Budget 2019 was introduced in the Alberta Legislature on October 24, 2019. To further deter tobacco use and ensure tobacco tax rates keep up with inflation, Budget 2019 includes a tax increase on tobacco products. Tobacco taxes decrease the affordability of tobacco products, encouraging current users to quit and deterring non users from ever starting.

The tobacco tax increase is effective at 12:01 a.m. on October 25, 2019. The tax on a carton of 200 cigarettes will be increased by $5 to $55 per carton. The tax on loose tobacco will rise to 41.25 cents per gram, and the tax on cigars will be increased to 142% of the taxable price of the cigar, with a minimum tax per cigar of 27.5 cents and a maximum of $8.61. Registered tobacco tax collectors are expected to comply with these changes.

See Special Notice Vol. 3 No. 17, Tobacco Tax Rate Increase, or the Budget 2019 Tax Plan (PDF, 7.5 MB) for more information.

See the inventory declaration section for information on forms and remittance that must be received by Tax and Revenue Administration (TRA) on or before November 28, 2019.

Overview

In Alberta, generally tobacco tax is reported and remitted by licensed wholesalers and importers that are designated as tobacco collectors.

The tobacco collector recovers the tobacco tax when the tobacco is sold, tax-included, to the next entity in the distribution chain.

The purchase of tobacco, tax-included, and the recovery of the tobacco tax when the tobacco is resold, continues until the tobacco is sold to a consumer. Then the consumer pays the tobacco tax, which is included in the purchase price.

Tobacco tax is applied to all tobacco, including:

  • cigarettes
  • tobacco sticks
  • cigars
  • cigarillos
  • pipe tobacco
  • water pipe tobacco
  • raw leaf tobacco
  • loose tobacco
  • chewing tobacco
  • snuff tobacco

Alberta retailers are generally not required to register or be licensed with the Government of Alberta to sell tobacco, unless they are located on a reserve or are a duty-free shop.

Retailers are required to purchase all tobacco from wholesalers or importers licensed in Alberta.

Alberta’s tobacco stamp

Each package, carton and case of cigarettes, tobacco sticks or fine cut tobacco for tax-paid sale in Alberta are required to be marked with the Alberta stamp (see example below).

Alberta tobacco tax stamp

Alberta stamps are available in the following denominations:

  • cigarettes: 20 and 25 units
  • tobacco: 50, 100, 150, 200, 250 and 400 grams

Cartons are marked with a stamp applied to or imprinted on, each end-sticker that seals the end flaps of the carton. The stamp has a red background in a black rectangle and “ALBERTA” printed in black.

Cases are marked on two opposite sides with “ALBERTA” printed in black.

Tobacco stamped or marked for sale in other provinces cannot be sold in Alberta.

Manufacturers and importers can obtain Alberta stamps through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) using the established process to obtain federal excise (tobacco) stamps. More information on this process can be found by visiting CRA’s website.

Unmarked and black stock

The Government of Alberta recognizes that many First Nations people and communities in the province prefer not to describe themselves as Indians/Indian bands. These terms have been used where necessary to reflect their legal meaning in the federal Indian Act.

Alberta unmarked tobacco

Pipe tobacco, cigars, loose tobacco and raw leaf tobacco intended for sale in Alberta are not marked with an Alberta stamp. However, they will still have a federal stamp.

Alberta unmarked tobacco for sale must be purchased tax-included, unless sold to another Alberta licensed tobacco tax collector.

Black stock

Black stock is tobacco product, including cigarettes, tobacco sticks and fine cut tobacco, that is:

  • not stamped or marked for sale in a particular province
  • stamped or marked as required by the federal legislation or regulation

Only Alberta Indian Tax Exemption (AITE) retailers and duty free shops can purchase black stock for sale to consumers in Alberta.

Black stock may be exported to Canadian jurisdictions that do not have a provincial or territorial stamp.

Importers and wholesalers

The Tobacco Tax Act requires all wholesalers and importers to be licensed to sell or import tobacco for resale in Alberta.

Licensed wholesalers, licensed importers, and manufacturers in Alberta, supply tobacco to Alberta as the first step in the distribution chain. Tobacco tax collectors are required to collect and remit the tobacco tax to Tax and Revenue Administration (TRA).

Importers

An importer is a person who imports or brings tobacco into Alberta for sale to a consumer or for resale. An importer is required to be licensed to bring product into Alberta for resale.

Licensed importers are appointed as tobacco tax collectors, and are required to report and remit the tobacco tax on product imported into Alberta on a monthly basis, even if the return is nil.

