Tax Reappraisal Lawsuit Okayed for Class Action


The following is a press release from the Montana Farm Bureau Federation:

The Montana Farm Bureau Federation has won their appeal to the Montana Supreme Court overturning a lower court refusal to permit class certification in their tax reappraisal lawsuit against the Montana Department of Revenue.  Initially, in February 2010, the Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF), Lucas Ranch and the Montana Taxpayers Association (Montax) filed a class action lawsuit against the Montana Department of Revenue.  Farm Bureau believed the Montana Department of Revenue failed to correctly calculate phase-in amounts for agricultural properties statewide. The phase-in was supposed to be done over a six-year period but instead, almost the full amount was taxed in the first year. Landowners were encouraged to pay a portion of their taxes under protest.


However, the District Court denied the class action lawsuit, on the grounds that the “putative class lacked sufficient definition.”  MFBF appealed to the Supreme Court whose decision yesterday let the class-action lawsuit stand. The Supreme Court not only reversed the case, but remanded the issues of certifying the class back to the District Court for further consideration.

Montana Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jake Cummins said, “We are very pleased that our board’s decision to appeal has been vindicated and that given the Supreme Court’s guidance we hope Judge Spaulding will now act quickly to right a wrong done to farmers and ranchers by the Montana Department of Revenue that has been allowed to stand for far too long already.”

“This was certainly a win for landowners who have been unfairly taxed,” noted Nancy Schlepp, executive director, Montax. “It means we can continue to forge ahead with the lawsuit. Unfortunately, this is just one step in a long process.”

Cummins hopes a decision on the case is made promptly and landowners will finally know where they stand in regards to land appraisals and taxation.

Source:  Montana Farm Bureau Federation

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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