Overview of Montana Taxes
Montana has relatively low taxes on residential real estate. The state’s average effective property tax rate is 0.84%, lower than the national average of 1.08%.
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To calculate the exact amount of property tax you will owe requires your property's assessed value and the property tax rates based on your property's address. Please note that we can only estimate your property tax based on median property taxes in your area. There are typically multiple rates in a given area, because your state, county, local schools and emergency responders each receive funding partly through these taxes. In our calculator, we take your home value and multiply that by your county's effective property tax rate. This is equal to the median property tax paid as a percentage of the median home value in your county.
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Jennifer Mansfield, CPA, JD/LLM-Tax, is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 30 years of experience providing tax advice. SmartAsset’s tax expert has a degree in Accounting and Business/Management from the University of Wyoming, as well as both a Masters in Tax Laws and a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. Jennifer has mostly worked in public accounting firms, including Ernst & Young and Deloitte. She is passionate about helping provide people and businesses with valuable accounting and tax advice to allow them to prosper financially. Jennifer lives in Arizona and was recently named to the Greater Tucson Leadership Program.
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Montana Property Taxes
Buying a house in Billings? Missoula? Helena? If so, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the Montana property tax system. Montana has relatively low taxes on residential real estate. The state’s average effective property tax rate is 0.84%, lower than the national average of 1.08%.
In part, rates in Montana are low because the system is structured to reduce the burden on homeowners. The taxable value (the value on which your taxes are based) for an owner-occupied residential property is only a small percentage of the property’s market value. Commercial and business property also receive big exemptions.
If you are buying a house in Montana, it’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the details of getting mortgage in the Big Sky State. You can find this information, along with details about rates on our Montana mortgage guide.
A financial advisor in Montana can help you understand how homeownership fits into your overall financial goals. Financial advisors can also help with investing and financial plans, including taxes, homeownership, retirement and more, to make sure you are preparing for the future.
How Montana Property Taxes Are Calculated
Property taxes in Montana are based on your total tax rate and the taxable value of your home. Taxable value is based on your home’s market value, but the state of Montana calculates it using a somewhat complicated formula.
First, residential property is reappraised by state assessors once every two years. (Reappraisal occurred every six years prior to 2015.) The goal of the reappraisal is to match the current market value for each property. If the reappraised value is greater than the previous value, the difference is phased in over the course of the two-year reappraisal cycle. That means there is a slight lag between your current market value and the value on which your taxes are based.
Taxes on residential properties are also limited by the fact that Montana only levies taxes on a small percentage of a property’s market value. This rate changes annually and the most recent rate is 1.35%. So for a home with a market value of $100,000, the taxable value is only $1,350. Your total state and local property tax millage rates (described in the next section) apply to that $1,350.
Montana Property Tax Rates
Cities, counties and school districts largely determine tax rates in Montana. The state also collects statewide taxes to support education. Tax rates are expressed in mills, or as millage rates. A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value, while a millage rate is a mill expressed as a decimal. For example, 1 mill is equivalent to a millage rate of 0.001.
For example, the statewide taxes are 95 mills for public schools and another 6 mills for higher education.
While your tax bill will reflect a millage rate, a good way of comparing tax rates from one area to the next is through effective tax rates. This is equal to annual property taxes paid as a percentage of home value. The table below shows average effective property tax rates for every county in Montana, along with their median home values and median annual property tax payments.
|County||Median Home Value||Median Annual Property Tax Payment||Average Effective Property Tax Rate|
|Lewis and Clark||$220,600||$2,110||0.96%|
You can also learn more about your mortgage payments with our mortgage loan calculator.
Yellowstone County is located in central Montana and contains the city of Billings. Tax rates in Yellowstone County are near the state average, as its average effective tax rate is 0.89%. However, it has a moderately high $210,500 median home value, which causes its $1,867 median annual property tax payment to rank as fifth highest in the state despite a decent effective rate.
The median annual property tax payment in Missoula County is $2,577, the highest in the state. The city of Missoula has some of the highest taxes of Montana’s largest cities, with total mill levies of more than 700 mills. Missoula County's average effective tax rate is 0.99%.
Located in northwest Montana along the western boundary of Glacier National Park, Flathead County has some truly beautiful areas. It also has relatively modest property taxes. The average effective property tax rate in the county is 0.81%, slightly lower than the state average (0.84%).
Gallatin County stretches from the tristate border with Idaho and Wyoming up to the city of Bozeman. It contains parts of the Gallatin National Forest and Yellowstone National Park.
The median home value in Gallatin County is $303,700. That makes the county the most valuable of Montana 56 total counties.
So while Gallatin County’s property tax rates are slightly lower than the state average, homeowners in the county still pay among the highest property taxes in Montana in dollar terms. The typical Gallatin County resident has a property tax bill of $2,495, placing the county as the second most expensive behind only Missoula County.
The average effective property tax rate in Cascade County is 0.93%, 15th highest in the state. At that rate, the annual property taxes on a home worth $168,100 (the median home value in the county) would be $1,563.
Lewis and Clark County
The sixth most populous county in Montana, Lewis and Clark County has property tax rates slightly higher than the state average. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 0.96%, compared to the 0.84% state average.
If you’re buying a home in Montana, but don’t like paying property taxes, Ravalli County may be the place for you. The county’s average effective property tax rate of 0.65% ranks as the 14th lowest in the state.
Silver Bow County
The average effective property tax rate in Silver Bow County is 1.08%, good for seventh in Montana. A homeowner whose home is worth $120,000 would pay $1,296 annually at that rate.
Situated at the southern end of Flathead Lake in northwest Montana, Lake County is the ninth most populous county in Montana. The county’s average effective property tax rate of 0.76% is almost 0.10% less than the 0.84% statewide average.
The typical homeowner in Lincoln County pays $1,289 annually in property taxes. That is around $500 less than the state median of $1,756. The average effective property tax rate here is 0.73%.
Property Tax: Which Counties are Getting the Best Bang for Their Buck
SmartAsset’s interactive map highlights the places across the country where property tax dollars are being spent most effectively. Zoom between states and the national map to see the counties getting the biggest bang for their property tax buck.
Our study aims to find the places in the United States where people are getting the most for their property tax dollars. To do this we looked at school rankings, crime rates and property taxes for every county.
As a way to measure the quality of schools, we analyzed the math and reading/language arts proficiencies for every school district in the country. We created an average score for each district by looking at the scores for every school in that district, weighting it to account for the number of students in each school. Within each state, we assigned every county a score between 1 and 10 (with 10 being the best) based on the average scores of the districts in each county.
For each county, we calculated the violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents.
Using the school and crime numbers, we calculated a community score. This is the ratio of the school rank to the combined crime rate per 100,000 residents.
We used the number of households, median home value and average property tax rate to calculate a per capita property tax collected for each county.
Finally, we calculated a tax value by creating a ratio of the community score to the per capita property tax paid. This shows us the counties in the country where people are getting the most bang for their buck, or where their property tax dollars are going the furthest.
Sources: US Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey, Department of Education, Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Police or Justice Department websites