by Morinville Online Staff
A new survey by the Rural Municipalities Association (RMA) indicates rural municipalities in Alberta are currently owed $268 million in unpaid oil and gas property tax. This amount is a 6.1% increase from 2021 tax year totals, and a 231.5% increase from the 2018 tax year, the first year the Association tracked this data.
The current RMA survey has prompted a response from Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs Rebecca Schulz, who said the government is aware of the recent survey results from the Rural Municipalities of Alberta and agrees with the RMA’s assessment that the problem of unpaid oil and gas taxes to rural municipalities is unacceptable.
“We are consulting with industry, municipalities, and landowners as we actively explore options to ensure taxes are paid as a condition of license transfer,”
The RMA survey indicates the average RMA member has an unpaid tax burden of $3,676,657 from the oil and gas industry, while six municipalities have unpaid tax burdens above $10,000,000. Only two municipalities have no unpaid tax burden from the oil and gas industry. Since 2015, Alberta municipalities have written off nearly $131 million in unpaid oil and gas taxes.
Schulz’ statement says The Alberta Energy Regulator has a critical role to play in solving the unpaid tax problem.
“We worked with the AER and strengthened the regulatory framework so that it has the option to consider company records for property taxes and surface lease payment when determining a company’s eligibility to hold a license,” Schulz said.
“These recent survey results from the RMA are broadly consistent with the government’s own research into this issue. While the problem of unpaid oil and gas taxes persists for many Alberta municipalities, we have recently seen payment plans established from 25 companies for municipalities to receive approximately $48 million in owed taxes. Our government will provide support as needed to municipalities as they create payment plans to recover unpaid taxes where possible.”
Schulz went on to say that the vast majority of companies operating in Alberta’s energy sector pay their local property taxes. However, some have not, leaving municipalities with hard decisions about raising taxes for other taxpayers or cutting services.
“We will be in contact directly with delinquent companies, reminding them of their tax responsibilities,” Schulz said.
The RMA 2022 survey can be found online.