To encourage Albertans to reduce carbon pollution from their cars and homes, a carbon levy is charged on all transportation and heating fuels that emit greenhouse gases when burned.
The levy provides a financial incentive for families, businesses and communities to become more energy efficient and move away from higher-emission fuels.
As part of the Climate Leadership Plan, revenue from the levy will be used to pay for initiatives that reduce emissions and support adaptation and transition to a lower carbon economy, including:
- rebates for Albertans to offset cost increases
- renewable energy projects and electricity transition supports
- industrial and consumer energy efficiency programs
- indigenous climate leadership initiatives
- transit and infrastructure projects
The carbon levy is applied to diesel, gasoline, natural gas and propane at the gas station and on heating bills. It does not apply to electricity.
Certain fuels, such as marked gas and diesel used on farms, are exempt.
The levy rate is based on the amount of carbon pollution that is released by the fuel, not the mass of fuel itself.
Table 1. Carbon levy on major fuels
|Type of Fuel||2017 rate
Jan 1, 2018
|Marked farm fuels||Exempt||Exempt||Exempt|
|Diesel||5.35 ¢/L||+2.68 ¢/L||8.03 ¢/L|
|Gasoline||4.49 ¢/L||+2.24 ¢/L||6.73 ¢/L|
|Natural Gas||1.011 $/GJ||+0.506 $/GJ||1.517 $/GJ|
|Propane||3.08 ¢/L||+1.54 ¢/L||4.62 ¢/L|
Source: Alberta Climate Change Office
Carbon levy rates: page 106 of the 2016-19 Fiscal Plan (PDF, 3.1 MB)
Cost on households
The amount of carbon levy you pay will depend on your energy use and driving patterns.
You can reduce costs by taking steps to lower emissions by:
- taking advantage of energy efficiency programs
- turning down the heat at night and when no one is home
- installing smart thermostats
- choosing more fuel efficient cars
- using public transit, walking or biking
Table 2. Estimated direct costs of the carbon levy on a household per year.
|Single||Couple||Couple with 2 children|
|Typical fuel use assumptions||Natural gas use (GJ)||100||123||135|
|Gasoline use (L)||2,000||3,000||4,500|
|2018 costs and rebates||Natural gas cost||$152||$186||$205|
|Total levy cost||$286||$388||$508|
Source: Alberta Treasury Board and Finance
Estimated indirect costs
Businesses may pass some costs related to the carbon levy on to consumers. However, the increase is expected to be relatively small, since commodities imported from outside the province are not subject to the levy.
The indirect costs are estimated to range from $75 to $110 per household in 2018.
Indirect costs were calculated using Statistics Canada's Social Policy Simulation Database and Model. The assumptions and calculations underlying the simulation results were prepared by Treasury Board and Finance, and the responsibility for the use and interpretation of these data is entirely that of the author. To develop the ranges, it's assumed that businesses subject to the levy pass 50% to 75% of the related costs on to consumers.
Alberta's tax advantage
With no provincial sales tax, payroll tax or health-care premiums, Albertans across all income ranges generally pay the lowest overall taxes compared with other provinces.
If Alberta had the same taxes and carbon charges as any other province, Albertans and Alberta businesses would pay at least $11.2 billion more in total taxes in 2018-19.
Carbon levy rebates
Single Albertans who earn less than $47,500/year and families who earn less than $95,000/year will receive a full rebate to offset costs associated with the carbon levy.
Carbon levy rebates protect low- and middle-income Albertans who spend a higher percentage of their income on energy costs and have fewer financial resources to invest in energy efficiency products. An estimated 60% of households will get a full or partial rebate.
Rebates are based on your family net income and the number of people in your household. It’s not tied to energy use, so there’s still an incentive to reduce household emissions.
To automatically receive a rebate you must:
- be an Alberta resident
- file a tax return
- meet the income criteria
Table 3. Rebate income criteria
|Rebate amounts||First adult||$300|
|Spouse/Equivalent to spouse||$150|
|Each child (maximum 4)||$45|
|Maximum family net income to receive full rebate||Single||$47,500|
Source: Alberta Treasury Board and Finance
Rebates will be mailed or deposited directly by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in 4 quarterly payments: January, April, July and October.
If you have a spouse or common-law partner, the rebate will be paid to the person whose tax return is assessed first.
Table 4. Maximum quarterly payment amounts
|2017-18 benefit year||2018-19 benefit year|
|Jan 2018||Apr 2018||Jul 2018||Oct 2018||Jan 2019||Apr 2019|
|Spouse/equivalent to spouse||$37.50||$37.50||$37.50||$37.50||$37.50||$37.50|
|Each child (max 4)||$11.25||$11.25||$11.25||$11.25||$11.25||$11.25|
Source: Alberta Treasury Board and Finance
CRA will use your 2017 tax return to calculate rebates for the 2018-19 benefit year. Payment information will be sent to you in July 2018. If the quarterly rebate for your household is less than $25, you will not get a payment.
