Who is Getting a Carbon-Tax Rebate?

  • Jennifer Winter University of Calgary
  • Sarah Dobson University of Calgary


With its 2016 budget, the Government of Alberta laid out the basic details of the carbon tax rebate. The rebate is constructed to increase based on household size, and will decrease with income after a pre-set cutoff. The government has stated six in 10 households will be eligible for a full rebate, with an additional six per cent receiving a partial rebate. This paper examines the income distribution of Albertans, to determine how the rebate and income cutoffs affect different types of Alberta families. Using easily available data from Statistics Canada, we shed light on the question of who will receive a carbon-tax rebate. Based on 2013 data on median incomes, single-parent families, elderly families and single Albertans are all groups where a majority of households will receive rebates. In some cases, it appears well over 50 per cent of those groups will receive a full rebate. However, fewer than 50 per cent of Alberta families that are couples (with and without children) will receive a rebate. Still, even those that get a rebate will not necessarily exactly break even against the additional costs they incur from a carbon tax. Interestingly, the lowest-income households, which are most likely to qualify for a rebate, appear to be in a position where they will receive a larger refund than they will pay in carbon taxes. For households where incomes fall in the middle of the provincial distribution, the data suggest that the rebate will come close to compensating for additional costs of the carbon tax, although it may fall slightly short. The analysis presented below is a first pass at a very important question facing Albertans. When data from the 2016 census becomes available, we will be much better able to evaluate which Albertans will be eligible for the rebate. The census will enable a more precise evaluation of whether the rebate matches the government’s 66 per cent goal.