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The Montana Department of Revenue has notified Yellowstone County about a $471,753 adjustment they are making in the distribution of taxes for 2011 and 2010. The changes are in regard to errors in tax distributions made by the agency as it managed the tax increment district for South Billings Boulevard.
The errors were pointed out to the Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee of the state legislature, by Billings citizen, Kevin Nelson, in December. The committee found his concerns valid and directed the DOR to make the changes.
Nelson commented on the announcement, at a County Commissioners' meeting, saying that he believed that simply reallocating the money to the different taxing jurisdictions is not what should be done. He said that since the government adjusted mill levies to collect the level of taxes needed in those years, the error amounts to an over-taxation and should be returned to the taxpayers as required by state law. "This was an over payment of taxes by people of this county, when you consider it forced taxpayers to pay higher levies, it shouldn't go to the taxing jurisdictions," said Nelson.
County officials questioned the common sense of making refunds, since the cost of doing so would most often "outstrip" the refunds to the individual taxpayers.
The errors stemmed from the fact that the tax increment finance district included two school districts, with different valuations – one with a low assessment and another with a high assessment. The DOR said that they had dealt with the computations for each district separately. It was found that they needed to combine the taxable valuations, a practice they will follow in the future, according to DOR Director Dan Bucks.
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103