Gianforte: Replace Montana income tax ‘with a sales tax’

Recording catches New Jersey millionaire lobbying for sales tax as 'ideal solution'

‘The fairest tax is the one you pay and I don’t,’ Gianforte told voters this year

Greg Gianforte, the New Jersey millionaire spending his own money to buy the Governor’s Office, lobbied to replace Montana’s income tax with an unpopular sales tax when he was CEO of RightNow Technologies.

The Montana Democratic Party obtained this public recording of Gianforte testifying during a meeting of former Governor Judy Martz’s Income Tax Advisory Council.

“What I would consider an ideal solution, from a high-tech perspective… would be to replace the current income capital gains rate with a sales tax,” Gianforte told the Council. “I know that there are a few political issues and Constitutional issues, but I didn’t think I’d be fair to come in here and not say that I believe that is the ideal solution—to move to a consumptive tax.”

A statewide sales tax is overwhelmingly unpopular in Montana, as Nancy Keenan, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party, said during a news conference in Helena today.

“A sales tax is an ideal situation for wealthy millionaires like him, but it hurts the rest of Montanans,” Keenan said.  She added that a sales tax particularly “hurts hard-working middle-class Montanans all over the state,” seniors on fixed incomes, Native Americans, and young people.

Earlier this year Gianforte told voters in Culbertson that “the fairest tax is the one you pay and I don’t.”

That makes sense, given Gianforte’s so-called tax “plan” calls for spending Montana’s budget surplus on tax giveaways for millionaires like himself and corporations.

“The only way Greg Gianforte’s tax plan actually pencils out is if you enact a statewide sales tax,” Keenan said.  “It’s now become clear that the ‘four’ in Greg Gianforte’s ‘406 tax plan’ really stands for a four percent statewide sales tax, which is the most you can collect under our Montana Constitution.”

A link to a full recording of Gianforte lobbying Martz’s Income Tax Advisory Council meeting in 2002 is online HERE.  Official minutes from the meeting are online HERE.

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