How do we pay for services delivered?

The programs and services Alberta’s communities offer help make them great places to live, work and play. Taxes, based on various types of property assessments, help communities fund the programs and services Albertans enjoy.

The Municipal Government Act (MGA) outlines processes for assessment and taxation within Alberta communities.

Property assessment

Property assessments determine how much property owners will pay in taxes. The MGA identifies how property values are determined, based on the type of property:

Residential properties

In Alberta, residential properties are assessed based on their market value (the price a property might reasonably sell for). Market value is assessed based on:

  • Property characteristics like the size, type and age of the property, as well location, condition and upgrades
  • The selling prices of similar properties in the same (or a similar) neighbourhood

Non-residential property

Farmland, industrial machinery and equipment, etc. are assessed using a regulated process outlined in the MGA.

Linear properties, like pipelines, electric power property, gas and oil wells, can be complicated. For example, a single pipeline can cross several municipal boundaries and affect several communities. That’s why the Province assesses these property values on behalf of municipalities.

Assessment complaints

Sometimes property owners don’t agree with their property assessments. The MGA provides opportunities for them to file assessment appeals with their community.

Property taxes, fees and levies

Property taxes, fees and levies offer municipalities an important source of funding.

Each year, municipal councils determine the amount of money they need to run their municipality. They use the funding collected through taxation to provide a portion of the funding for programs and services.

Fees are another revenue source for municipalities. Municipalities may charge people fees for a variety of services, including licenses and permits.

Levies, such as redevelopment levies, are typically applied to developers or property owners in designated areas and for specific improvements.

Tax exemptions

Some properties are exempt from paying taxes because they are owned by another level of government, or provide a public benefit. These include:

  • Constitutional (federal and provincial government property)
  • Traditional (religious institutions)
  • Public or quasi-public organizations (hospitals, schools, libraries)
  • Public infrastructure (roads, bridges)
  • Ability to pay (veterans associations)
To learn more about the Municipal Government Act, check out the MGA Review Workbook.