Wholesalers

A wholesaler is a person, including a manufacturer, who sells, or offers for sale, tobacco for resale.

Wholesalers may be appointed as either a tobacco tax collector or a non-collector. TRA will review each tobacco licence application to decide whether to appoint a wholesaler as either a tobacco tax collector or non-collector. The appointment is based on the activities conducted by the wholesaler (e.g., importing, exporting, who they acquire tobacco from, etc.).

Licensed wholesalers appointed as tobacco tax collectors are required to report and remit the tobacco tax on product sold into Alberta on a monthly basis even if the return in nil.

Form instructions

Trouble opening or completing fillable PDF forms?

Fillable PDF forms do not open properly on some mobile devices and web browsers. If the form doesn't open, or you can't complete the form, or you see a "please wait" message, follow these steps to complete and save fillable forms from Tax and Revenue Administration (TRA):

  1. Right-click on the form link and select "Save Target As" or "Save Link As", and save the form to your computer.
  2. Launch Adobe Reader.
  3. Open the PDF from within Adobe Reader. You can now fill and save your form.

To submit your forms

Forms cannot be sent through email. Complete and print your forms and bring, mail or fax them to TRA.

How to register

Step 1: Fill out the application form

Step 2: Submit forms

  • Bring, mail or fax your completed forms to TRA.

Step 3: Review and sign collector agreement (if applicable)

  • TRA will send you a copy of a Tobacco Collector Agreement (the Agreement).
  • Review the conditions outlined in the Agreement.
  • An authorized signing representative must sign and date the document in the presence of a witness, who must also sign the Agreement.
  • Bring, mail or fax your signed Agreement to TRA.

Step 4: Once approved

  • You will receive an approval letter and a copy of the Agreement signed by a TRA representative by mail.

How to file

Step 1: Register for TRACS (TRA Client Self-Service)

Step 2: Complete your return

Returns are due on the 28th day after the end of the month for each period. A penalty will be charged if you file your return late.

Online:

  • Complete your tobacco tax return online using TRACS.
  • Print the confirmation page for your records.

Paper:

Also complete the following schedules (if applicable):

Step 3: Remit the tax collected and view the Notice of Assessment

Remit the tobacco tax owing on or before the 28th day of the month following the period end.

Interest will be charged on late remittances and will continue to accrue until the balance is paid in full.

If there were changes made to your return or a balance is owing, a notice of assessment will be available in your TRACS account under View Assessments.

Tobacco tax inventory declaration

Budget 2019 was introduced in the Alberta Legislature on October 24, 2019 and includes a tax increase on tobacco products effective at 12:01 a.m. on October 25, 2019. Registered tobacco collectors are expected to comply with this change.

A registered tobacco tax collector must file a Declaration of Inventory of Tobacco Products (AT378) (PDF, 274 KB) and if applicable, a Declaration of Inventory of Cigars (AT379) (PDF, 262 KB). The Inventory declaration must include all stock, on and off premises, including:

  • stock held at a location in Alberta where tobacco is also sold to retailers
  • dry and damaged stock to be returned to the supplier
  • stock in transit from suppliers and invoiced at old rates
  • stock invoiced to a customer but still on the property

TRA must receive the inventory declaration forms and remittance on or before November 28, 2019.

Step 1: Take an inventory of all tobacco products and cigars for sale in Alberta

Step 2: Complete your inventory declaration forms

Step 3: Remit the tax

  • Remit the tax owing to TRA (see Making payments) on or before November 28, 2019.
  • Interest will be charged on late remittances and will continue to accrue until the balance is paid in full.

For more information, refer to Special Notice Vol. 3 No. 17 – Tobacco Tax Rate Increase (October 2019).

How to pay

Maintain your account in TRACS

TRA Client Self-Service (TRACS) is a secure online system for authorized clients to conveniently conduct business with TRA. You can do the following tasks in TRACS:

  • submit documents
  • confirm receipt and completion of submitted returns
  • view status of prior assessments, financial details and notices of assessment and reassessment
  • access financial information and view account period balances
  • update address and contact information
  • delegate account access to other employees or authorized individuals

For more details, instructional videos and to log in to your TRACS account, see TRACS information.

Electronic submission of tobacco tax memo

Tobacco tax memo suppliers with Tax and Revenue Administration Client Self-Service (TRACS) accounts are able to submit tobacco tax memos electronically, formatted to TRA standards.

File format requirements

Refer to the following document for information on the file format, field definitions and additional instructions on how to create an XML file:

Prior to uploading and submitting the XML file, refer to the following document to validate and test it, to ensure it conforms to TRA’s business rules and formatting requirements:

Retailers

A retailer is a person who purchases tobacco from a licensed wholesaler or licensed importer for sale to consumers.

