Gateway Gazette

Alberta Entrepreneurs Deserve Property Tax Fairness

 

CFIB study reveals commercial property tax rates still almost two and a half times residential rate

CALGARY – (Monday) the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released Entrepreneurs Deserve Property Tax Fairness, a report which analyzes residential and commercial property tax rates levied by Alberta’s 86  municipalities with populations greater than 5,000 from 2003 to 2014, the most recent data available province-wide. Findings show commercial property owners are still paying almost two and a half times what a residential owner pays, based on the same assessed value of property.

“Many local governments are currently deliberating municipal budgets and the property tax hikes that seem to inevitably come along with it. Unfortunately, far too few municipal governments seem to be taking Alberta’s current economic climate into consideration. There is only so much independent business owners can take on the chin before they reach a breaking point”, says Amber Ruddy, Director Provincial Affairs, Alberta.

The property “tax gap” is the differential between commercial and residential property tax mill rates.  Overall, the tax gap Alberta-wide held steady at 2.43 in 2014 down slightly from 2.45 in 2013. The report also pays special attention to Alberta’s 18 cities.

Calgary and Edmonton have the most work to do with gaps of 3.73 and 2.65 respectively.  While Calgary has a bigger gap, Edmonton residents and businesses pay substantially more on the same assessed value.

Cities

Municipality Tax Gap Municipal Commercial Taxes ($) Municipal Residential Taxes ($) Provincial Rank (1=Worst)
Calgary* 3.73 1,069 375 13
Edmonton 2.65 1,470 554 26
Lethbridge 2.44 1,828 751 29
Wetaskiwin 2.28 1,966 863 32
Medicine Hat 2.25 1,364 605 33
Wood Buffalo, Regional Municipality of 2.22 402 181 34
Red Deer 2.04 1,222 599 40
Cold Lake 1.96 1,162 594 44
Fort Saskatchewan 1.87 900 481 48
Airdrie 1.85 789 426 50
Grande Prairie 1.61 1,534 955 57
Lloydminster 1.60 782 489 58
Brookes 1.58 1,188 751 60
Spruce Grove 1.56 867 554 62
Camrose* 1.52 1,159 768 63
St. Albert 1.42 1,089 768 68
Leduc 1.32 834 633 78
Lacombe 1.20 873 725 81
Regional Average


Provincial Average

1.95


2.43

1,139


1,058

615


499

Source: CFIB analysis of AB Government published property tax rates 2003-2014. * Denotes addition of business tax.

CFIB recommends provincial and municipal governments ensure the property tax system becomes more balanced over time by:

  • introducing legislation to put a cap on the maximum tax gap allowed;
  • reducing the tax gap through restraint in operating spending; and
  • holding operating spending growth to no more than the rate of inflation and population growth.

“Mayors and Councils must hold to line on property taxes. Anything short of that demonstrates their priorities don’t align with the current challenges entrepreneurs are facing”, concludes Ruddy.

As Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses, CFIB is Powered by Entrepreneurs™. Established in 1971, CFIB takes direction from more than 109,000 members in every sector nationwide, giving independent business a strong and influential voice at all levels of government and helping to grow the economy.

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