Calgary is Due for Tax Reform

Image by Nataliia Kvitovska

While our city was able to pull ahead and end the fiscal year without slipping into the red, The City of Calgary closed 2020 with a $98M surplus. City Council now intends to spend the surplus on pandemic relief measures. Firstly, pandemic relief funding was built into the budgets of our provincial and federal governments--governments to which tax payers contribute to on top of property taxes. It is the jurisdiction of the provincial and federal governments to allocate funds when disaster strikes. To shift the burden of relief efforts to homeowners and businesses (especially small businesses) raises considerable concerns.


The purpose of property taxes are to supplement funds from the Alberta Government for city expenses in delivery of programs and services outside the purview of Provincial and Federal governments. These are the tangible outcomes that taxpayers expect to see after paying increasingly high taxes on their properties. However, when the revenue from taxpayers exceeds the city's expenses on programs and services, a surplus is the result. To add to the frustration, the City of Calgary paid out nearly $27M in pay increases last year. In sum, homeowners and businesses were bearing the burden of unnecessarily high tax rates with no immediate and tangible benefits during these difficult times.  


Let’s review our taxation system to allow for equitable taxation for homeowners and small businesses during these unprecedented times. In addition, let's allow the appropriate bodies of government to provide pandemic relief and recovery funding.