​Alberta rural municipalities report $81 million in unpaid oil and gas property taxes

Image: Joey Podlubny/JWN

Rural Municipalities of Alberta says a recent survey of its members found an unprecedented $81 million in property taxes from oil and gas companies have gone unpaid.

This is a unique challenge that has not been experienced by municipalities in Alberta before, RMA said in a statement earlier this month.

“The 2014 downturn in the price of oil has seen many companies fall on hard times. The current tax recovery system in Alberta does not allow for easy recourse for tax collection for these types of infrastructure, unlike options for properties. This has left a significant hole in rural municipal budgets throughout Alberta who rely on taxes from industrial activities,” RMA said in a statement.

“Unpaid taxes, either by bankruptcy or by viable companies that simply choose to not pay, are causing major challenges for Alberta’s rural municipalities in meeting their obligations.”

RMA president Al Kemmere added that, “When oil and gas companies fail to pay their property taxes, the burden falls on the rest of the tax base to cover the difference to ensure that core services and infrastructure can continue to be provided for the betterment of the community.”

The organization, which represents 69 member municipalities across Alberta, is advocating for a solution to the problem, either through improved legislated tax recovery options in the Municipal Government, or through the Alberta Energy Regulator.