growers Association: “As producers, we need a way to keep our food cheap, which is a way to pay less tax and keep up with the times.”
Krista Lee Evans on behalf of the Montana Agribusiness Association and the Montana Grain Elevator Association: “By reducing the amount of business equipment tax we have to pay, this will free up more money to invest in our businesses and increase innovation and diversity. This is a fantastic opportunity not only for our businesses but also for the manufacturers.”
Sarah Converse, executive director of the North Central Montana Economic Development District: “The business equipment tax exemption benefits the agriculture sector and small businesses. These reforms are a major step forward in supporting the business economy, making Montana more competitive, and reducing the tax burden on Montanans.”
Dan Brooks, Billings Chamber of Commerce Director of Business Advocacy: “One of the Billings Chamber’s priorities is to reduce the cost of doing business in Montana, and we have been longtime supporters of reducing business equipment taxes. In Yellowstone County, we have approximately 502 entities with business equipment tax liability in 2022, so raising the exemption threshold to $1 million would fully exempt more than half of these entities. We greatly appreciate the Governor’s focus on reducing the cost of doing business in Montana.
Kalispell Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lorraine Clarno: We’ve identified more than 120 thriving and growing manufacturers in our community, and we want to allow more resources to continue this and create more high-paying jobs. We ask that you support this opportunity to make Montana more competitive with neighboring states.
Jennifer Hensley on behalf of Fidelity Diagnostics: “[Fidelity Diagnostics Laboratory] It employs 35 highly trained, highly paid, highly educated individuals, and has $1.8 million in sophisticated and scientific equipment. This will go a long way in helping them hire more people and help them expand their business more predictably.
Henry Kriegel, Americans for Prosperity-Montana Legislative Liaison: “At Americans for Prosperity, we’re all about removing barriers to success…We see this tax on business tools as a barrier, and we want it removed. We see this bill as a step in the right direction to allow business owners to keep their hard-earned income and invest it back into their businesses to create more value in their communities and provide a quality service or product.