If you want to try to do something about your high taxes, keep reading!

Here are some ways to encourage Council to help our member businesses:

  • A city meeting has been organized downtown for Wednesday January 23, 9-10:30 am. If you would like to attend this meeting, email Annie: kensingtonbrz@shaw.ca
  • The City of Calgary is doing a survey regarding ‘possible property tax policy options to address tax redistribution’ in Calgary. Here is the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZQCN7G5. Please take the survey and encourage friends and colleagues to also take the survey. Deadline to respond is January 23 so don’t delay, but before you take the survey read the backgrounder included here.
  • Below you will find a template for a letter to Council. You can paste onto your letterhead, sign and send. Please encourage other businesses to send this letter and do the survey.

This issue will be raised at Council on January 28. It will be incredibly helpful if as many stakeholders as possible show up at Council.

Please help us help Council make the tough decision that needs to be made to help small businesses in this tough economy.

Together we are stronger,

Annie

Backgrounder:

The Issue:

The mailing of municipal assessment notices has put the spotlight on the assessment dynamics with non-residential property assessments and the ratio of non-residential to residential property tax rates in Calgary. As it has been reported 8,000 commercial property owners – almost two- thirds of the 13,500 total non-residential accounts – face double-digit tax hikes in 2019 with more than 1,300 experiencing increases of 30 per cent or more. With 2019 budget approval, including an $8M in tax load transfer from non-residential to residential tax payers, the ratio of the municipal non-residential to residential tax rate is still about 4.37 to one. The tax rate ratio has increased over the past number of years primarily due to the consolidation of the previous business tax into the municipal non-residential property tax starting in 2014.

It is important to understand that these 13,500 non-residential accounts are the lifeblood of the community providing much needed jobs to tens of thousands residential property owners. The situation has created a crisis for many businesses that are already challenged in a difficult economy; particularly small- and medium-sized businesses that contribute to the vitality and quality of life in our neighbourhoods. These increases to non-residential property taxes, while paid by the property owner, are passed on to the businesses leasing the space.

If this situation is going to be resolved, Calgary City Council must hear from business. A CBC article posted November 6, 2018 reported about 55 per cent of the property tax load in Calgary is paid by non-residential properties versus 48 per cent in Edmonton, 45 per cent in Vancouver and 35 percent in Ottawa. The issue has been masked by energy companies footing more and more of the bill in a booming economy but it’s no longer the case.

While Council has been making efforts to reduce spending including reducing operational spending by approximately $600 million and eliminating 500 positions in the 2014 to 2018 budget and business plan cycle, Calgary’s economic environment demands The City continue to strive for cost reductions, such as the commitment to additional savings in the 2019-2022 budget and business plan cycle.

Call to Action:

City Administration is meeting with business groups to find solutions before Council votes on the issue in April, 2019. Writing to Council is one way for Calgary’s business community to make its voice heard on a much-needed change that will benefit the city. On January 28, 2019, Council will be discussing priorities for the term. Hearing from businesses before that date will help Council to understand the issue.

We encourage you to share this communication with other business leaders, so Councillors understand how important this issue is to the Calgary business community. To make your company’s voice heard, you have two options. You can sign your name to the letter attached or write your own letter.

All correspondence must be sent before January 25 to: smoser@calgaryeconomicdevelopment.com

 

Letter to Council Regarding a Plan to Reduce the Tax Weight
for Non-Residential Property Owners

Please copy and paste this onto your own letterhead.

January XX, 2019

To Calgary City Council:

Calgary is famous for its entrepreneurial spirit and being home to companies that have shaped Canada’s economy while driving the growth and prosperity in this city, and there is a need to safeguard this for
the future.

The harsh economic landscape is at a critical point for many companies and is a threat to the vibrancy of the business community and the quality of life for all Calgarians. As a city, we must adapt to the new economic reality to ensure Calgary continues to be a leading centre for business and a place of opportunity for all citizens.

We must all tighten our belts and prioritize spending, but one action City Council can take to help local businesses would be to address the increases to suburban non-residential property owners as a result of decline in market value in the downtown. We fully support reducing the municipal non-residential to residential tax rate ratio to transfer some of the tax load from non-residential properties to residential properties.

There aren’t simple solutions to resolve complex challenges like a structural change in the energy sector or the historic high downtown office vacancies and declining values, but we urge Councillors to consider the following three steps as a start:

  1. Transfer a portion of the municipal property tax load from non-residential to residential properties over four or five years.
  2. Continue the current efforts to reduce operational spending by the City.
  3. Use one-time funding from the City’s financial reserves to buffer some of the exceptionally high municipal non-residential tax increases until the transfer of some of the municipal property tax load on non-residential property owners has been achieved.

Taking these actions would help local companies in a transitioning economy while mitigating the impact on hard- hit suburban businesses, Calgary has maintained some of the lowest residential property taxes in Canada. This needs to re-balanced to catalyze business growth.

City Council is aware of the challenges and has responded with lower spending and accessing reserve savings to mitigate the impact on non-residential property owners. More needs to be done to ensure Calgary’s competitiveness as a business-friendly city.

These changes would align with Calgary in the New Economy, the economic strategy approved by
Council last year that highlighted a positive business environment as critical to future prosperity. By
addressing the non-residential property tax issue now, Council can continue to build a business-friendly environment, paving the way for businesses to drive Calgary forward and create opportunities for all citizens to prosper.

Sincerely,

Name
Title
Company