Alberta retailers are generally not required to register or be licensed with the Government of Alberta to sell tobacco unless they are located on a reserve or are a duty-free shop.

All retailers are required to purchase tobacco tax-included from licensed wholesalers and importers. This includes black stock and Alberta unmarked tobacco product.

Alberta Indian Tax Exemption (AITE) retailers

Retailers located on a reserve must be registered as an AITE retailer. For more information on how to register as an AITE retailer, and how to apply for a refund when tobacco is sold to an eligible consumer, see the AITE page.

Duty free retailers

Duty free shops must register by completing and submitting the Alberta Duty Free Shop Registration (form AT216) (PDF, 281 KB) to TRA.

How to apply for a refund

Retailers or wholesalers (non-collectors) may apply for a refund of tobacco tax when:

  • tobacco was sold on credit to a retailer or another wholesaler and all or a portion of the debt has become uncollectible (bad debt)
  • tobacco was stolen or destroyed before being sold to a consumer
  • tobacco became stale-dated and cannot be returned to the manufacturer or supplier

Step 1: Notify TRA of the event

You are required to notify TRA in writing when one of the events occurs within 30 days of:

  • uncollectible debt – the day you notified of the receivership or bankruptcy
  • stolen or destroyed tobacco – the day you became aware of the loss
  • stale-dated tobacco – when you first became aware of the stale-dated tobacco

Step 2: Complete your refund application

Complete and print the appropriate Tobacco Tax Refund Application (AT4771):

Step 3: Submit your refund application

TRA must receive the refund application within:

  • uncollectible debt – 90 days of the earlier of:
    • the date you received a notice of bankruptcy or notice appointing a receiver, or
    • the date you identified the debt as uncollectible for income tax purposes
  • stolen or destroyed tobacco – 1 year of when you first became aware of the theft or destruction
  • stale-dated tobacco – 1 year of when you first became aware of the stale-dated tobacco

Bring, mail or fax your completed refund application to TRA.

Step 4: Submit supporting documents

Step 5: Receive your refund

  • After your claim has been assessed, you will receive your refund by direct deposit or cheque.

How to set up direct deposit

Consumers

Consumer possession limits

The Tobacco Tax Act prohibits a consumer from possessing without a permit:

  • more than 1000 cigarettes
  • more than 1000 tobacco sticks
  • more than 1000 grams of fine cut tobacco
  • cigars that contain more than 1000 grams of tobacco
  • any combination of tobacco containing more than 1000 grams of tobacco

A consumer must apply to TRA for a permit to possess more than the quantities noted above. To apply, a consumer must send a written request stating the reasons for requiring the excess quantities and what the tobacco will be used for.

Importing tobacco from outside Canada

Alberta tobacco tax applies to tobacco imported into Alberta by residents returning to Alberta from outside Canada where the quantity of tobacco imported exceeds or does not qualify for the federal traveller’s customs exemption.

For more information on the federal exemption, visit the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) website.

Importing tobacco from another province or territory

Consumers bringing tobacco into Alberta that was purchased in another province or territory are required to report the importation and pay the Alberta tobacco tax to TRA within 10 days.

When the consumer has been out of Alberta for more than 48 hours, the federal exemption limits may apply on cigarettes, tobacco sticks or manufactured tobacco if the product is stamped or marked federally or provincially.

To report the importation, complete the Non Alberta Marked Tobacco Importation Return (AT208) (PDF, 306 KB) and submit to TRA.

How to pay

Publications

Information circulars

These documents discuss procedural matters and administrative policies and practices for programs administered by TRA. They are updated as necessary and a revision number assigned.

Cross-program information circulars

Tobacco Tax Act information circulars

AITE retailers approved to sell black stock tobacco

Registrants under the Tobacco Tax Act

Special notices

These documents are used to announce changes to the legislation administered by TRA, or changes to administrative policies and practices carried out by TRA. These notices are time-specific, and meant to be transitory in nature. The information may eventually be incorporated into other publications, such as information circulars or web content.

Forms

If you have trouble opening or completing fillable PDF forms, see these instructions.

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Contact

To submit forms

Please note: forms cannot be sent through email. Complete and print your forms and bring, mail or fax them to:

Tax and Revenue Administration
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance
9811 109 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta  T5K 2L5

Fax: 780-427-0348

To connect with Tax and Revenue Administration

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-427-3044
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: tra.revenue@gov.ab.ca