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WHEREAS notice, payment and receipt of municipal property taxes within the Province of Alberta are governed by the Municipal Government Act, being Chapter M-26, R.S.A. 2000 (MGA); and
WHEREAS deemed receipt of tax payment by a municipality is set out in Section 341 of the MGA such that a tax payment by mail is deemed to have been received by the municipality on the date of the postmark stamped on the envelope; and
WHEREAS Section 341 is worded such that “postmark” is an ambiguous term and open to numerous interpretations; and
WHEREAS the postage meter stamp on an envelope is not an objective indication of when the envelope was actually mailed; and
WHEREAS a postmark attached or made by Canada Post or equivalent postal service, on the envelope is an objective indication of the day the envelope was mailed;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that AAMDC urge the Government of Alberta to clarify the ambiguity of the word “postmark” in the Municipal Government Act with the intent of clearly defining what is an acceptable postmark.
The County of Stettler No. 6 recently participated in a court challenge with a ratepayer whose taxes were received in an envelope bearing a postage meter stamp but not a post mark attached by a postal outlet. The County of Stettler deemed the postage meter stamp to be an inadequate postmark according to its interpretation of Section 341 of the MGA. The Court of Queen’s Bench has ruled that the postage meter stamp was an acceptable postmark.
In our experience, the postage meter stamp is not an objective indication of when the envelope was actually mailed. A postmark, as we had interpreted it, would mean a mark or attachment from or made by a postal service, in most cases, Canada Post. Alternatively, you could specify that “postmark” does not include a postage meter stamp. The definition of postmark should be included in the MGA under definitions to avoid confusion and costly court cases for municipalities in the future.
The AAMDC has no current resolutions directly related to this issue.
Municipal Affairs will be undertaking a staged comprehensive review of the Municipal Government Act and will take this recommendation into consideration when conducting the review.
While the Government of Alberta has responded that they will take the issue into consideration and that a review will take place, the department continues to give no input into the substance of the resolution. The AAMDC will continue to advocate this position as a review moves forward.