With so many variations in property tax assessment cycles and appeal procedures across Canada, it can be easy for taxpayers to be caught off-guard and miss an appeal deadline. The rules can even vary among municipalities in the same province. And while the appeal systems in certain jurisdictions are more forgiving than in others, in many cases, once a deadline has passed, little can be done to challenge a property tax assessment value that could be in place for multiple years. For this reason, Ryan’s Canadian Property Tax Team advocates a proactive approach to disputing property tax valuations, which includes meeting with assessors to discuss potential assessment value reductions in advance of formal appeal deadlines.
In many Canadian provinces, the deadline for appealing a property tax assessment occurs near the beginning of the calendar year, but the rules vary significantly by jurisdiction. Consider the following examples:
- In British Columbia, market values determined using a July 1, 2018 base date will be mailed out during the first week of January in 2019, with appeals to the Property Assessment Appeal Board due no later than April 30.
- In parts of Alberta (i.e., Calgary and Edmonton), preliminary assessments were to be issued up until December 1, 2018, with 2019 assessments to be sent out this January and any appeals required to be filed by early March.
- Manitoba is currently processing reassessments for 2020 and 2021. In Winnipeg, preliminary assessments should be available in mid-May, with official notices to be mailed out during the first week of June, followed by a 21-day appeal deadline. For the rest of the province, notices will be sent out between mid-May and the end of June, with appeal deadlines falling between late August and early November, depending on the municipality.
- Ontario operates on a 4-year assessment cycle (currently from 2017 to 2020), with the complexity of the review process having become onerous in recent years.
- Quebec uses a 3-year cycle, but all municipalities do not follow the same timing and there is no annual right to appeal, making it critical to ensure that a valuation check is not overlooked at the beginning of a cycle.
Regardless of the timing for a potential appeal, Ryan recommends the following best practices to address any disagreements over the assessed value of a property:
- Throughout the assessment process, try to establish a business-like relationship with the assessor(s);
- Any concerns should be discussed with the assessor(s) first, before taking any other action (note that the processes to be followed for formal and informal dialogue may vary by jurisdiction);
- Be cognizant of the fact that each party might have different information about key valuation parameters (i.e., rent and vacancy rates, market conditions, etc.) and/or differing views on the nature of the property;
- When raising concerns, try to initiate an open, transparent dialogue based on facts and reliable information sources; and
- Avoid unnecessary roadblocks by narrowing the issues, whenever possible.
Ultimately, it may be necessary to “agree to disagree” on certain aspects of a property tax assessment before filing an appeal. However, despite the more formal process, establishing an open dialogue remains vital to attaining a successful outcome.
Need more information? Call the Ryan TaxDirectTM line at 1.800.667.1600 or visit our website at: ryan.com/canada/practice-areas/property-tax-canada/.