Rural Alberta owed $245M in unpaid property taxes from oil companies: survey

Alberta’s rural towns say property taxes that have gone unpaid by the province’s struggling oilpatch have tripled in two years.

A survey released by the Rural Municipalities of Alberta says industry owes a total of $245 million.

Read more: Tax debt owed from oil and gas companies to Alberta towns has more than doubled

The association’s president, Paul McLauchlin, says the provincial government should close loopholes that make it tough for communities to collect property taxes from energy companies.

“The fact that every rural municipality in the province took the time to complete this survey speaks to the anxiety and frustration that rural leaders are facing on this unpaid tax issue,” he said.

“In some municipalities, unpaid tax amounts are so high that service levels are being reduced, municipal staff are being laid off, and serious discussions are occurring about whether the municipalities can continue to function,” McLauchlin added.

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Read more: Alberta natural gas producers getting tax relief

He also says the province’s energy regulator should look more closely at the financial strength of oil and gas companies before granting licences.

Industry spokesmen have said municipal tax rates are too high, given low prices for Alberta’s oil and gas.

Read more: Alberta cuts deal on municipal oilpatch levies; not on unpaid property taxes

The provincial government has given companies tax breaks for new work and for less productive wells, but has put off dealing with the property tax issue until after the next election.

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Amount of unpaid property taxes oil companies owe rural municipalities soaring – Jan 20, 2020

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