Jason Kenney’s government responds to ‘urgency’ over millions in unpaid oilpatch property taxes

As small towns write off millions of dollars in unpaid taxes from Alberta’s slumping oilpatch, Premier Jason Kenney’s government says it has sprung into action to find solutions for both the industry and municipalities.

Provincial Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu made the comments after meeting with Al Kemmere, president of Rural Municipalities of Alberta, whose members report they are owed at least $81 million in unpaid property taxes from oil and gas companies which refuse to pay or have gone bankrupt.

Rural Municipalities of Alberta is an independent association that represents 69 counties and municipal districts covering about 85 per cent of Alberta’s territory and 17 per cent of its population.

Madu told National Observer in an emailed statement that the government recognizes the “urgency” of the situation and that he met with Kemmere on May 8 to chart a path forward.

The meeting was a few days after Premier Kenney said he wanted to bring industry’s concerns about high property taxes to the municipalities.

“In light of the urgency of this situation, we recently met with Mr. Kemmere, and are working towards finding solutions that strike a balance between the financial needs of the municipalities and the viability of oil and gas companies,” Madu said.

“For many municipalities, oil and gas is a significant source of revenue. As such, we are seeking to find solutions to ensure there are no unnecessary barriers to these companies in the face of persistently low commodity prices.”

Functioning companies not paying their taxes

Kemmere explained that the problem of unpaid taxes has become significant since global commodity prices crashed in 2014 — a crisis that has rocked the Canadian oilpatch and thrown tens of thousands of people out of work.

“More recently, we’ve seen situations where we’ve actually got functioning companies who have not gone insolvent, who appear to be continuing to operate, but are also choosing not to pay their taxes,” he told National Observer in a phone interview.

“They may not think they can’t afford to pay but the reality is they continue to operate and as they continue to operate they choose not to pay their taxes. They are making a deliberate decision not to pay those taxes, which then leaves the municipality with the challenge of collecting the dollars from other taxpayers or having to significantly modify their services.”

full story at https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/05/13/news/jason-kenneys-government-responds-urgency-over-millions-unpaid-oilpatch-property

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