Al­berta to amend car­bon tax re­bate rules


Lethbridge Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Dean Ben­nett THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — ED­MON­TON

Al­berta is bring­ing in new rules to make amends to 4,400 fam­i­lies who lost a loved one and were or­dered to pay back their car­bon tax re­bate.

“For a rel­a­tively small num­ber of fam­i­lies, the pro­gram didn’t work as it should have,” Fi­nance Min­is­ter Joe Ceci said Wed­nes­day.

“These fam­i­lies re­ceived bluntly worded let­ters from the Canada Rev­enue Agency ask­ing them to re­pay all or part of the re­bate be­cause the death of a loved one changed their el­i­gi­bil­ity.

“Griev­ing fam­i­lies should not face the in­dig­nity of a col­lec­tion let­ter de­mand­ing the re­pay­ment of a ben­e­fit that is sup­posed to make their lives bet­ter.”

Ceci made the changes in a tax statutes amend­ment bill in­tro­duced in the leg­is­la­ture Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

The prov­ince will no longer seek the re­turn of re­bates due to death. Those who re­ceived the re­bate on be­half of a loved one and paid it back will be re­im­bursed.

All re­bates will be dis­patched quar­terly. Some smaller amounts had been paid out in a lump sum.

The pay­outs are tied to a broad-based car­bon tax the prov­ince in­tro­duced Jan. 1 which in­creased costs at gaso­line pumps and on home heat­ing bills. The tax is in­tended to pay for ini­tia­tives and pro­grams to move Al­berta to a more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly econ­omy.

Mid­dle- and low-in­come earn­ers — about six in 10 house­holds — re­ceive re­bates on a slid­ing scale to give them in­cen­tives to go green, but they’re not pun­ished if they don’t.

In Jan­uary, the prov­ince de­liv­ered some lump-sum re­bates in a pro­gram ad­min­is­tered through the Canada Rev­enue Agency. By March, some Al­ber­tans were say­ing they were re­ceiv­ing col­lec­tion let­ters from Ot­tawa de­mand­ing re­pay­ment af­ter a death.

There were sto­ries of a col­lec­tion de­mand on a cancer-stricken mom who used her $180 car­bon tax re­bate to buy gifts for her kids be­fore she died.

A se­nior whose wife died said he got a let­ter de­mand­ing he re­turn the car­bon tax re­bate she had re­ceived.

A daugh­ter tak­ing care of the es­tate of her de­ceased mother re­ceived a no­tice to re­pay the $100 re­bate.

Ceci said he has spo­ken per­son­ally with some of those af­fected.

“I want them to know we un­der­stand their frus­tra­tion,” he said. “As soon as we be­came aware of this is­sue in March, we took ac­tion.”

Ceci said the Canada Rev­enue Agency was do­ing its job prop­erly in send­ing out the let­ters and the fault lay with his de­part­ment.

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