Plan to block Charter tax hike passes first test

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Secretary of State's office says Charter Communications may gather signatures for a ballot proposal that aims to reverse a tax hike on the cable, Internet and phone company.

The sponsors have until June 20 to gather 24,175 voter signatures from across the state to place the initiative on November's ballot. That includes 5 percent of voters in each of 34 state House districts.

Charter is asking the voters to reverse a Montana Supreme Court decision that raised the company's taxes from $1.7 million in 2009 to $7.3 million in 2010.

The court upheld a state Revenue Department decision to charge Charter's property at the 6 percent telecommunications services rate instead of the 3 percent cable television rate.

Charter predecessor Bresnan Communications challenged the tax after a 2008 audit.

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