As Calgarians received their property tax bills this spring many were left feeling frustrated and unheard. For years you have consistently stated that you do not wish to pay higher taxes while Council continues to spend money on frivolous projects. You recognize wasteful spending on pet projects increases your taxes needlessly and you are tired of it.
For the last three and a half years I have listened to my residents in person at their doors, on the phone, and on email, repeatedly say “please be the voice of reason on Council”. People are being pushed to their financial limits and, now more than ever, need to be assured that Council is spending their tax dollars on NEEDS and not WANTS! That is why I continuously advocate for tax payers and vote against these tax increases.
I witness taxpayers having to pay for the wants of self serving political figures all the time. It seems this problem is systemic at all levels of government. Government officials have a constant thirst for pet projects and legacy programs that serve their purposes rather than the needs of those who foot the bill. That means that, for every new wonton strategy, every “fun” program, and every pet project there is a higher burden placed on taxpayers. But at some point something has to give. People cannot be expected to pay more indefinitely. When will enough be enough? When you hear the words “strategy” or “plan” being tossed around prepare for it to hit you in the pocket book.
I joined this Council in 2013 knowing that the past Council had a spending problem. Almost four years later it is left up to you to decide whether anything has changed. However, I would like to think that I have done my part to try and change the culture. Does this make me unpopular with some people at City Hall? You bet it does! But I was not elected to make friends. I was elected by the residents of Ward 4 to be their voice on Council and that is exactly what I am doing. I hear it all the time from my residents that they do not want to pay more in taxes while they are not convinced Council will spend their money wisely.
As the Councillor of Ward 4 I understand that at some point taxpayers need to get a win. I will continue to voice my opinion that Council must focus on NEED based spending and stop with the trendy projects and initiatives. It is time for political leadership to find a different way of doing things. Simply increasing taxes is just an easy way out for politicians at City Hall. We need to start making the hard decisions so we can limit our self serving extravagant ways and ensure we do not pass along uncontrollable debt to future generations.
Many of you will find yourselves struggling to pay the unexpected tax increase for 2017. There are ways to help manage the shock of seeing such a large bill each year. I hope the information below, will help you budget accordingly, find the programs you can use to help your family budget, and also know that I will continue to fight for you on Council.
What is property assessment?
Property assessment is the value placed on property for taxation purposes. As required by provincial legislation, the 2017 property assessment reflects the market value of property on July 1, 2016 and the physical condition and characteristics of property as of December 31, 2016.
How the City assesses properties:
The City annually assesses property under a market value standard using mass appraisal techniques. To determine the market value of property, the City uses one of three approaches, depending in the type of property:
Sales comparison: comparing to sales of similar properties.
Income: capitalize the income being generated by the property.
Cost: land value and the depreciated replacement cost of the improvement.
Most residential properties are assessed using the sales comparison approach. For non-residential property assessments, the City may use any of the three approaches. Some property types, such as farm land, are subject to standard other than market value.
2017 property assessment/tax timeline
|July 1 2016||October 3||November 3||December 31||Jan 5, 2017||March 6||May 2017||June 2017|
|2017 property assessment valuation date||Non-residential property Advanced Consultation Period||Physical condition of property on this date||assessment notice mailing||2017 tax bill mailing||2017 tax due date|
|Customer Review Period|
Customer Review Period (June 5 – March 6)
The Customer Review Period provides property owners the opportunity to review their assessment and get their questions answers. It spans 60 days from the date of the assessment notice mailing. During the Customer Review period, property owners are encouraged to:
CHECK the factual information we have on record for their property.
REVIEW their assessment to determine if it’s a reasonable estimate of the market value of their property as of July 1, 2016.
COMPARE their assessment with similar properties with similar characteristics in a similar location to ensure equity.
The City is committed to preparing a fair and equitable assessment. If information about a customer’s property needs to be changed or updated, they should contact us during the Customer Review Period. If this results in a change to the customers property assessment, and amended assessment notice will be issues. Changes to an assessment will only be considered if an inquiry is received during the Customer Review Period.
The easiest way to review your property is by visiting Calgary.ca/assessment or calling customer service line: 403-268-2888.
