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Capital Gains Tax Bill Fails In Montana State, Reconsideration Likely

A key policy in Governor Greg Gianforte’s plan for tax cuts in Montana narrowly failed in the House Thursday.

Senate Bill 184, also known as the Montana Entrepreneur Magnet Act, would’ve exempted people from paying capital gains taxes on stock sales tied to new businesses with an employee base of at least 30% local residents.

The bill failed on a 49-51 vote. However, lawmakers plan on reconsidering the bill at a later date.

Billings Republican Rep. Barry Usher opposed the policy, saying it could have attracted large marijuana companies to Montana after the state’s recreational cannabis program gets off the ground.

“Any company coming from out of state, if they have savvy lawyers, if they have savvy accountants, especially these marijauna companies, they know how to create entities, and boards and everything else to qualify for a program like this,” Usher says.

Usher was among 24 Republicans, including many of the House’s most conservative lawmakers, who opposed the bill. Six Democrats supported the proposal.

Elliston Republican Becky Beard, who carried the bill in the House, said it would have spurred job and wage growth in Montana.

It’s key to Gianforte’s Montana Comeback Plan, which also includes personal income and business equipment tax cuts. Gianforte this week asked for public comment on another goal for his administration. The governor is looking for recommendations for his task force aimed at reducing state regulations.

Kevin Trevellyan is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report for America statehouse reporter.