Alberta revenue boost

New fees and taxes spell Alberta revenue boost

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Alberta government projects an annual revenue boost in the range of $7 million from the doubling of various land title fees. As announced in the recently tabled provincial budget, fees for land title transfers, title creation and mortgages will increase from $1 per every $5,000 of value to $2. The additional $50 flat fee for these services will remain unchanged, while the current $5 fee for discharge on interest rises to $10.

Concurrently, expanded online access with self-serve options will be introduced to ease the process. Projected operating expenses for Service Alberta, the ministry overseeing land title registry, show a $7 million reduction in spending for land title administration — at $11 million versus $18 million in 2018-19 — beginning in 2019-20. Elsewhere, the budget indicates 45 staff positions will be cut from Service Alberta during 2019-20.

Another $5 million in new annual revenue will come from the application of the 4 per cent tourism levy on short-term rental properties marketed via online platforms. Housing providers listing availability through online services such as Airbnb and Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) have thus far eluded the tax that hotel, motel and bed-and-breakfast operators must submit to provincial coffers, but the budget promises to address what it terms “an unfair advantage” for this category of short-term rental (STR) proprietors.

“The government intends to bring forward legislation in spring 2020 to level the playing field among temporary accommodation providers,” it states. “To facilitate the collection of the tourism levy from STR operators, online marketplaces will be authorized to collect and remit the levy to government on their behalf. Government will work with online marketplaces to implement this change.”

The budget also announces plans to consolidate all management of provincial public sector pension funds in-house with the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). The current option to outsource to other fund managers will be rescinded.

“To build a ‘made in Alberta’ portfolio for healthy public investment, the volume of funds invested must be big enough to support optimum earnings and minimize costs,” the budget declares. “Moreover, the Alberta Teachers Retirement Fund, Workers’ Compensation Board and Alberta Health Services will be expected to transfer funds to AIMCo for management, reducing redundant administration.”

Revenue derived from AIMCo’s investment management charges is projected to increase by a modest $1 million over the 2019-20 to 2022-23 period. Meanwhile, schedule 21 of the budget’s fiscal tables chapter indicates that 25 new positions will be added at AIMCo for 2019-20, whereas all eight existing positions at the Alberta Local Authorities Pension Plan Corporation will be cut.

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