As of April 1, two tax simplification bills are still alive at the Montana legislature and both appear to have strong bipartisan support.

It may be surprising to some, but many certified public accountants and tax foundations consider Montana to have one of the most complicated tax codes of the 50 states.

Senate Bill 282, sponsored by Kalispell Republican Bruce Tutvedt, made it out of committee last week with an unanimous vote.

House Bill 581, sponsored by Havre Republican Kristin Hansen, passed its second floor hearing with 67-33 support after three days of hearings, and will likely have its final hearing in the House this week.

"It eliminates most of the credits, all of the deductions, most of the exemptions," said Hansen, describing her bill's changes to the current system. "It fixes the marriage tax penalty in Montana, and it lowers the rate brackets from seven brackets to three brackets. It's really just a very substantial simplification."

Kristin Hansen:

Although Hansen believes her tax simplification measure would be best, she would be happy to see either bill signed into law. She said either bill would bring the Montana tax system more in line with the federal tax system. Hansen said it would provide a much needed "reset."

"If Montana passes Senator Tudtvet's bill, or my bill, everybody is going to be better off," Hansen said. "Simply by starting from that federal taxable income level."

Hansen said that although she fought to keep credits and other complications out of her bill, Montana's energy conservation credit will still be in place by the time the bill reaches its third hearing because of the strong voices of a few members.

The House appropriations committee is scheduled to look at House Bill 581 on Wednesday, April 3.