A pumpjack works at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Alberta’s rural municipalities say the amount of unpaid property taxes they’re owed by oil and gas companies has more than doubled over the past year.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Tax revolt? Unpaid taxes from energy companies to Alberta towns more than double

The association says they are owed a total of $173 million

Alberta’s rural municipalities say the amount of unpaid property taxes they’re owed by oil and gas companies has more than doubled over the past year.

The association says they are owed a total of $173 million — a 114 per cent increase over last spring.

Years of low oil prices have left many small producers in dire straits.

But rural officials say recent court decisions have left them powerless to collect tax money owed them by financially troubled companies.

As well, they say the provincial government recently ended a program which refunded them money they lost by reducing taxes for certain kinds of wells.

Reeve Paul McLauchlin of Ponoka County, where unpaid taxes amount to about 10 per cent of overall revenues, suggests the non-payment amounts to a tax revolt by an industry looking to cut costs wherever it can.

He says some of those taxes are owed by companies that are still operating and viable.

The Canadian Press

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