Making tourists pay

Montana State Roundup

Published September 1, 2006  | September 2006 issue

Billings officials want to expand the state's resort tax to apply to tourism-oriented purchases in the Magic City and just about every other community in Montana.

Under present law, only cities of fewer than 5,000 can enact a resort tax, and tourism must account for a "major portion" of local economic activity. Towns that collect voter-approved resort taxes include West Yellowstone and Red Lodge. Draft legislation being discussed by elected officials and business leaders in the Billing area would allow communities of any size that receive "a portion" of their business revenue from tourism to levy a tax on lodging, restaurant meals and other typical purchases by tourists.

Yellowstone County's Economic Development Authority believes that the 2007 Legislature would be more likely to amend the resort tax than approve a municipal sales tax. The 2005 Legislature shot down more than a dozen sales tax bills.

Phil Davies