2006 Property Tax Assistance Program
From 1987 to 2006 City Council has approved property tax assistance programs to
assist low-income homeowners. The Property Tax Assistance Program (PTAP) was
designed to provide assistance to residential property tax payers experiencing financial
hardship resulting from a property tax increase. The program was also designed to
improve access to community programs and services to individuals at risk from social
problems. The 2006 PTAP was a joint effort between the Finance and Supply Business
Unit and Community and Neighborhood Services, Seniors Services Division.
To be eligible for the PTAP citizens had to meet criteria as follows:
Low income ($20,778 for a single person and $25,867 for a couple)
A residential property owner
Residing in their own home
Own no other property
Applicants had to agree to provide proof of income that was at or below the Low Income
Cut Off numbers (LICO). Finance Customer Service and 311 representatives used these
criteria to do a preliminary screening of potential applicants.
Property owners were advised of the PTAP through an insert with the property tax bills
sent out in May 2006. Other means of providing information about the program included
promotion by City Links staff, articles in the various seniors’ newsletters, word of mouth,
internet exposure via The City of Calgary website, inquiries to Finance and Supply
Customer service and 311. Appropriate senior serving clubs and organizations were
contacted by the Property Tax Mitigation Worker to inform them of the program. Also,
the Property Tax Mitigation Worker did some presentations for a variety of seniors-
serving organizations and flyers were distributed at events and information fairs through
Access to the PTAP was simple and straightforward. As advertised, citizens who were
interested in getting more information about the program were directed to call Finance
and Supply Customer Service and or 311. Once they did, a customer service
representative completed an application over the phone. Details such as contact
information, whether they owned other property, and if they had a property tax increase
were obtained. The applications were forwarded to the PTAP staff for assessment. The
Property Tax Mitigation Worker and/or administrative staff contacted applicants for
income information. If the applicant had difficulty sending (mailing, faxing, emailing) this
information in to The City of Calgary, the program worker responded to requests for
home visits to confirm income eligibility.
The printed materials and website information indicated eligibility criteria and included
the LICO eligibility numbers. Total applications received increased 45% from 1,245 in
2005 to 1,800 in 2006. Of the 994 approved applications, 655 were from low income
seniors which represents a 66% increase over the 394 successful senior applicants in
2005. Of the 994 successful applicants 339 were from low income homeowners under
the age of 65, including single parent families, couples and disabled individuals. This is a
155% increase over the 133 successful applicants from this group in 2005. In
comparison to 2005, there was an overall 89% increase in successful applications
coming from both senior and non-senior low income Calgarians.
Grants increased as well in 2006. The average grant went up 121% from $57 in 2005 to
$126 in 2006. Total grants awarded increased by nearly 295% from $30,931 in 2005 to
$122,082 in 2006. Funding for these grants comes from Community & Neighborhood
Services operating budget.
According to information from Statistics Canada (2001) there were 6,470 low income
senior home owners and 22,715 non-senior low-income home owners for a total of
29,185 low income home owners in Calgary in 2001. Given that not all homeowners
experienced property tax increases in 2006, it is estimated that PTAP may have been
used by as many as 20% of eligible seniors. In 2006, the marketing for the PTAP was
enhanced and expanded to include both senior and non-senior homeowners and this
could help explain the increase in the total number of applications received by this
program this year.
The table below illustrates the increase in the number of applications received, total
applications approved, total applications declined, total property tax grants awarded and
the average tax grant per year from 2001 to 2005.
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Total Applications 200 129 900 1,200 1,245 1800
Total Applications 7 70 401 873 527 994
Seniors 804 394 655
Non-Seniors 69 133 339
Total Applications 149 42 499 327 718 800
Seniors 221 426 202
Non-seniors 106 292 598
Average Property 58 44 145 70 57 126
Total Property Tax 405 3,045 58,000 61,000 30,931* 122,082*
*These figures indicate that seniors only received the increase in municipal taxes.
The Province of Alberta was offering all seniors, regardless of income, a rebate of the
increase in the education taxes from 2004 to 2006.
Any low income homeowner who was under the age of 65 and met the eligibility criteria
received both the municipal and education property tax increases from 2005 to 2006.
The City of Calgary also offers a variety of programs for low income individuals and
families like Fee Assistance, the low income bus pass, senior’s bus pass, and the child
care subsidy. Access to these programs increases participation in various recreational
and social activities and decreases isolation for all persons living on a low-fixed income.
In addition to mitigating property tax increases, the program worker has been able to
leverage funds from the federal and provincial governments for program clients. The
grants are used to pay for home repairs and/or medical expenses. The total leveraged
funds from 2001 to 2006 are illustrated in the table below:
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Provincial and $40,500 $128,942 $81,000 $136,500 $111,682 $127,987
At the end of 2006, a survey was mailed to 45 program applicants and 23 of these
individuals responded. Although respondents appreciated the program, less than half of
the applicants surveyed felt that the program helped them to continue living in their own
homes within their budget or cope with the stress of the increases in property taxes.
Other comments that were made by the respondents included significant concerns about
the future increases in property taxes, utilities, and groceries and how they were going to
pay for them.