The result of Bresnan Communications, LLC v. State Dept. of Revenue significantly increased Bresnan’s tax bill by reclassifying the company’s “cable television system” property as “telecommunication service company” property. The new classification was a result of Bresnan expanding its operations into phone and internet services. This decision was put in the public spotlight when Charter Communications (“Charter”), a Connecticut-based company that bought Bresnan Communications, sponsored Initiative 172. If passed, the initiative would have essentially reversed the Montana Supreme Court decision by changing the property tax rates for companies, like Charter, who provide “physically bundled” television, phone and internet services. The result Bresnan sought through a law suit, and Charter sought through the initiative was the same; both wanted to realize the benefits of their newly expanded operations without facing the costly tax consequences.
Brianne McClafferty, Case Note, You Can't Have Your Cake and Eat It Too: Tax Classifcation and Bresnan Communications, LLC v. State Department of Revenue, 75 Mont. L. Rev. Online 23, https://scholarship.law.umt.edu/mlr_online/vol75/iss1/6.