City council approved the 2018 non-profit property tax exemptions for 20 organizations that meet the basic policy requirement of owning their properties.
The tax exemptions are good for three years under the city’s new policy, subject to annual review.
The new three-year cycle will save the organizations and city administration time and money in reduced paperwork from the previous one-year cycle of applications.
“It frees up hours for both parties,” said Mayor Gerald Aalbers at Tuesday’s council meeting.
He said under the old system every non-profit organization that was eligible to apply for tax exemption on their property would have to go through an annual process of several pages of documentation to be filled out.
“Administration came back with the policy that we are discussing today,” he said.
Council learned that eight of 28 applications received for property tax exemptions before the Oct. 20 deadline were rejected.
Six of the applications for example, didn’t meet Alberta’s Community Property Tax Exemption Regulation (COPTER).
Aside from the need for the property to be owned by the non-profit applicant COPTER requires the property to be primarily used for charitable purposes for at least 60 per cent of the time.
A special request from the Thorpe Recovery Centre Society for a tax exemption for Harris House that would have saved the charity $6500 in taxes was turned down for not meeting COPTER.
The Thorpe Society organization met the requirement of the non-profit organization property tax exemption policy, but the property didn’t because it’s been vacant.
Coun. Jonathan Torresan commented it was important to stick to the policy so it’s fair and equitable for everyone and not make exceptions.
“If you follow the policy, you stay within the realm of what you’ve laid forward and that’s what we want to do,” added Aalbers.
Coun. Glenn Fagnan explained Harris House was just listed on the real estate market last week.
“The Harris House is geared to a group home, so with that, you’ll find there is a limited amount of individuals that will purchase that type of house,” he said.
“It’s probably going to be another non profit that will be looking at that.”
Aalbers reiterated if the building is owned by the organization they can apply for the exemption.
“If it’s not owned by the organization, they can go through their landlord who can make a request to have that piece of property non taxable,” he said.