Rep. Kerry White Joins Growing Number of Pro-Statewide Sales Tax Republicans in Legislative Leadership

Sam Offerdahl2019, News

Helena— In a House Taxation Committee hearing this morning, Rep. Kerry White (R-Bozeman) spoke in favor of his bill to create a statewide sales tax– a bill that would raise the cost of goods Montanans use every day.

White joins other Republican legislators in leadership who have expressed a desire to impose a statewide sales tax. Last year, Republican Senate President Scott Sales expressed interest in adopting a statewide sales tax.

Speaker of the House Rep. Greg Hertz also voted in favor of a similar sales tax bill White introduced in the 2017 session. White and Sales join U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, who has also expressed support for a sales tax.

White is pushing his bill even though Montanans have resoundingly and repeatedly voted against previous attempts to create a statewide sales tax. In 1971, Montanans voted down the sales tax measure 70 percent to 30 percent, and in 1993, the initiative failed 75 percent to 25 percent.

In 2011, a Lee Newspapers poll found that “Montanans remain strongly against a sales tax.”

White’s bill would create a statewide sales tax of 2.5 percent on everyday goods, while eliminating the property tax that remains on certain kinds of properties.

“These repeated attempts to create a statewide sales tax go against the wishes of Montanans who have voted it down time and again,” said Monica Lindeen, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party. “White’s sales tax plan would cut taxes for out-of-state millionaires while raising the cost of everyday items Montana families need, including the diapers, clothes and school supplies you buy for your kids. Forcing working Montanans to pick up the tab for the wealthiest among us is no way to legislate.”

Replacing Montana’s property tax with a statewide sales tax shifts the tax burden away from the ultrawealthy and onto the backs of working Montanans. “Sales taxes inevitably take a larger share of income from low- and middle-income families than from rich families,” according to a study from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy.

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