Jun 19, 2014 8:53 PM by MTN News

Montana Department of Revenue and Charter settle tax dispute

HELENA — The Montana Department of Revenue and Charter Communications reached a settlement Thursday in a long-running property tax dispute with tens of millions of dollars at stake.

The settlement promises to end a couple of lengthy lawsuits between Charter Communications and the state.

Also under the agreement, Charter agreed to drop its efforts to get Initiative I-172, onto the November ballot; that measure, if passed, would have significantly reduced taxes for Charter.

The dispute with Charter dates back to 2007 with Bresnan Communications, which was since bought by cable giant Cablevision and then by Charter.

Mike Kadas, director of the Montana Department of Revenue, called the agreement "an excellent settlement for the state of Montana."

Under the agreement:

- Of $34 million in taxes paid under protest for the 2010 through 2013 tax years, the state will release $25 million to counties and other taxing jurisdictions and refund $9 million back to Charter.

- Charter will also pay an additional $8.3 million in back taxes from 2007 to 2009.

- For the 2014 tax year, Charter's valuation for tax purpose will increase by about 10%.

"So overall, we released a large bundle of money for local jurisdictions and we have acknowledged the two big lawsuits that drove this case," Kadas told MTN News on Thursday evening. "I think it puts us back on a nice even starting point for 2015."

Kadas said that the threat of I-172 did not drive the state to reach the settlement.

Signatures for I-172, and all other ballot initiatives planned for November, need to be submitted to the Secretary of State's office by Friday.


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