These dates are important dates and you should know them for your family budgeting and for next year! Not paying your property taxes on time will incur fines.
|January 1 to December 31||Property tax bills cover the calendar year.|
|Tax bill mailing||May||Property owners who have not received a tax bill by the first week of June can request a copy of the bill by visiting property tax document request.|
|Tax payment deadline||June 30||Property tax payment: options and instructions|
|7% penalty added||July 1 and October 1||7% penalty is added to any unpaid tax bill balance.|
|Supplementary tax bills||Various dates||Supplementary tax bills issued after the annual billing are due and payable on the date shown on the notice|
To give you an idea of how many properties the City assesses see below:
|Total assessment value summary (taxable & non-taxable)||309,191,600,000||303,035,100,000|
|Total number of assessable properties (taxable & non-taxable)||498,874||511,328|
|Single residential median assessment||480,000||460,000|
|Residential condominium media assessment||280,000||270,000|
|Typical residential market value change||-1%||-4%|
|Typical non-residential market value change||-4%||-6%|
Finally you can see how this is broken down further:
|2017 Property Assessment Summary by Assessment Class|
|Assessment class||Number of accounts||Assessed value|
|Total assessment summary||511,328||303,035,100,000|
I show this so that you can see how challenging this is for the City to make sure every house, apartment, and business is done correctly, and that mistakes can happen, that is why I urged my fellow Ward 4 residents to challenge their assessment before the deadline if they thought there was an issue, so that they did not have to pay more than needed. Often my office gets calls after the deadline and sadly no exceptions can be made.
For those that want more details about the 2017 property tax changes for Ward 4 specifically here it is below:
|2017 Single Residential Revenue Neutral Tax Change and Assessment Summary by Ward and Community|
# of Taxable Accounts
Median Assessed Value
|% of Properties Decreasing in RN Taxes||% of Properties Increasing in RN Taxes||% of Properties Changing +/-10% in RN Taxes||RN Taxes on Median Assessed Value|
|N. Haven Upper||245||472000||89||11||97||3020|
As you can see the average price per community for Ward 4 and if you click here you can see Ward 4 in colour and see where growth has occurred. North Haven, Huntington, and Beddington saw an increase in their property taxes. These communities are growing, for many reasons not all but some are for transit ease, shopping services, and with the Green Line will only further grow. For Huntington there are new in-fills and with that density means opportunities and challenges for the community.
Also this chart shows Ward 4 and the changes for 2017:
|Change in RN taxes (% range)||
% of total
|Reverse Cumulative %||% changing +/-10% in RN Taxes|
|-30% and less||4||0||0||100||–|
|-30% to -20%||9||1||1||100||–|
|-20% to -10%||29||3||5||99||–|
|-10% to 0%||44||5||10||95||58%|
|0$ to 10%||464||53||63||90|
|10% to 20%||265||30||94||37||–|
|20% to 30%||33||4||97||6||–|
|30% and more||23||3||100||3||–|
How are your property taxes calculated?
City Council sets the year’s property tax rate to collect the money needed for the budget.
City tax supported budgetary requirements ÷ Total assessed value of all Calgary properties = TAX RATE
Your individual share of property tax is calculated by multiplying your property assessment by the tax rate.
Property assessment x tax rate = PROPERTY TAX
Business Plan and Budget (finalized in November)
- City Council sets the annual budget needed to pay for services all Calgarians benefit from like police, fire protection, transit, parks, recreation and more.
- The City budget is paid from property taxes, plus other sources including business taxes, license fees, provincial grants and user fees like transit fares.
Assessment (mailed in January)
- Your property assessment is based on estimated market value on July 1, 2016 and used to calculate your property taxes.
- Your property assessment can change year to year. The average home saw an assessment decrease of 4%.
- If your assessment decreased about 4%, you will pay about the same municipal taxes as last year.
- If your assessment decreased less than 4% or increased from 2016, your municipal taxes will increase.
- If your assessment decreased by more than 4%, you’ll see a decrease in your municipal taxes.
- The provincial portion of the tax rate isn’t announced until the spring and will have an impact on your property taxes.
