The amendments that fall under this question aim to improve municipal funding models to ensure a balanced, consistent, and efficient collection of municipal revenue sources.

After hearing from Albertans about how this is important, we developed these MGA amendments to support how municipalities are funded.

Compliance with the Linked Tax Rate Ratio

What’s currently in place: The MMGA set a maximum property tax rate ratio of 5:1 between the highest non-residential property tax rate and the lowest residential property tax rate. Municipalities with property tax rate ratios above 5:1 (non-complying municipalities) may not increase their ratio, and are not required to lower their ratio.

What we heard: Stakeholder engagement indicated that further consultation was required to determine whether municipalities currently outside of the 5:1 ratio should be required to come into compliance with the maximum ratio within an established timeframe rather than have their ratios maintained at current levels.

What’s changing: Create authority for a regulation that will require non-complying municipalities to comply with the tax rate ratio of 5:1 over a period of time.

What this means: Municipalities with property tax ratios above 5:1 will be required to change their non-residential and residential property tax rates over a period of years to bring them into compliance. Municipalities would continue to set their own tax rates but within the ratios set out in the regulation.

When this takes effect: Upon proclamation of An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government.

Access to Assessment Information

What’s currently in place: The MMGA centralized the assessment of designated industrial property and gave municipalities the right to appeal Designated Industrial Property (DIP) assessments. Municipalities currently do not have the right to access all the information they may need to prepare their case or determine if an appeal is warranted.

What we heard: Property owners and municipalities both have a stake in ensuring that assessments prepared for DIP properties are accurate. Municipalities have requested the same right to request DIP assessment information as currently afforded to property owners. This information may be necessary for a municipality to determine if the property is assessable, if the assessment is prepared correctly, if a complaint is warranted; and to prepare a case.

What’s changing: Allow municipalities to request information regarding DIPs within their jurisdiction, subject to confidentiality restrictions that do not preclude use of the information in an appeal.

What this means: By allowing municipalities to access information, a balance will be created in the information access rights of industrial property owners and municipalities. This information could be used by the municipality to determine if the assessment was prepared correctly, to determine if an appeal is warranted, and to prepare a case.

Municipalities will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect sensitive corporate information including information received by the provincial assessor from property owners.

When this takes effect: Upon proclamation of An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government.

Tax Receipts

What’s currently in place: Municipalities are required to provide a receipt when taxes are paid.

What we heard: Some stakeholders expressed concern the requirement to provide tax receipts is onerous and costly. They further suggested that property owners do not often express interest in receiving a tax receipt. Municipalities have requested this requirement be changed so that a tax receipt is only sent when requested by a property owner.

What’s changing: Clarify that municipalities are not required to provide receipts unless requested by the taxpayer. Municipalities must notify taxpayers how to request a receipt and clearly explain the process on a property tax notice.

When this takes effect: Upon proclamation of An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government.

Business Improvement Areas

What’s currently in place: The current legislation allows the Business Improvement Area (BIA) levy to be charged to the business owners.

What we heard: Stakeholders consider it important that property owners are involved in the BIA; however, BIAs should be driven by the business owners.

What’s changing: Strengthen the sections in the MGA regarding BIAs.

What this means: No changes are proposed to the way BIAs operate; however, the legislation regarding BIAs has been clarified.

When this takes effect: Upon proclamation of An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government.

Taxation of Provincial Agencies

What’s currently in place: A recent decision by a Composite Assessment Review Board (CARB) has overturned a long-standing practice that properties leased by provincial agencies are subject to property tax.

What we heard: While most crown agencies continue to pay property tax, recent appeal board decisions are creating concerns that crown agencies may begin appealing the requirement to pay.  A number of these agencies operate on property that generates a significant amount of income for their host municipality.  Municipalities expressed concern that if these crown agencies successfully appeal their property tax bills, it will create tax shifts to other citizens and create inequities within the local property tax framework.

What’s changing: Make property held by a provincial agency taxable for the purposes of property taxation.

What this means: This change requires provincial agencies, as defined in the Financial Administration Act, to support the municipalities in which they operate in consideration of the municipal services they receive (such as fire protection) through property taxes. Properties that are associated with health regions that receive financial assistance from the province, housing management bodies established under the Alberta Housing Act, schools, colleges, and universities will continue to be exempt.

When this takes effect: Upon proclamation of An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government.

Tax Exemptions

What’s currently in place: “Held by” and “used in connection with” are terms used in the MGA in relation to property tax exemptions.

What we heard: Stakeholders have noted that this wording is not clear and in some instances can lead to businesses that are typically expected to pay property tax being exempt because they are loosely connected to an exempt use.

What’s changing: Provide the Minister with the ability to create a regulation to define the terms “held by” or “used in connection with” if required after further analysis and consultation.

When this takes effect: Upon proclamation of An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government.

Notice of Assessment Date

What’s currently in place: Assessment notices must include the deadline for filing a complaint about the assessment, which must be 60 days from the date the assessment notice is sent.

What we heard: Municipalities and stakeholders feel there is confusion around how to best determine the notice of assessment date. More specifically, some stakeholders interpret the MGA to mean the notice of assessment date is the day the municipality sends the assessment notice while others believe it is the day the assessment notice is received.

What’s changing: Municipalities and the provincial assessor will be required to set a “notice of assessment date” between January 1 and July 1; and mail the assessment notices seven days prior to the “notice of assessment date”.

Municipalities and the provincial assessor are enabled to establish additional notice of assessment dates for amended and supplementary assessment, which could occur at any time throughout the year. The amended or supplementary assessment notice would state the deadline for filing a complaint regarding that assessment.

What this means: The deadline for filing a complaint about an assessment will be 60 days from the “notice of assessment date” as indicated on the assessment notice.

When this takes effect: Upon proclamation of An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government.

Corrections to Assessments under Complaint

What’s currently in place: The MMGA enables assessors to revise an assessment even after a complaint has been filed on the assessment.

What we heard: Municipalities and assessors feel the current assessment complaint system does not adequately allow the municipality and the complainant to work together to correct assessments once a formal complaint is filed.

What’s changing: The MGA will be amended to clarify the process to be followed if an assessment that is under complaint is amended.  In such cases, the complaint will be cancelled and all taxpayer rights reset, unless the amended assessment has been agreed to by both parties (in which case no further appeal or amended assessment notice is required).

What this means: The process for revising an assessment that is under complaint will include:

  • sending the amended assessment notice and rationale for the changes to the assessed person or complainant, assessment review board or Municipal Government Board;
  • requiring the assessment review board or Municipal Government Board to cancel the complaint, notify the property owner of the cancellation, and refund the complaint fee;
  • allow the assessed person or a municipality to file a complaint about the amended assessment notice within 60 days of the “assessment notice date”; and
  • establish a process to ensure that the property owner or municipality may request information regarding an amended assessment notice under Section 299 and 300.

An amended assessment notice is not required if an assessment is revised as a result of a complaint being withdrawn by agreement between the complainant and the assessor.

An assessor will not be permitted to revise an assessment after an assessment review board or the Municipal Government board has rendered a decision on a complaint regarding the assessment.

When this takes effect: Upon proclamation of An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government.