Taxed to the max — Calgarians feeling pinch of taxes and fees

By: Paige MacPherson, Amber Ruddy and Stephanie Kusie

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When faced with a slumping economy, residents and businesses pore over their expenses with a fine tooth comb to ensure value for the services paid for. People often complain about their property tax bill, but is there any merit to the grumbling?

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Notley Must Let Albertans Decide On New City Taxes

By: Paige MacPherson, Amber Ruddy and Stephanie Kusie

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According to the Chinese zodiac, 2016 will be the year of the monkey. But will it also be the year of the tax? Unfortunately, if Alberta's big-city mayors have their way, all signs point to yes when it comes to city charters. What advocates of democracy and choice can hope for is that the premier puts the power in the hands of the people and lets city residents decide.

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Mind your wallets, urban Albertans: City charters meant city taxes in Toronto

By: Paige MacPherson, Amber Ruddy and Stephanie Kusie
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In mid-November, Premier Rachel Notley was given the chance to end a long-held belief that her government is considering giving Alberta’s big cities historic new taxing powers. 

Instead, she refused to rule out granting new tax powers to Alberta’s big cities. She said discussions with the mayors of Calgary and Edmonton about big city charters hadn’t yet reached that point, but has welcomed the big city mayors to meet with the entire NDP cabinet in January.

Adding fuel to the tax fire, just days before Calgary City Council discussed city charters behind closed doors in an in-camera meeting.

Once again, Alberta taxpayers and businesses are left out of the discussion, despite the fact that they’ll be the ones to pay the bill if Calgary imposes a city sales tax or Edmonton slaps on a city gas tax.

 

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See Charter Think Tax: Coalition Warns of New Municipal Taxing Powers

By: Paige MacPherson, Amber Ruddy,  Stephanie Kusie

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Look, up in the sky! It’s a tool, it’s a levy, it’s a charter – no, it’s a tax! And it’s about to empty pockets near you.

The mayors of Edmonton and Calgary have been busy pushing for city charters – agreements that could give their councils new taxing powers.

Over the last year, Albertans have been served a heaping pile of new taxes and fees. There’s no doubt times are tough. But what about the taxes we don’t see coming? If we don’t look up, a whopping tax burden might fall right into our wallets before we know it.

Take, for example, a city sales tax.

 

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Kusie: Efficiency to be had at city hall

By: Stephanie Kusie
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Across Calgary, many families are feeling the pinch due to the current economic slowdown.

Similarly, many businesses have had to put off expansion plans, delay non-essential spending and cancel perks for employees.

That’s why Common Sense Calgary called on City Hall to tighten its belt and reduce its planned property tax increase down to 1.3%; Statistics Canada’s inflation rate for our city. Many readers will know that council has been passing tax increases much higher as of late.

 

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Kusie: City needs to cut its property tax hike

By: Stephanie Kusie
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There have been countless stories in Calgary’s media as of late about layoffs and pay cuts. The province’s current recession is hurting a lot of families.

With that in mind, city hall should scale back its proposed 4.7 per cent property tax hike. A large tax hike like that is the last thing many families need right now. Thankfully, it appears council will be presented with a 3.5 per cent tax increase next week, but more needs to be done.

I know the problems Calgarians are facing well, as several supporters of Common Sense Calgary have told me they’ve been laid off or have had their pay cut. Many people went on to describe how they’ve had to put off buying a new vehicle, or won’t be making a winter getaway trip. Others have described decisions like dining out less frequently and cancelling their cable.

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MacPherson: Lessons for Alberta from Vancouver’s Translink Tax Referendum

By: Paige MacPherson

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The most important thing about Vancouver’s recent Translink tax referendum was that there was a referendum at all. On this, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley should take note.

The people in the lower mainland of BC recently voted 62 per cent against a 0.5 per cent municipal sales tax hike to fund the regional transit authority’s expansion plan. The tax hike had been proposed by the mayor’s council of the 21 municipalities that make up the Metro Vancouver region.

Beforeduring and after the vote, some have argued the vote was a waste of time and money. If the result had been an overwhelming yes – showing the public was in lockstep with the local mayors’ plans – one could more reasonably make that point.

The result, however, was a resounding no.

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Ruddy: Canada's big city mayors need to rein in spending

By: Amber Ruddy

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Mayors from across the country want us to believe they lack adequate funding and need more money to fix potholes, repair bridges, upgrade infrastructure and pay for social housing.

As they gather this week in Edmonton for the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference, they will surely dedicate a significant amount of time to talking about their “revenue problem.”

But research from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) reveals that cities don’t really have a revenue problem.

What they have is a spending problem.

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MacPherson: No New Tax Powers Without a Citywide Referendum

By: Paige MacPherson

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Calgary City Council is currently mulling over a number of ways they could grab more of your cash to fund their transit plans. Some of them represent a major shift in the traditional taxing powers of Canadian cities, and all of them represent a major dent in Calgarians’ wallets.

On the table are a Calgary-specific sales tax, a four-cent-per-litre gas tax (weren’t Albertans just hammered with one of those?), a $144 per year vehicle registration tax, the likes of which was disastrously unpopular in Toronto and eventually repealed, and lastly, toll roads.

Fortunately, the province will be the final arbiter of whether to grant the city new taxing powers. But council should not ask any more taxing powers without first holding a city-wide referendum. Few if any of the current council ran on a platform of explicitly creating new taxes for Calgarians. Council needs the explicit consent of Calgarians before burdening them with new taxes or fees. 

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