My last article looked at Article II, Declaration of Rights and Section 3, Inalienable Rights.  Back then, I focused on the clean and healthful environment and the Held v Montana case.  Now I'll look at another portion of the same section.  Here it is again:

Section 3. Inalienable rights. All persons are born free and have certain inalienable rights. They include the right to a clean and healthful environment and the rights of pursuing life's basic necessities, enjoying and defending their lives and liberties, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and seeking their safety, health and happiness in all lawful ways. In enjoying these rights, all persons recognize corresponding responsibilities.

Clean and healthful environment aside, this is actually a clear and reasonable set of rights.  The key words in this are the verbs ending in "-ing": pursuing, seeking, enjoying, protecting.  The nouns, such as safety, happiness and property, are attainable but not guaranteed.  This works the same way as "the Pursuit of Happiness" in the Declaration of Independence.

Credit: Kichigin, TSM Media Center

The Property Tax

A caller to Montana Talks had questioned this right to property, if said property can be taken away for nonpayment of taxes.  It is a legitimate question.  I'll take a shot at an answer.

I think of property tax as a true wealth tax.  Governing bodies look at the assessed values of homes, farms and ranches, all tangible assets, which can rise with time, then charge taxes based on those values plus the levies and etc.  It may really bother an owner that their tax bill rose but is also means their capital net worth rose.  Hence the phrase "Land rich, cash poor."

If the owner sells that property, they may become very wealthy.  But just like stock sales, the capital gains are subject to tax.

I do believe that we Montanans have the right to acquire and own property, as this section of the Montana Constitution states.  Yet as a reflection of wealth, it is unfortunately subject to tax, as governments in the state have declared, and to levies as voters have accepted.

Seems any discussion of property tax raises the thought of a sales tax.  I swear the two subjects are now joined at the hip.  Here's my take on it.

For anyone struggling with property taxes, I strongly recommend including this tax in your monthly budget.  Set a little money aside with each receipt of income for the property tax.  Perhaps a visit to a financial advisor may yield workable options.  If delinquent on the tax, maybe consult with a bank for a mortgage or equity loan, then pay that sucker back as soon as humanly possible.

Think this wealth tax is aggravating?  Wait 'til bank accounts and investments are included.  Suddenly we may wish for a Robin Hood against the tax-collecting King John and his Sheriff of Nottingham.

Vintage Photos Of Montana

It's hard to imagine what Yellowstone National Park would look like in black and white. We are so used to seeing the colors that make it one of America's favorite travel destinations. Jezel Doughert's grandmother passed away and like many of us do, she spent hours going through years and years of history, from old yearbooks to news clippings, to pictures. Jezel sent me a piece of history that, if not for her, I wouldn't be able to share with you.

Gallery Credit: Megan Shaul

The Best New House Listings For Sale in Montana Vol 4

Montana has nothing but beauty all around, from its natural landscapes to its developed homes. These 5 listings for sale are sure to catch your eye and show you why Montana real estate is the best in the biz.

Gallery Credit: Devon Brosnan

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