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Lucas Ranch, Inc. v. Montana Dept. of Revenue

Lucas Ranch, Inc. v. Montana Dept. of Revenue, 2015 MT 115 (April 28, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.; Rice, J., concurring; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court correctly interpreted § 15-7-111, MCA, governing revaluation of agricultural land.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: The Department of Revenue began reappraising Montana agricultural properties in 2009. Prior to that, it relied on self-reporting by landowners. During a six-year cycle, any increases in value from the previous cycle must be accounted for. The legislature provided for the phase-in of increases using the current full market value, as defined by regulation, and the value before reappraisal (VBR). If the increase was due to market changes, the Department uses the unadjusted 2002 base year value as the VBR; if the increase is due to non-market changes, the Department calculates a new VBR.…