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Montana Republicans seek business tax cuts

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 23, 2013 at 6:51 pm •  Published: January 23, 2013

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Republican leaders pitched their plans Wednesday to cut business equipment taxes and argued that the state's clean energy tax break should be expanded to include fossil fuels.

The business equipment tax cut proposal will compete with one from Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, which is more focused on smaller businesses.

The GOP plan would cut in half, from 3 percent to 1.5 percent, the business equipment tax on the first $10 million of property. It would cost the state about $5 million per year in lost revenue once fully implemented.

Republican Taxation Committee chairman Bruce Tutvedt of Kalispell told the rest of the panel that he hopes the cut would spur the construction of manufacturing plants that can bring good-paying jobs. He said it would be too expensive, about $150 million over two years, to fully eliminate the business equipment tax.

"This is the bite I have decided to take so we can do it," Tutvedt said.

A broad reduction in the equipment tax long reviled by business groups, who argue it is unfair and impedes investment in the state, was a staple of Republican campaigns during election season.

Bullock's proposal would seek to raise the tax-free threshold on business equipment from $20,000 to $100,000, and cost about $6 million per year. He argues that would focus the benefit on the state's smaller employers by eliminating it altogether for 11,000 businesses, and keep it in place for large corporations that can afford it.

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