REMAX of Bigfork

Appealing your taxes

The appraisal cycle in Montana is now every 2 years for most properties (still 6 years for properties classified as “Forest”).  Tax assessments are mailed out annually and usually appear sometime in the Spring, however in 2015 many didn’t receive their assessments until July.  We routinely receive phone calls from property owners (most on waterfront properties who saw the most changes) wishing to appeal.

IMPORTANT:  There is only a 30 day window to appeal your taxes.

Appeal your real estate assessment in Montana – Use Montana AB-26 Form for 2015

This form must be used within 30 days of receiving your assessment.   You’ll need to provide, with this form, the comparable properties on which you are basing your appeal which closed during the same time period assessments were done.  The last time assessment was done with data between July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.   Please phone us to assist you with available sales data for this time period (or see Sales on Flathead Lake below).   Using sales during this time period meets the requirement stated on Page 2 of AB-26 by providing documentation of “Comparable property sales/listings within six months of the January 1, 2014 valuation date”.  Alternately if you purchased the property you can show the actual sales price, or if you had a paid appraisal done, you could use that too as documentation.

Since most of our calls are from Flathead Lake homeowners, here below is a link to the sales on navigable Flathead Lake property from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 :

RESIDENTIAL SALES on Flathead Lake

VACANT LAND SALES on Flathead Lake

(If these links say “Expired”, please phone or email a note to us!)

Later in the Year …..  Paying your taxes in November or May “Under Protest” –   By the time November rolls around, you still may not have heard whether your appeal was granted.  You still have to pay your taxes!  When paying, you must include the form below for either Flathead County or Lake County appropriately with your payment.  This is an important form to use in order to have a refund this year IF your assessment is ultimately reduced.  If you do not send in this form with your tax payment, then in the event your assessment is actually reduced, you won’t get the refund for this year…You would for subsequent years, but not this one.  Below are the Flathead and Lake county forms.  If you live in another county in Montana you should call the Treasurer’s office in that county to see if they have created a form.  If they have not, then include the information required on these forms as it is the same.

Flathead County form
Lake County form

At the bottom of the page is a bit of a confusing statement: “..if no action is taken within 90 days of the date of the notice of taxes due…” – What this means is that you had to have done one of the 5 actions noted on this form (A-E in Lake County or 1-5 in Flathead County)  Most people will have filed the AB-26 form at the top of the list.  If you have done that, then you have fulfilled  the action requirement.  If you didn’t file the AB-26 form, then you’ll need to do one of the other 4 action items within the 90 day timeframe to have a valid protest.

If you fill out this form and then never do any of the 5 action items then your protest is invalid and “the treasurer shall disperse the amount paid..to the appropriate fund”…. This means it will go into the state coffers and you won’t see any refund.

Also remember you cannot protest the full amount of your taxes (because there has to be some taxes) so you’ll need to decide what portion is “unfair”.  This should correspond with how you presented your case on the AB-26 form.  Good luck to all of you.

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The Hollinger Team

Can we answer any questions for you?

With a lifetime of experience living here in Montana's Flathead Valley, we can answer any question you might have—we've got a ton of real estate expertise, but we can also help with the practical stuff too, like where the best fishing spots are, when ski season begins, and what to do if a moose wanders into your property.

Give us a call, or drop us a note, we'd love to introduce ourselves...
(406) 837-5531 | email: Scott, Diana, Kellie, Drew, or Dane

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