Collecting education property taxes: what you need to know
Municipalities have long-standing concerns with collecting education property tax on behalf of the province. The provincial government continues to refuse taking over the collection of education property tax, despite the many resolutions passed over the last decade by Alberta Municipalities members.
At the very least, municipalities need flexibility around the administration associated with collecting this tax and informing residents on how it differs from municipal property tax. Our Municipal Governance Committee met with representatives from Municipal Affairs in April 2021 to discuss strategies related to collection administration that the Ministry is open to municipalities using.
The ministry agreed that municipal governments can use the following strategies:
- Provide residents with Municipal Affairs’ pamphlet on education property tax.
- Include other inserts or pamphlets prepared by the municipality that provide information on taxes, annual budgeting, municipal finances, etc.
- Add informative notes and visuals to tax notices.
- Include the general contact information for Municipal Affairs on tax notices and encourage residents to contact them with questions about education property tax. (Note: MLAs may object to the inclusion of their contact information on tax notices.)
The following administrative strategies may be also used, but they involve additional effort by municipalities and, potentially, the taxpayer:
- Use a single tax notice with a separate page for each type of tax, with the total amount of taxes owing shown at the end of the notice.
- Separate tax notices could be used for each type of tax, as long as each notice shows the combined amount owing for both types of taxes. (Note: The Government of Alberta logo may not be used on documents not prepared by the province without express permission.)
- Separate withdrawals for payment of each type of tax could be taken from residents’ bank accounts.
Municipalities should ensure that any administrative actions they take comply with the Municipal Government Act (MGA), and that tax rates for both municipal and education property taxes are shown on the notices.
All the strategies listed above comply with the MGA; however, Municipal Affairs recommends that consideration should be given to using the ones that provide the most transparency and clarity for residents, with the least administrative effort and cost.
Municipal Affairs also maintains that tax notices should not separately identify the portion of property taxes a resident is paying that will go to policing costs or include a levy specifically for policing, despite an active Alberta Municipalities RFD and resolution requesting these changes to the MGA. Further advocacy by ABmunis for legislative changes authorizing municipalities to implement one of these actions is planned. Currently, any inserts or information included with tax notices can explain the distribution of policing costs in Alberta and what it means for a specific community and its property taxes.
If you have any questions, or feedback, related to collection of education property tax, please contact Municipal Affairs’ Grants and Education Property Tax Branch by taxprogramdelivery [at] gov.ab.ca (email) or by telephone toll-free by first dialing 310.0000 and then 780.422.7125, or contact Alberta Municipalities Advocacy staff by advocacy [at] abmunis.ca (email).