3 Things You Can Do: on Taxes

You can build a stronger community, a little at a time. Here’s three things you can do this week, about taxes edition.

1: Something to Say: Fair Taxes

Our platform declares that we seek a progressive, broad-based, equitable tax system that reflects and enhances our changing economy and adequately supports a full range of quality public services and public education. We believe in being fiscally responsible while promoting quality of life and equality of opportunity for all our citizens.

By more than a 3-to-1 margin, Americans believe that upper income people and corporations are paying too little, and favor increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and large corporations.

Property tax, specifically, has been on many minds in Montana since the last year’s bills were received. To recap:

In November 2022, the Department of Revenue warned the state would see an historic property tax increase.

During the 2023 legislative session, Democratic legislators proposed solutions that would have provided much-needed property tax relief, but the Republican-controlled legislature and governor’s office refused to pass a permanent solution that would help homeowners, choosing instead to pass tax cuts for the wealthy.

Gianforte tried to tout the one-time checks the state sent to homeowners, but for many it didn’t come close to offsetting the new increase for even one year.

Now, many Montanans are facing tough decisions about their future in the state, 49 counties are preparing to send out supplemental tax bills, and some retired homeowners are even forced to go back to work to pay their property taxes.

2: Something to Do: Start with an Agreement

Americans think that taxes are unfair, and you certainly agree that tax laws have been engineered to unfairly benefit the rich and special interests. So don’t defend taxes, defend tax fairness.

When talking about taxes, don’t say “tax relief” or “taxes are a necessary evil”. Instead, talk about:

  • Tax fairness
  • Tax giveaways and tax loopholes
  • Private tax subsidies
  • Rigged tax system

Don’t say tax relief because it frames taxes as an affliction in need of a remedy. The problem is not the existence of taxes, it is that federal, state, and local taxes are riddled with giveaways and loopholes for the politically powerful. You can also call them private tax subsidies. Whatever you do, don’t defend the unpopular tax system. And don’t begin with a raft of statistics either. Start at a place of agreement, and then explore ideas for creating more fair system for Montanans.

3: Something to Join

Participating in local civic events are a great way to meet your neighbors, exchange ideas, and help influence your government more than a vote by itself can accomplish.

This week, in addition to the the usual democratic social events the Billings City Council and Laurel City Council are holding their regular meetings, as well as a variety of city community boards.

Check out the 3 Things calendar for times, locations and agendas of what’s going on this week. When you find a board or group that interests you, it’s good practice to read up on some basic Roberts Rules of Order (pdf), as well as the meeting agenda. Then observe how the meeting proceeds a few times to determine how you’d like to get more involved.

This is part of our weekly newsletter, “3 Things You Can Do” to help you build a stronger community through information on issues and opportunities to create connection in your neighborhood, on your own time. Each newsletter includes:

  • Something to talk about: facts about a topic or issue that impacts our local community
  • Something to do: a prompt for a small gesture to get out and connect with your family, friends and neighbors
  • Something to join: opportunities to participate or lead in your local community

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36th Annual Harry S Truman Democratic Dinner

Enjoy an evening of great conversation, fun prizes, and celebration of our Democratic values a our annual fundraiser dinner and auction!