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Who in Montana is most anti-sales tax?

 It's risky to mention sales tax in tax-free Montana.

Who is more against a statewide sales tax: Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat? Or his Republican challenger, Greg Gianforte?

Gianforte insists he’s anti-sales tax. He hasn’t brought up sales tax during his current gubernatorial campaign, other than to say he’s against implementing one statewide. The “zero” in his 406 tax relief plan stands, in part, for “Zero Sales Tax.”

He needs to make that crystal clear because in 2002, when he was CEO of RightNow Technologies, Gianforte told members of the Income Tax Advisory Council that implementing a statewide sales tax could be an “ideal solution” for Montana. He said, "The best solution … would be to replace the current income and capital gains rate with a sales tax." However, he also acknowledged that implementing a sales tax in Montana would likely be “politically untenable.”

Gov. Bullock seems to agree with that assessment. Now that news of Gianforte’s 2002 position is out, the governor has announced his intention to put an amendment permanently banning a statewide sales tax before voters — a move that would make it impossible for legislators to implement such a tax without first repealing the amendment. “Let’s end the debate on a statewide sales tax for good,” he says

Welcome to politics — where you can agree to disagree or even agree while saying you’re disagreeing. Gov. Bullock says looking at what a person has done in the past (like Gianforte’s 2002 remarks) is  “the best way you’re going to know what [they’ll] do in the future.” To which Gianforte Spokesman Ron Catlett replies: “If this was a serious proposal then why does he wait four years to propose it?”

Montana voters rejected a proposed statewide sales tax in 1971 and again in 1993. Yet a handful of small communities dependent on tourism revenues can and do levy a local resort tax on retail sales, food, and lodging, and, from time to time, there is a call for local option sales taxes. In fact, the City of Bozeman is reportedly “hiring a lobbyist to push for local sales taxes during the 2017 legislative session.”

You can’t simplify politics, but you can simplify sales tax. Learn more.

Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.