Former Alberta Liberal leader on tax strike over unpaid oilpatch taxes

Rural municipalities in Alberta say oil and gas companies are stiffing them to the tune of $173 million in unpaid taxes. Jonathan Muma reports that has many saying the province needs to step in, and the former Alberta Liberal leader saying he won’t pay his property taxes.

CALGARY – A former member of the Alberta legislature says he won’t pay his provincial taxes until oilpatch players pay theirs.

David Swann, who once led the Alberta Liberals, says his tax strike is in response to news that rural municipalities in the province have been left with $173 million in unpaid property tax from energy companies.

He’s encouraging other Albertans to withhold their taxes until the ‘patch ponies up.’

Swann was joined by a rural landowner who says an oil well has been abandoned on his property for some time.

The landowner said If everyday citizens can’t get away with not paying property taxes, why should a profitable industry?

“If you don’t pay your property tax, there’s consequences but these companies seem to get away with it. We have a premier who is spending our money defending the oil industry.”

RELATED: Rural communities say oil and gas companies need to pay their bills 

Industry spokesmen say companies have been hit hard by a long-term decline in resource prices that wells, pipelines and other facilities are overvalued for tax assessment and they want the province to give them a break.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has hinted that’s what’s coming.

During a press conference Tuesday, Kenney said the oil and gas companies need to make money in order to pay their bills, saying once the economy improves, things will get better.

“For companies that are on the verge of bankruptcy that have no cash and very little in the way of assets, there’s not a lot to go after. I would just say with the municipalities, work with us to try to create the best conditions to turn that economic situation around.”

Al Kemmere of Alberta Rural Municipalities says another revenue reduction, on top of new provincially imposed policing costs, could make some communities non-viable.


The Canadian Press

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