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In Alberta, tobacco tax is normally reported and remitted by licensed wholesalers and importers that are appointed as tobacco tax collectors.
The tobacco tax collector recovers the tobacco tax when the tobacco is sold, tax-includytt duded, 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:
- tobacco sticks
- 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 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 or bands. These terms have been used where necessary to reflect their legal meanings 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 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).
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.
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.
PDF form issues
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- Save the PDF form to your computer – click or right-click the link and download the form.
- Open the PDF form with Adobe Reader. Fill it in and save it.
If you are still having problems opening the form, contact PDF form technical support.
How to register
Step 1: Create or log in to your MyAlberta Digital ID account
- Create or log in to your MyAlberta Digital ID account.
Step 2: Sign in and select Online Registration
- After you create a MyAlberta Digital ID account, login to TRACS. You will need to sign in using your MyAlberta Digital Identity user name and password. Once you log in, you will be redirected to TRACS.
- Select 'Program Registration'.
- Select 'Tobacco Tax' from the Program Name menu.
Step 3: Complete and submit the online registration form
- After you submit your registration, you will receive a pending status notification and a reference number. TRA may need to contact you for further information.
Step 4: Review and sign collector agreement (if applicable)
- TRA will send you a copy of a Tobacco Collector Agreement (the Agreement) by secure email.
- 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.
- Submit your signed Agreement to TRA.
Step 5: Once approved
- You will be notified by email that your approval letter or licence is available in your TRACS account.
How to file
Step 1: Register for TRACS (TRA Client Self-Service)
- Complete the TRACS Enrolment Request to enrol in TRACS or contact TRA.
- Visit the TRACS page for more information.
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.
- Complete your tobacco tax return online using TRACS.
- Print the confirmation page for your records.
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.
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:
- file returns
- upload or view tax memos
- submit documents
- confirm receipt, completion and submission details 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:
- Tobacco Tax Memo File Format and Processing Instructions (September 2022)
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:
- Tobacco Tax Memo (XSD) (April 2014)
How to authorize a representative
An individual with proper authorization for the business may consent to the release of confidential information about account(s) with TRA to a specific firm and/or individual.
An individual with proper authorization for the business includes a(n):
- partner of a partnership
- corporate director
- trustee of an estate
- individual with delegated authority
Step 1: Fill out the Alberta Consent Form
- Complete the Alberta Consent Form (AT4931) (PDF, 328 KB).
Step 2: Submit the consent form
- Submit your completed consent form to TRA.
Step 3: Representative receives PIN (only for TRACS access)
- TRA will review the consent form to ensure it is complete.
- TRA will issue a PIN number to the individual via secure e-mail. TRACS access can only be provided to an individual.
The representative must enter the PIN and account number to access TRACS account. See How to access TRACS for instructions.
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 of tax on tobacco sold to an eligible consumer, see the AITE page.
Duty free retailers
In order to sell tobacco exempt from tax at a duty free shop in Alberta:
- the duty free shop must first be licensed as a duty free shop for federal purposes,
- and then may register for Alberta purposes by sending a written request to [email protected].
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):
- AT4771 - effective March 1, 2022 (PDF, 844 KB)
- AT4771 - effective October 25, 2019 to February 28, 2022 (PDF, 321 KB)
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
Submit your completed refund application to TRA.
Step 4: Submit supporting documents
- Documents that support your refund application may be requested. Refer to Information Circular TTA-5, Administration, for the types of documents that may be required to support your application.
Step 5: Receive your refund
- After your claim has been assessed, you will receive your refund by direct deposit or cheque.
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
Budget 2022 was introduced in the Alberta Legislature on February 24, 2022 and includes a tax decrease on smokeless tobacco effective at 12:01 a.m. on March 1, 2022.
Registered tobacco tax collectors, wholesalers (non-collectors) and retailers can apply for a refund on the tax differential for smokeless tobacco inventories by completing and submitting a declaration of inventory. 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 form on or before February 28, 2023.
Step 1: Take an inventory of all smokeless tobacco for sale in Alberta
- The physical count should be taken after close on February 28 or before opening on March 1.
Step 2: Complete your inventory declaration form
- Tobacco tax collectors: Declaration of Inventory of Tobacco Products (PDF, 754 KB) (AT378)
- Submit these documents in your TRACS account using Submit Documents on or before February 28, 2023.
- Wholesalers (non-collectors) and retailers: Tobacco Tax Refund Application – Smokeless Tobacco Inventory Declaration (PDF, 250 KB) (AT380)
- Email the completed form to [email protected] on or before February 28, 2023
Step 3: Refunds
- Tax collectors: reduce the amount payable on the March 31, 2022 tobacco tax return using the Tax Rate Adjustment line.
- Wholesalers (non-collectors) and retailers: Once approved, a cheque will be issued.
For more information, refer to Special Notice Vol. 3 No. 18 – Budget 2022 Implementation of New Category and Tax Rate for Smokeless Tobacco (February 24, 2022)
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
- TRA-1R2 – Introduction to Tax and Revenue Administration (December 2021)
- TRA-2 – TRA Fairness and Service Pledge (July 2018)
- TRA-3 – Alberta Commodity Tax Acts – Voluntary Disclosures (November 2018)
Tobacco Tax Act information circulars
- TTA-1R5 – Overview of the Alberta Tobacco Tax Program (June 2021)
- TTA-2R4 – Information for Tobacco Tax Collectors, Wholesalers, Importers and Retailers (June 2021)
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.
Tobacco Tax Act special notices
- Special Notice Vol. 3 No. 18 – Budget 2022 Implementation of New Category and Tax Rate for Smokeless Tobacco (February 24, 2022)
AITE retailers approved to sell black stock tobacco
Registrants under the Tobacco Tax Act
- AT378 – Alberta Tobacco Tax Collectors - Declaration of Inventory of Tobacco Products (PDF, 754 KB) (February 2022)
- AT380 – Tobacco Tax Refund Application – Smokeless Tobacco Inventory Declaration (PDF, 250 KB) (February 2022)
- AT4771 – Tobacco Tax Refund Application - Retailers (PDF, 844 KB) (effective March 1, 2022)
- Previous version (PDF, 321 KB) (effective October 25, 2019 to February 28, 2022)
- AT208 – Non Alberta Marked Tobacco Importation Return (PDF, 213 KB) (February 2022)
- AT4762 – Notice of Objection (December 2020)
- AT4764 – Request for a Waiver of Penalties and Interest (PDF, 855 KB) (December 2022)
- AT4931 – Alberta Consent Form (PDF, 270 KB) (November 2020)
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