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Montana 2021 Legislature

Tax Break Bills Draw Support from Business and Agriculture Organizations

 Lew Jones, maskless, speaks into a microphone at a lectern labeled "Room 152."
Austin Amestoy
University of Montana Legislative News Service
Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, introduces House Bill 252 to members of the Montana House Taxation Committee Tuesday.  The bill -- part of Gov. Greg Gianforte’s tax policy changes -- would allocate tax credits to businesses to help pay tuition costs for employee trades education. More than two dozen people testified in support of the measure, many representing labor organizations and touting the bill as critical to drawing younger, high-skilled laborers to Montana.

HELENA -- Two bills promising tax breaks for businesses drew widespread support during a Montana House of Representatives committee hearing Tuesday.

House Bill 303 would increase the exemption for the business equipment tax from $100,000 to $200,000. Montana Department of Revenue Director Brendan Beatty said it would allow business owners to reinvest the savings in their communities.

“Every time that dollar that didn’t go to Helena gets recycled in our communities, it adds to the tax base, keeps our local jobs and keeps the economy moving,” Beatty said.

The House Taxation Committee also heard testimony Tuesday on House Bill 252, which promises tax credits for businesses of up to $2,000 per employee to cover trade school tuition for employees.

Austin Trunkle of Big Sky Economic Development spoke in support of the bill, saying supporting trades is essential, especially to help Montana recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Montana must remain competitive in developing, training and retaining our state’s workforce, and we see House Bill 252 doing just that,” Trunkle said.

Both bills are part of Republican Governor Greg Gianforte’s plan to improve Montana’s economy.

Austin Amestoy is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation. He can be reached at austin.amestoy@umontana.edu.