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Back  |  April 01, 2019  | 

​​It’s time to talk taxes.

By now, you will have heard much about the decision facing City Council around non-residential property taxes and the impact to business. It’s a complex issue without a simple solution. We’ll be talking about this at today's Council meeting, as well as a broader conversation on the work that’s being done on the downtown, but ahead of that conversation, I think it’s important to provide a bit of background as to why we’re having this conversation in this first place.
Our downtown core (office buildings in particular) has held a lot of value for many years but in the last few years, the value of these properties has gone way down. Because of this loss of value, we've seen a redistribution about $250 million in property taxes to other non-residential businesses. As a result, there are some properties that could see untenable increases to their property taxes and we really can’t allow that – it’s not fair and it’s not sustainable for Calgary’s economy. We need businesses to thrive in this city. My colleagues at the City have put together detailed background information about this situation at Calgary.ca/taxshift.
So that brings us to today’s Council meeting.
Ultimately, we have three levers available to help: 
• Overall City of Calgary budget reductions 
• A transfer of some of the tax responsibility paid from non-residential properties to residential properties 
• One-time or short-term mitigation programs
The question is really how hard and how fast we pull on any of these levers. Based on all the feedback from the business community and my fellow councillors, I’m proposing what I hope is a compromise solution. Here are some highlights that I’m looking to achieve:
• The non-residential property tax rate will see a decrease of -1.77% in 2019 and be frozen at 0% for the next four years
• Over the four years, we’ll achieve a more equitable tax distribution between non-residential and residential, getting to a 50-50 split by 2022
• $60 million in further efficiencies in the City’s budget will be applied to buffer the impact to residential property taxes 
• We’ll create a grant program of around $35 million (nearly $71 million total) for both 2019 and 2020 to go to businesses.
As I said, this is a difficult problem without a simple solution. In order to ensure the long-term health of businesses and our economy, we need a balanced solution.

Categories: Better economy; Budget; Even smarter City Hall

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