Changes in household status
The carbon rebate is paid in the second month of each 3-month eligibility period. If your household status changes during the benefit period, your eligibility for the rebate may change. For example:
- if you have another child, your household may qualify for a greater rebate
- if your family leaves Alberta, you may have to return some money for the months you were not living in the province
The CRA reassesses eligibility on a regular basis, as updated household information is received.
- If your household qualifies for a greater rebate than what was originally paid, the CRA will issue an additional payment for the difference.
- If your household qualifies for a smaller rebate, or no rebate, you will receive a letter from CRA indicating the amount you will have to return. To find out how to return payments, contact the CRA at 1-800-959-2809.
If your household receives a rebate for a family member who has died, the amount owing will be forgiven so the rebate will not have to be returned.
Reinvesting in our economy
The Climate Leadership Plan, including the carbon levy, contributes to economic diversification, good jobs and reduced emissions.
$5.3 billion will be spent to advance climate leadership initiatives over the next 3 years including public transit, innovation research, energy efficiency programs, infrastructure projects and support to Indigenous communities.
- $1.6 billion over 3 years to provide carbon levy rebates to over 60% of Albertans to offset costs associated with the carbon levy
- $680 million over 3 years to support Alberta's transition away from coal-generated electricity, including financial supports for coal workers and communities, and to cap electricity prices to protect families, farms and small businesses
- $662 million over 3 years to support energy efficiency projects to help Albertans and businesses reduce energy use
- $145 million over 3 years to support climate leadership initiatives in Indigenous communities
- $1.3 billion in funding for a variety of programs to enable greater public use of transit
- $521 million over 3 years to support innovation and technology development
- $386 million over 3 years for future programming or an expansion of existing programs and initiatives, as well as funding for delivery of programming across government
An additional $632 million will provide tax relief to businesses through the small business tax rate cut and the Capital Investment Tax Credit - Clean Tech Stream.
Support for businesses
Small business tax cut
Alberta’s small business corporate income tax rate was reduced from 3% to 2% in Jan 2017 to help businesses adjust to the carbon levy. It’s estimated to save small business owners $195 million in 2018-19.
With the tax relief, Alberta is now tied with Saskatchewan for the second-lowest provincial small business tax rate. While Manitoba has a lower rate, Alberta small business owners pay lower taxes when they take money out of their business for personal use.
Alberta maintains the lowest overall tax regime in Canada, with no provincial sales tax, health premium or payroll tax.
Find more small business supports.
Administering the carbon levy
Registration forms, guides and instructional videos are available for businesses that are responsible for remitting the carbon levy, such as retailers of fuels.
Businesses that sell certain fuels – such as gasoline, diesel, propane, kerosene, butane and more – may need to complete a carbon levy inventory declaration.
For more information, visit Tax and Revenue Administration.
Support for farmers
Energy efficiency programs for farms
The Climate Leadership Plan is funding programs to help farm operations reduce emissions and save on energy bills through efficiency upgrades:
- Farm Energy and Agri-Processing Program is designed to encourage energy management which will result in cost savings, energy conservation, and ultimately, reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
- On-Farm Solar PV Program helps producers buy grid-connected solar panel systems that can be used to generate electricity and reduce emissions on farms.
- Irrigation Efficiency Program helps producers invest in new or upgraded low-pressure irrigation equipment to improve water efficiency and reduce energy use.
Farm fuel exemption
The carbon levy does not apply to dyed diesel or gasoline used in farming operations. Agriculture is the only economic sector with a levy exemption.
The farm fuel carbon levy exemption uses the same eligibility criteria as the Alberta Farm Fuel Benefit (AFFB) fuel tax exemption. The AFFB registration number will also be used for the carbon levy exemption certificate.
Carbon levy exemptions
In addition to marked farm fuel, some other fuels are exempt from the carbon levy, including the following:
- purchases of fuel on reserves or at other prescribed locations by eligible First Nations and individuals for personal and band use
- marked gasoline and diesel used by farmers in farming operations
- biofuels, including biomethane, biodiesel and ethanol
- inter-jurisdictional flights
- fuel sold for export
- industrial exemptions in cases where fuel is used in industrial processes but not combusted
- fuel consumed in an eligible production process by small conventional oil and gas producers (until Jan 1, 2023)
- the use of heating fuels on sites subject to the Specified Gas Emitters Regulations (SGER)/output-based allocation regime
For a full list of carbon levy exemptions, see pages 94-96 of the 2016-19 Fiscal Plan (PDF, 3.1 MB)
Large industrial emitters
Large Industrial Emitters transitioned from the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER) framework to the Carbon Competitiveness Incentives program on Jan 1, 2018.
The new program, which is endorsed by energy leaders, is designed to:
- reduce emissions from large industrial emitters
- attract investment in clean technology
- create jobs and diversify our economy
It's expected to cut emissions by 20 million tonnes by 2020, and 50 million tonnes by 2030.
On-site combustion in conventional oil and gas will be levied starting Jan 1, 2023 while that sector works to reduce methane under the government’s new joint initiative on methane reduction and verification.