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HELENA — A left-leaning Helena think tank released a study Wednesday advocating five changes to make Montana’s tax system more progressive.

The Policy Institute study, “Tax Is Not a Four-Letter Word: Ideas for a More Progressive Taxation System in Montana,” features proposals written by some current and former legislators and the institute’s staff.

The Legislature, with Republicans controlling one or both houses, has rejected most of these ideas in recent sessions.

The 32-page report defines a progressive tax as “a tax in which upper-income families pay a larger share of their incomes in tax than do those with lower incomes.”

The institute said a progressive tax structure is the best way to provide tax fairness to all Montanans and the revenue needed to support the “social infrastructure” that makes Montana a great place to live and work.

The five proposals call for:

Increasing the progressivity of Montana’s income tax system, by Sen. Christine Kaufmann, D-Helena.

Eliminating corporate tax havens, by Sen. Ron Erickson, D-Missoula.

Reducing the regressivity of property tax assistance, by Rep. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula.

Repealing the oil and gas tax holiday, by the institute’s Bob Decker, the institute’s former executive director, and Molly Severtson, its current executive director.

Equalizing tax rates of mineral royalty holders and companies, by former Rep. Julie French, D-Scobey.

“This report makes the case for progressive taxation as the fairest way to tax people and provides specific, clear ideas of how Montana can improve its tax system,” Severtson said. 

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