How it's done
Business climate is the general economic environment that local businesses operate in. Reviewing and understanding local business climate provides valuable insights about the economy, costs, risks, and incentives that may impact the success of your business. This activity will guide you to better understand the business climate in Calgary and help you answer the following fundamental questions.
- WHAT is the business climate in Calgary?
- WHAT costs and assistance should I know about?
- HOW do I use this information?
What is the business climate in Calgary?
We have compiled the most important aspects of Calgary’s business climate as an interactive dashboard below. This dashboard provides valuable economic, resident, household, dwelling and development indicators that may influence the success of your business.
Average Household Size
Household Size Distribution
Dwelling Construction Period
What costs and assistance should I know about?
Whether you have a new or existing businesses it is critical to be aware of costs, incentives and grants that impact your business. This dashboard provides you with a snapshot of the major costs of conducting a business in Calgary and assistance available to Calgary businesses.
Businesses in Calgary continue to enjoy the Alberta advantage when it comes to corporate income taxes in comparison to other provinces. With no provincial sales tax, no payroll tax, no health care premiums, lower personal income tax rates and the lowest fuel tax among provinces. Alberta continues to be a great place to do business thanks to its infrastructure, cities, diverse industries, growing population and investment opportunities.
Effective July 1, 2015 the general Alberta corporate income tax rate is 12 per cent. The Alberta small business income tax rate is 2 per cent for eligible small businesses with income up to $500,000.
The combined federal/provincial corporate income tax rate in Calgary is 27 per cent for general businesses and 14 per cent for small businesses and a competitive corporate income tax rate is in place for manufacturers. Calgary businesses also benefit from the fact that Alberta has no inventory tax, no machinery and equipment tax and no payroll tax, which are common in many other provinces and U.S. states. Learn more
Calgary business taxes
Business tax is currently levied on any business that occupies space within the city of Calgary during the calendar year. The current business tac rate is 0.0427 (2016). The business tax levy is calculated my multiplying the assessed value of the business space by the tax rate, which is set annually. However, this tax is in the process of being merged with the non-residential property tax rate. Learn more
Calgary property taxes
Calgary non-residential property taxes (also known as Calgary commercial property taxes, Calgary industrial property taxes, or Calgary office property taxes) are calculated and billed annually using the property’s assessed value, as found on your property assessment notice, and the City Council-approved property tax rate. The current property tax rates are provided in the following table. Learn more
|Assessment class||Municipal tax rate||Provincial tax rate||Total tax rate|
Additional costs of doing business
Calgary Economic Development's Business Development Managers are equipped to assist you in starting a business in Calgary, providing information on office space costs, leasing and wages. For more information please contact Calgary Economic Development. Find additional resources
About off-site levies
Off-site levies are charges that developers pay to The City of Calgary to help with the cost of off-site infrastructure. Off-site infrastructure includes water and wastewater treatment facilities, recreation centres, roads, libraries, fire halls, police stations and more. Off-site levies help us build great communities and create a long term sustainable strategy for funding the cost of growth.
Calgary has continued to experience rapid growth and is forecasted to grow by 1.3 million people in the next 60 years. Growth provides numerous benefits to Calgarians, including support for local businesses, arts and culture and community vibrancy. At the same time, growth creates a need for investment in infrastructure.
Off-site levy amount
The following link outlines the levies for both the developed areas of the city as well as the newer areas on the outskirts. Information about at what point in the process payment is required is also described. Learn more
How do I calculate my levy?
If you'd like to get an idea of the new levy you may be charged on your development, download and print our form. Please note, the purpose of the form is to help calculate estimates only. All fees will be calculated and finalized by The City. See 2016 Off-site Levy Calculation
For more information, please contact our Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calgary’s wage and salary rates are competitive with the rest of Canada and with the United States. When total compensation rates are compared, Calgary and Alberta provides even more of a cost advantage compared to the U.S., largely because of publicly funded health care. A summary of the average hourly earnings for the Calgary CMA is shown in the table below.
|Industry||Average hourly wage
rate in 2015
|Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction||$44.80|
|Transportation and Warehousing||$30.97|
|Information and Cultural Industries||$28.47|
|Finance and Insurance||$32.69|
|Real Estate Rental and Leasing||$27.27|
|Professional Scientific and Technical Services||$40.66|
|Administrative and Support||$21.97|
|Health Care and Social Assistance||$30.24|
|Arts Entertainment and Recreation||$22.68|
|Other Services(except Public Admin)||$24.25|
The following link provides more information on Calgary’s salaries and minimum wages. Learn more
The reasonable cost of living in Calgary comes as a pleasant surprise to some people. It’s more affordable to live in Calgary than in many large North American cities. Provincial tax, personal income taxes and inheritance taxes in Alberta are among the lowest in the country, and Albertans’ provincial health care insurance is free. Another bonus – Alberta is the only province in Canada without a sales tax.
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Statistics Canada's Consumer Price Index (CPI) – commonly referred to as the inflation rate - provides a broad measure of the cost of living in Canada. While there are other ways to measure price changes, the CPI is the most important indicator because of its widespread use, for example, to calculate changes in government payments such as the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security.
Through the monthly and annual CPI, Statistics Canada tracks the retail price of a representative shopping basket of about 600 goods and services from an average household's expenditure: food, housing, transportation, furniture, clothing and recreation. Learn more
Businesses in Calgary benefit from:
No provincial sales tax
No payroll tax
No inventory tax
No machinery and equipment tax
No health care premiums
Free provincial health care insurance
Lower personal income tax rates
The lowest fuel tax among provinces
Small business income tax rate of just 2%
Corporate income tax rate of 12%
How do I use this information?
It is one thing to have data about the business climate, but quite another to have thought it through and know what it means, and what action you will take using it. Don’t worry, this section will help you use this information to make better business decisions.
Monitor the local business climate
On-going assessment of the business climate is an essential part of operating a competitive business. In any business climate, there are numerous factors outside your control that will impact your business, both positively and negatively. The health of the economy impacts all businesses, but small businesses usually feel the effect of economic changes faster than big businesses. Improvements in the economy typically provide a rapid increase in new opportunities for small businesses, while an economic downturn can have a significant and prolonged negative impact.
Unfortunately, you can’t influence the economy, but you can monitor the business climate indicators provided above and then take the necessary actions to minimise risks to your business. Staying up to date with the business climate can also help you identify new opportunities that your business can take advantage of.
Know your costs
All industries are unique and incur different types of costs when starting or operating (Know your industry). Understanding these costs is essential when it comes to setting prices, budgeting and planning for growth or downturns. We’ve provided some of the local costs associated with taxes, development and labour that often get overlooked by businesses. There may be other municipal and provincial costs that apply to your business so we encourage you to contact us to find out more.
Make the most of assistance
Getting good advice and adequate financing are two of the most challenging aspects of starting and operating a business. Here’s the good news – the find additional resources activity lists a large number of programs and organizations that can provide the help you need to start, grow and fund your business.
Where can I learn more about the business climate?
While we are providing you with a range of valuable information about the business climate, the fact is that there's much more available. In this section we provide you with links to other websites that will supplement our information and help to keep your finger on the pulse.
There may also be other municipal and provincial costs that apply to your business so we encourage you to contact us to find out more.
Alberta Economic Dashboard
Alberta's Treasury Board and Finance