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Appealing your property tax assessment - it just might work!

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You likely received your property assessment in January. If not, it’s probably in the mail and you can look it up here. But have you asked yourself: is my assessment fair?

Property taxes can be a significant cost to your business. To ensure your taxes are fair, take time to carefully review the property assessment when it arrives. If you feel the government has not set a reasonable value on your property, you must act fast to appeal before the deadline. Our members have found it’s worth the time and effort! 

Note these timelines:

  • Property Assessment Notices are mailed to B.C. businesses in the first week of January.
  • The deadline to file an appeal with Assessment Appeal Board will be January 31, 2018 – so hurry up!
  • Property taxes are due February 2018.

Many factors are considered when establishing your property’s value. Here are a few things to consider when reviewing your assessment:

  • Location, size, age, quality and condition: Is the physical description of the property correct? Are they using the right square footage? Is there a difference in gross area, leasable/rentable area and usable area?
  • Property class: Has the right class been assigned (institutional, other, etc.)?
  • Local real estate market conditions in the reference year: What data was used to compare to your property?
  • Comparison to similar properties: Was your property compared to others? Which ones?
  • Tax exemptions may apply: Should the property be exempt from municipal or school taxes, or both?

How do I appeal?

  1. If you feel that the assessment does not reflect market value as of July 1, 2017, or you see incorrect information on your notice, you should contact B.C. Assessment as indicated on their notice as soon as possible. Talk with your local B.C. Assessment Office.
  2. If unsatisfied, submit a Notice of Complaint (Appeal) by January 31, for an independent review by a Property Assessment Review Panel.
  3. Prepare to attend a hearing to explain your reasons, including evidence and/or witnesses.

Appeals can be based on:

  • The amount of the assessed value;
  • Whether the property is in the correct property class; and
  • Whether the property should be exempt from municipal and/or school taxes.

There are other levels of appeal, if needed.

Even if you don’t receive a property assessment notice, you have the annual right of appeal. Should you miss the deadline this year, you will have an opportunity to appeal next year.

Is it worth it?

While you will need to request a review by January 31 and attend a scheduled hearing, many business owners have proven it to be worthwhile. (Don’t worry if appealing sounds complicated – we are here to help!) Plus, there’s no fee to appeal.

In our recent Municipal Issues Survey, nearly half (45%) of our members indicated that they did not appeal their business’ property tax assessment because they did not think it would make a difference

In reality, nearly half (46%) of those who did choose to appeal their assessment saw their property’s assessed value decrease. In other words, those businesses were able to pay a lower property tax because their appeal resulted in a lower property assessment value.

Source: CFIB BC Municipal Issues Survey, November 2017. Question 9 n= 74, Total survey n= 789.

Source: CFIB BC Municipal Issues Survey, November 2017. Question 9 n= 74, Total survey n= 789

Judging from other member’s success, it may be worthwhile appealing your property assessment. If you have questions about your property’s assessment, or need assistance appealing, you contact us to further discuss!

Does this apply if you lease your property?

Many commercial leases now contain “pass through” clauses, wherein the tenant is responsible for property taxes. It will be wise to review your current agreement for this clause as soon as possible, as only the property owner can file the appeal; you may want to ask your landlord to file the appeal on your behalf.