Not-for-profits face application process to avoid property taxes

City of Iqaluit sets aside $300,000 to subsidize exempted groups

Iqaluit city councillors voted unanimously Tuesday evening to make not-for-profit organizations apply for their property tax exemptions. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

For at least one not-for-profit group in Iqaluit, paying property taxes would be a huge strain on its operations.

“We don’t make any money,” said Islamic Society of Nunavut president Syed Asif. “We are really struggling with that. It’s going to be adversely impacting if any kind of tax is laid on us.”

That’s the prospect all not-for-profits in the city will now face.

To get a property tax exemption, they’ll have to apply for it, after city council’s approval of a bylaw Tuesday to provide tax relief to charities and non-profit organizations.

The city has set aside $300,000 from general tax revenue to subsidize property taxes for not-for-profit organizations. It will decide which of them get a tax break based on an application they may submit.

Applicants looking for tax-exempt status must fit into at least four of 14 categories spelled out in a city policy, such as being a church or a daycare, providing a social service in the community or recreational activities the city doesn’t provide, and show a financial need for the tax relief.

The groups must also share information about how their revenues are used and what services they provide to the public.

Not-for-profit groups will get either a full exemption, which is for organizations that provide a priority service, or a partial exemption, for those that provide a secondary need that the city may or may not also provide, according to the policy.

The options for partial exemptions are a 35, 50 and 70 per cent reduction.

Council will review the applications annually, according to the bylaw.

Previously, not-for-profit groups were either fully exempt or not exempted. Previously, fourteen organizations were exempted from paying property tax, including the Royal Canadian Legion, Kisarvik Society, Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum, Uquutaq Society and some places of worship.

Asif said he’s not concerned about the Iqaluit Masjid losing its property-tax exemption because it serves as a community centre and provides a valuable service.

Two Saturdays every month, it runs a food drive out of the masjid that services 80 to 100 families, Muslim or not.

The money the society does make is from donations, which keeps the masjid lit and warm, he said.

“We’re not making any kind of business, not making any money. [It’s] … for the community, keeping people together,” Asif said.

City council began the process of changing the bylaw in February 2021 when it directed staff to look into the possibility of using a sliding scale rather than only a full exemption..

The issue flared up again in June 2021 when, after news that 751 children’s remains were located in unmarked graves at the Marieval Indian Residential school, east of Regina, Sask., Mayor Kenny Bell announced he would call for for churches in Iqaluit to pay property taxes.

He later backed away from that announcement, citing council’s decision in February that year.


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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Not Me, Not Me on

    If you consume city services then someone has to pay for those services.
    If you drink tap water, bath in it, cook with it, or wash dishes, someone has to pay for water treatment and delivery. Someone has to defrost the frozen pipes and unplug sewage lines. That person needs to be paid, or they will find something else to do.
    Do you take your waste to the dump or burn it, or does someone else make your garbage “disappear”? Do you appreciate having streetlights? Do you shovel the snow from the road in front of where you live, or does someone else do it? Do your children use the playgrounds? Are you one of those who voted for the Iqaluit Swimming Pool? Do you use it?
    So many city services.
    Property owners are not the only ones that pay property taxes. Those who rent property to others include the property tax cost in the rent they charge. So renters also pay property taxes.
    Probably the biggest source of city revenue is the monthly “water bill”, not the annual property tax. But it’s all money paid by Iqaluit residents to provide the city with the ability to pay those who render the services we all use.
    Should kids have to pay for city services?
    Shoud elders have to pay for city services?
    Some day, all city services will be provided by robots owned by the city. Then the city will only need enough revenue to pay for maintenance of those robots.
    Until that day, for us to benefit from civilization, people will have to deliver city services, and people will have to pay for their work.
    The only issue is, how to equitably divide up the bill.

  2. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Huh!?! Under what whacky definition is the Royal Canadian Legion considered a not for profit? It is one of the most profitable enterprises in the city. While I acknowledge that the Legion does a great deal for the community so do dozens of other well established businesses none of whom would have the gall to apply for “not for profit status”.

  3. Posted by pissed off on

    Whether you like it or not the status of“ non profit“ should be regulated by the Federal income tax act and not by a specific municipality. That is not in their legal capacity. This could lead to all kinds of injustices based on the whims of a few.

    If you don`t like this then go to the Feds to change the rules os admissibility nationwide.
    On the other hand a properly laid out “ municipal services“ set of rates for water, sewer, garbage and other should be in place and those should be paid by ALL USERS


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