City Council approved the 2017 Property Tax Bylaw, which set the rates for 2017 property taxes for residential and non-residential properties.
City Council approved the 2017 municipal property tax rate based on mid-cycle adjustments that were developed to support Calgarians during the economic downturn. Last June, Council reduced the previously approved 4.7 per cent tax rate increase for 2017 to 1.5 per cent and approved a rebate from the Fiscal Stability Reserve to cover the 1.5 per cent increase. This reserve is not however limitless.
The Province’s tax requisition for this year was lower than The City originally expected, creating what is commonly called tax room in the amount $23.7 million. Council agreed to rebate the 2017 tax room as a one-time return to taxpayers in the amount and directed Administration to bring a recommendation to the business plan and budget process for the use and/or rebate of the tax room in 2018 and beyond.
As a result, residential property owners who own a median residential property valued at $460,000 can expect to see an annual reduction of $7 dollars or sixty cents per month in their 2017 property tax bill.
I was the one on Council that spearheaded the Motion at Council that asked my Colleagues to return the $23.7 million – I am glad that they did…I only wish it was done in non-election years…
Common Questions that my Office have received:
Are my taxes frozen this year for 2017?
Recognizing the impact of the economic downturn, Council reduced the 2017 property tax rate increase to zero through a one-time rebate. This only affects the City’s portion.
Where does my property taxes go?
About 60% of all residential property taxes go towards City services while about 40% are sent to the Government of Alberta. The City has no control over the provincial rate, which is billed to us each spring.
What is changing for Ward 4 business owners?
Business Tax Consolidation
Understanding the business tax consolidation process.
The City is phasing out the business tax through a gradual transfer of the business tax revenues to non-residential property tax. Each year, businesses tax bills will go down and non-residential property taxes will increase. The business tax will be eliminated in 2019.
Consolidated the taxes into a single, easy to understand real estate-based assessment and tax system for non-residential property owners will make Calgary more competitive and attractive for business.
Business tax consolidation will not impact your property/business assessment nor will it be reflected on your assessment notice. It will not increase the amount of revenues collected by the City.
2017 tax impacts:
Business owners will see an approximate 20 per cent decrease in the 2017 business tax rate. The tax change effects from business tax consolidation will be reflected in the taxes owing – meaning your business tax bill will decrease. The City will mail the 2017 business tax bills in February.
Non-residential property owners will see an estimated additional 4.6 per cent increase in their 2017 non-residential property tax rate. The tax change effects from business tax consolidation will be reflected in the taxes owing – meaning your property tax bill will increase. The City will mail the 2017 property tax bills at the end of May.
Annual tax implications will vary based on changes to property/premises details, annual re-assessment shifts and annual Council or provincial tax rate adjustments. The provincial portion of the tax rate isn’t announced until spring.
For more information visit: Calgary.ca/btc or call 403-268-2888
Ways the Ward 4 residents can help lessen the pain at Tax Time:
The Tax Installment Payment Plan (TIPP) is a popular program which allows you to pay your property tax on a monthly basis instead of one payment in June.
Your payment is automatically withdrawn from your bank on the first day of every month, making budgeting easier and eliminating the risk of late payment penalties. Note: If you pay principal, interest and taxes (PIT) through your mortgage holder, please check with your financial institution prior to joining TIPP
How does TIPP work? Each year property taxes are billed in May, due at the end of June and cover the period from January 1 to December 31. By becoming a TIPP participant you will spread the payment of your property tax over 12 months, starting January 1, with your account being paid in full after your December 1 installment. Your monthly installment amount from January 1 to June 1 is calculated by dividing your property’s most recent annual tax levy by 12, rounded up to the nearest dollar.
When you receive your annual tax bill in May your installments from July 1 to December 1 are adjusted to reflect the year’s actual tax levy. The revised installment amount ensures your tax account is paid in full by year-end. Your annual tax bill will show: The credit resulting from the installments made January 1 to May 1 and the June 1 installment amount.
