Land Tax on Outfitters
Res #: 24-10A
Responses Received: No
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Municipal Affairs
WHEREAS the Permitted Grazing Leases within the Saskatchewan Environmental Forest areas are presently being taxed for the use of the lands;
WHEREAS the outfitter companies are also using certain blocks within the forest and not being taxed; and
WHEREAS outfitter companies are permitted to use those lands that are also permitted to the leases;
BE IT RESOLVED that The Municipalities Act be reviewed with respect to the ability for municipalities to place a land tax on those outfitter areas within the forest; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that Saskatchewan Environment be required to provide the information to the rural municipalities with respect to the quarter sections that the outfitter companies use.
Response from Honourable Jeremy Harrison, Minister of Municipal Affairs:
- Under The Municipalities Act, Rural Municipalities (RM) assessors are required to assess an occupant of tax exempt land who holds a lease, licence or permit. This includes those who hold a grazing permit issued by the Ministry of Environment.
- The decision to tax such occupants is made by the RM council, not the province. An RM may cancel or prorate the taxes levied on a grazing permit holder, if it feels taxes based on the full year are not appropriate. RM councils may also choose to exempt grazing permit holders by bylaw.
- Outfitters are not taxed for the use of the land in the forest fringe area as they are not classified as occupants under the legislation. Outfitters use forest lands to hunt wildlife that is naturally occurring within the region but do not raise the wildlife themselves. Taxing outfitters for the land would be equivalent to requiring hunters to pay property tax for the land they hunt on.
- There are substantial differences between the sorts of use that grazing permits and outfitter licences enable. For example, grazing permit holders are authorized to construct fences, establish salt licks and construct cattle watering facilities. Outfitters are essentially authorized to enter the land, hunt for wildlife and leave. For this reason, the outfitter situation is not considered to satisfy the requirement of “occupying” the land for the purpose of assessment and taxation.