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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Businesses Sue Secretary Of State Over Duplicate License Charges

Secretary of State Office at the Montana Capitol.
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio

Seven businesses are suing Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen alleging her office’s refund policy for overcharged fees is unlawful. Last year, the office charged some businesses multiple times for licensing.

The class action suit asks the Lewis and Clark District Court to order the Secretary of State’s office to refund businesses that were overcharged for license fees, and for the office to change its refund policy.

The complaint says businesses should be notified of duplicate charges and be refunded automatically.

Right now, refunds are not automatic, but available upon written request. The suit says businesses were not notified of the duplicate charges.

Lee Newspapers first reported in late 2020 that a technical issue resulted in 1,200 duplicate transactions of annual business filings on the Secretary of State’s website.The suit claims the office collected $120,000 in duplicate fees in fiscal year 2020.

Former Secretary of State Corey Stapleton was still in office in 2020 with Jacobsen being second-in-command.

The firm Upper Seven Law filed the suit in Helena. Secretary of State Jacobsen did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Shaylee is Montana Public Radio's Capitol reporter. She previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and covered the 2019 legislative session for the University of Montana's Legislative News Service.