At the end of the year: TIPP automatically continues from year to year. In November, installments are reviewed to bring the monthly payment to an ideal amount for January 1 to June 1 of the up-coming tax year. This ideal amount becomes the revised installment effective January 1. If your installment amount changes as a result of this review, you will be notified. Example: Joining the plan with a start date of January 1. Installment amounts are rounded up to the nearest dollar.
Request an agreement A TIPP agreement contains tax information specific to your property. Your customized agreement is created and sent to you after your request has been received. Online calgary.ca/TIPP Phone 311 or 403-268-CITY (2489) Hearing Impaired TTY: 403-268-4889 Visit Tax Advisory Services Third Floor, Calgary Municipal Building Our hours for walk-in service are 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
There are also two programs to help low income individuals at tax time:
Property Tax Assistance Program – A credit/rebate to assist low-income homeowners, regardless of age.
Alberta Seniors Property Tax Deferral – Allows eligible senior homeowners to defer all or part of their property taxes through a low-interest home equity loan with the Alberta government.
Finally, if you want more information on the City of Calgary’s financial situation, click here.
I hope the information above helps you and answers some of the questions you have, and will help you budget for next year. There are programs to help you plan, and if need be to find assistance. Often many Calgarians don’t know about the timelines and only when is it too late do they come to me. Stay informed and that way you can save money.
It is nearly the end of my first term as your Ward 4 Councillor, I have learned much from City Administration who work tirelessly to innovate and to seek new ways of providing services to Calgarians. I have also gained even more respect for taxpayers who have been asked again and again to take on more financial burden…with little choice in it. This is not right.
Ever since my first Council meeting I have been the only one that has not wavered in trying to ask Administration the most basic questions around financial matters, so as to continue to show some of my colleagues that taxpayers are not an ATM.
The simplest questions, are the ones that ultimately drill down to the most fundamental role of Government – what are we here to do, what is our role, and how do we pay for it?
Often these questions are ignored. Taxpayers then pay for it.
Politicians take your property taxes, and use it for pet projects like the Peace Bridge, or recently to give $25,000 to Haiti for road construction, when challenged the response is the same…‘what is an extra few dollars for such a worthy cause?!’ You then have to pay for it. When I asked Council to give tax dollars back the same argument is used to justify not doing it… ‘It’s just a few dollars it won’t make a difference.’ It does make a difference.
The role of municipal government is to maintain roads, transit, public services like recreation centres, libraries, and to maintain a City that runs smoothly. That is it. The problem is when politicians rise and start talking about visions, about goals of where they want the City to go, often forgetting the basic question, which you and I ask: who is paying for this?
I will never say that a vision or a goal is not needed; in fact it is how the City must operate. It must look to the future of the City, population growth, trends, transit needs, and what design changes are needed to facilitate that growth. We are seeing this in the Green Line. It is however incumbent upon politicians to take every idea, and vision and look at it with taxpayers in mind. Pet projects are poor policy drivers and so is the constant desire of some of my colleagues to always seek fancier ideas, lofty goals…and forget asking of where the money is coming from, and what the debt servicing costs are going to be for this.
Instead they should focus on how they can help entrepreneurs grow, how the City can be more efficient. Calgary is a city that innovates and other cities follow. Park Plus is owned by Calgary and licenses it out to other Cities, and so much more. City Hall has done great work. They like small business are always trying to innovate. Let’s make this better, this is my vision for 2017 and onward.
Some believe Government should drive the market, should drive change…I say it be there to drive businesses to grow, drive people to see opportunity, and get out of the way. Innovation can’t be forced by Government but it can be stifled.
I have for nearly 4 years been constantly asking these tough questions about the role of Government in Council. It does not make me popular with some, because it challenges their views, and questions their motives. My focus is not popularity, or headlines, it is defending your wallet. Like you, I have two back pockets in my pants and does not matter where the Government takes your money from, it’s still the same pair of pants.
My focus will be helping small businesses thrive with the help of City Hall and from that will drive innovation and progress. Let us find ways the City hurts small businesses and Calgarians in red tape. Standing in line, and trying to find the right Department at City Hall can be intimidating and tiring…this needs to change. City Hall should be viewed as an ally not a roadblock to your success.
That is my vision to you, and it does not cost anything to do it – just determination to get it done.