June 08, 2016

Shocked by your property tax bill, Calgary? Brace yourself for the carbon tax

Paige MacPhersonAlberta CTF Director

(This op-ed by Paige MacPherson, the Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, originally appeared in the Calgary Sun on June 7, 2016.)

Calgary residents got a collective shock opening their property tax bills this week. City councillors say they’re receiving an unprecedented number of angry phone calls.

To be sure, Calgarians are taxed to the max. But the worst is yet to come.

Alberta’s incoming carbon tax is going to increase the cost of heating your home in the winter and driving your kids to school. (Because really, how dare you?) It’s going to drive up the price of nearly everything you purchase. The NDP government has finally admitted the carbon tax going to cost you more than they’d originally said.

But it doesn’t end there.

The carbon tax is likely to end up hitting your property tax bill, too.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi characterized the $6.5 million in anticipated carbon tax costs downloaded onto the city in 2018 alone as a “half point increase in the property tax.”

Alberta’s 61 school boards will also face hundreds of thousands of dollars in increased costs for spiking transportation and heating bills. In Edmonton, the Catholic School Board estimates the additional carbon tax cost burden will be $737,000 in 2017-18 alone.

In Calgary, the costs are anticipated to be higher than that.

Through education property taxes – the portion of your property tax bill that the province collects – or other taxes funneled to Alberta Education, or through busing fees, school boards’ increased costs will fall onto the taxpayer.

As it stands, Calgarians’ property taxes went up by an average of 6.1 per cent this year.

That substantial hike is the result of increases by both the province and the city.

City residents have made it abundantly clear that they’re being stretched to the limit, and they demand restraint from city council.

A recent City of Calgary survey showed residents overwhelmingly wanted an end to unnecessary spending and a reduction in taxes and fees wherever possible.

Yet the city is continuing to spend on things like "culturally stimulating" public art bike racks.

Some councillors have sounded the alarm, but the city just isn’t getting the message.

“We knocked ours down from 4.5 to 3.5 per cent, and the province came in at 10.2 per cent,” councillor Ray Jones told CTV News in response to an uptick in property tax appeals (up by 385 since last year). “So if you’re going to blame somebody, blame the province.”

We can’t exactly characterize that as an elected representative hearing your concerns and committing to address them.

It sounds a lot more like passing the buck.

Steadily increasing property taxes aren’t new. A recent Canadian Taxpayers Federation report shows Calgary property taxes increased nearly three times faster than the rate of inflation between 2005 and 2015. Fees increased by 181 per cent in the same period.

Calgary residents got a collective shock opening their property tax bills this week. City councillors say they’re receiving an unprecedented number of angry phone calls.

So it’s not about cost pressures the city or province must meet. The city has consistently refused to control its spending.

The province is no different. Instead of tightening their belts or reallocating spending, the Alberta government’s response to an uptick in school enrollment was to hike property taxes – a convenient approach, considering municipalities shoulder most of the blame.

Both parties deserve ‘blame’ for the property tax hikes – though in a democracy, that "blame" is what we call "accountability." Our elected representatives work for taxpayers and are expected to represent their interests in the government.

But the provincial NDP government must be held wholly accountable for the massive, multi-billion dollar carbon tax they’re forcing onto Albertans come this January, despite never having campaigned on it.

All Albertans need to be aware of the full cost of that carbon tax. If you’re peeved by your property tax bills now, brace yourselves.

Or, even better: call your MLA and tell them to reverse the carbon tax before it hits your wallet.


You must be logged in to comment. Click here to log in.
commented 2016-08-17 23:06:28 -0400
We should all quit whining and take matters into our own hands
commented 2016-06-08 21:38:35 -0400
Ezra – please run for mayor of Calgary! I know you would win hands down against Barney, the purple people eater. I’d love to see the look on Nenshi’s face. It would be priceless. Just throw your hat in the ring, and we can sit back and watch the show. Picture it, Nenshi’s pouty bug-eyed look. That’s usually when he says something that gets him into legal trouble!
commented 2016-06-08 18:59:19 -0400
Not to worry. When Calgary homeowners are forced out of their homes, they will still pay for the privilege when those homes are now given over to Trudope’s “refugees” AKA the jihadi army of Calgary!
commented 2016-06-08 16:56:49 -0400
The dire warnings have been given to the populace many, many, times! The average person simply will not heed the warnings until it is too late! This is sad, but true! We are being slowly, but surely, herded like sheep into a corral from which there will be no escape! Perhaps it is time to go “underground”!
commented 2016-06-08 13:56:37 -0400
Be careful Alberta farmers. Eventually Notley is going to find out that your cows fart and she was never one to miss a taxation opportunity.
commented 2016-06-08 13:11:12 -0400
Mac – and tar and feathers!
commented 2016-06-08 13:06:52 -0400
Time to march on the legislature (maybe with pitchforks.
commented 2016-06-08 11:52:02 -0400
I think that the taxpayers are sick of that sniveling Nenshi, and voter turn out will be high, due to the tax bills alone. All politicians are to blame for their out of control spending. We need to give that narcissistic purple clown the boot!
commented 2016-06-08 11:47:44 -0400
the government no longer serves the people, rather it is a self-serving buffet of taxpayers money.
if you wait until the next election to fix it you may find that you no longer have the right to vote , given the current level of change that is occurring.
commented 2016-06-08 11:37:21 -0400
Nenshi needs to go, a long with the other spend-a-holics at city hall. The art work we pay for isn’t even art. I think kindergarten students could do a better job. That $500,000 blue bird perch is absolutely laughable, and a total waste of money. This winter was a dry one, and I wonder what happened to the snow removal budget? Please everyone, vote in next year’s municipal election and kick Nenshi and his clowns to the curb, and do us all a favour!
commented 2016-06-08 11:15:59 -0400
Like your typical Canadian including me, we won’t rock the boat.
We want changes but don’t know how to go about it.
I remember once while attending University in Edmonton, I was nominated but my math class to present our concerns to the dean of the engineering faculty about a math teacher who was sub par.
When I arrived at the dean’s office, I did not have one of my class mates stand behind me.
Gun shy?
Well I guess. You can’t go it alone, when people commit they must take a stand as well and quit yapping about things.

“Those who live by the sword will be shot by those of us who have progressed.”

Author unknown!