Oppose HB 391: Fees on Nonprofit Property

February 6, 2023 / Comments Off on Oppose HB 391: Fees on Nonprofit Property

Policy News


Legislature Heats Up

This week we are issuing our first call to action of the session. The hearing on HB391 takes place Wednesday, February 8 at 9:00 a.m. in House Taxation, Room 172. 

HB391: Require Local User Fees on Exempt Property

HB391, brought forward by Billings Representative Sherri Essmann, would require local user fees on certain exempt property. The bill is similar to repeated past attempts to levy fees or taxes on nonprofits. In this case cities and counties would both be mandated to assess user fees on certain tax-exempt organizations, including churches, museums, and affordable housing. Read the bill text to see if you are on the list of nonprofit types that would be assessed – but even if your organization is not, we hope you will consider taking action to defend your fellow nonprofits.

We ask you to join MNA in reaching out to members of the House Taxation Committee to OPPOSE the bill for five good reasons: 

  1. It doesn’t make sense to increase revenues in the name of community safety by taxing the organizations that provide safety net services like affordable housing, disability and mental health services and senior services. 
  2. Ironically, the bill proposes user fees akin to property taxes on nonprofits at a time when legislators are also proposing across the board income tax cuts and property tax refunds. 
  3. The bill is arbitrary, including some nonprofits while excluding others with no rationale provided. 
  4. Local government entities would be forced to assess legislature-mandated fees. 
  5. All fees would be calculated based on square footage (sf) of property improvements, instead of assessed value. Improvements means the “buildings, structures, improvements, and alterations now constructed or at any time in the future constructed or placed upon the Land.” This means the fees on an empty 2000 sf shed would be the same as fees on a 2000 sf community center with a commercial kitchen.

What you can do:

1) Most important, if you or someone in your circle has a relationship with a legislator on the House Taxation Committee, or is in that legislator’s district, please reach out today to ask for a “no” vote on this bill. Borrow as much of our language as you’d like.

2) Even if you don’t know a legislator on the Committee but this bill would impact the mission of your community, testify remotely, in person, or reach out with written testimony to Committee members explaining how this bill would impact your work, which already supports community safety with human and financial resources.

P.S. MNA’s strength is in its membership. Even if HB391 doesn’t directly impact the nonprofit you serve, it will impact the nonprofit community as a whole when some nonprofits are required to pay fees and others are not. Let’s pull together on this one. 

Bill Watch

HB383 Establish the Hunters and Anglers Community Fund. This bill would create a grant fund for rural communities via a check-off box on the hunting/fishing license application. Hearing is scheduled for Thursday, February 9, 3:00 PM in House Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Room 172. MNA Supports.

HB238 Provide for the Best Beginnings Scholarship Program. HB238 was heard on January 19. The bill has not been tabled. MNA is monitoring.

SB222 Establish the Montana Individual Freedom Act would require that certain trainings in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion not be required as a condition of employment for State of Montana employees and all contractors for the State of Montana. Countless nonprofits have contracts with the state and would be impacted by this bill. MNA is closely monitoring and encourages nonprofits with state contracts to read the language or watch the hearing.

LC2565 Renew Montana Charitable Endowment Tax Credit
The Montana Endowment Tax Credit (METC) was not up for renewal until 2025. However, Montana Community Foundation and Montana Nonprofit Association are leading an effort to have the credit renewed this year until 2030 along with a request to double the maximum size of the credit. For more information on the METC, go here. The bill is not drafted yet but we want you to know it’s coming.

Dark blue background image with text No on HB 391.

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