The Gallatin County Commission has canceled hundreds of thousands of dollars in delinquent property tax debt, lifting a burden off many residents living in mobile homes throughout Bozeman and Gallatin County.
The county commission voted unanimously last on two resolutions to cancel property taxes that have been delinquent for over five years. The resolutions were separated by real property taxes — which apply to property taxes on homes — and personal property taxes, or taxes on mobile homes.
The grand total of cancelled delinquent property taxes — which includes real property, mobile homes and other personal property, like equipment — comes to just over $300,000. Mobile homes make up for just over $126,000 of that total.
Gallatin County Treasurer Jennifer Blossom spent months auditing and determining what people were on payment plans — actively trying to cut into their debt — and those who had downright disappeared. She said during Tuesday’s meeting that one exciting part of the process was that the commission was willing to entertain cancelling mobile home taxes going back as far as 2003, and ending in the 2015 tax year.
“I think you’ll be helping at least a hundred different taxpayers when you take care of this and clean these out,” Blossom said at the commission meeting. “This will provide some relief for the folks that are still paying back that fund, and will help them get caught up.”
Gallatin County Commissioner Joe Skinner said at the meeting, “It’s one small thing that we can do as county government to make that a little easier for those people, to keep them in their home and make it a little easier to stay in their home.”
Property taxes are assessed every two years, and the most recent assessment has seen the market value of mobile homes skyrocket in Gallatin County, increasing by as much as 40%. But, Blossom said in an interview, that does not mean that mobile home owners will see their taxes increase by 40 percent.
Separately, mobile homes in the past had not been considered as part of the yearly delinquent property tax cancellation, she said. Because of that, the dollar amount with this year’s cancellation is higher than usual.
Commissioner Scott MacFarlane said in an interview that people with over five years of tax delinquency were likely to not succeed in ever paying it back.
“It seems like the reasonable thing to do, especially for the only affordable housing we have in the county,” MacFarlane said. “And it’s getting less affordable by the year.”