Calgary council opts not to alter property tax split between homeowners and businesses
After a lot of debate, Calgary councillors narrowly decided Tuesday evening not to shift additional property tax burden from businesses to homeowners.
Council considered three options that would have put more cost onto homeowners and brought down taxes for businesses and commercial properties:
- Option A was to leave the tax share as is;
- Option B was to shift the tax share to 53 per cent residential and 47 per cent non-residential; and
- Option C was to move to a share of 54 per cent residential and 46 per cent non-residential.
The latter two options would have seen property tax on the typical single-family residential home valued at $555,000 increase by $4 per month or $8 per month, respectively.
If a property tax shift had been approved, the tax increase would have been in addition to the increases announced in late 2022 that will see the typical residential property in Calgary pay about $10 more per month.
In the end, council went with Option A and kept the tax split between residential and non-residential as is - 52 per cent for homeowners and 48 per cent for businesses.
The vote was 8-7.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek had wanted to ease the burden on commercial properties.
"I think we need to take some action to help small businesses," the mayor said.
"I can tell you that the Chamber has done some pretty good work in identifying that businesses with less than 20 staff, businesses that have been in operation for less than 10 years and businesses that are run by visible minorities are most in jeopardy if we don't take some action."
A typical business property valued at $5.1 million would have seen annual savings of nearly $2,000 with a one per cent tax shift and $3,900 with a two per cent tax shift.
"We know that small businesses are employers. We know that they're putting back and feeding their families and they're feeling pressures of the cost of living, just as we are as residents, but to a greater extent," said Kortney Penner, Ward 11 councillor.
The Calgary Chamber of Commerce issued a statement Tuesday night expressing disappointment in the decision to keep things as they are.
The chamber said it runs counter to Calgary's identity of being “open for business.”
"We have been actively working with our business community and city council on the importance of business viability and success in Calgary, knowing a thriving business community leads to a vibrant Calgary community more broadly. Businesses are the employers of many Calgarians, and we need a strong business environment to continue having a strong economy," the chamber said in its statement.
"We view the decision to maintain the status quo as a decision in favour of a further imbalance, as the ratio is projected to continue climbing. It leaves Calgary among the highest-cost cities compared to nearby and other major Canadian cities, hampering business success. Rising costs, inflation and debt continue to impede business, and unequitable property taxes only add to this."
The chamber said it will continue to advocate for a two per cent property tax shift in the coming years.