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Is your municipal tax bill too high? You have until April 30 to dispute your property assessment!

Whether you are the owner or tenant of the building in which your business is located, you pay property taxes–directly or indirectly. If you feel the amount is too high, you can dispute your property assessment, but you only have until April 30 to do so!

How are taxes calculated?

The annual municipal tax bill is calculated by multiplying your municipality’s current tax rate by the assessed value of the building in which your business is located.

  • What’s the bad news? You cannot dispute your municipality’s current tax rate (but CFIB is already actively advocating on your behalf to have cities keep this rate low for SMEs!)
  • What’s the good news? You might succeed in getting a lower property assessment for the building in which your business is located; this would lead to a reduction in your municipal and school tax bill.

A two-edged sword!                                                                                        

Before requesting a review, you need to make sure that such a review will be to your advantage, i.e., that the reassessed value of the building will actually be lower!

To achieve this, you must put together a solid case setting out a number of arguments in your favour. With the help of an accredited appraiser or a CFIB Counsellor to support you in the process, you can:

  • challenge the accuracy of the assessment
  • highlight the presence/absence of any piece of information on the assessment
  • submit information which the appraiser did not take into account but which might help in getting a lower assessment for your building, e.g., significant work required, an extended vacancy, defects in the building, dilapidated state of the building, etc.)

Once you have your arguments ready, the dispute process involves two main steps, as follows:

  • Requesting a review by the municipal appraiser, using the relevant form and submitting the appropriate fee before April 30. The appraiser then reviews your request and advises you of the municipality’s decision by September 1. This date can be extended until November 1 or even, with the approval of the municipality, the following April 1. If the appraiser grants a review, you then have a 30-day period in which to reach an agreement.
  • If your request for a review is denied or you have decided to decline a review agreement, you may then lodge an appeal with the Tribunal administratif du Québec.

Property assessments: what you need to know

  • You can dispute the assessment whether or not you are the owner of the building in which your business is located. (If you are a tenant, the tax amount may be included in your rent, and your lease may even provide for an adjustment if the tax bill for the building goes up.)
  • By law, the assessed value of your building used by the municipality must be available to you at all times in the Town/City Clerk’s Office. N.B.: some municipalities also allow you to view your assessment online.
  • The value of your building is reassessed every three years, along with all the other buildings in your municipality.
  • Renovations and the addition of certain systems may result in a higher assessed value for your building, and consequently, in a higher tax bill.
  • This assessment always comes into effect on January 1 and is based on the market conditions prevailing 18 months before.
  • By March 1, your municipality sends you a notice of assessment stating the basic information related to the reassessed valued of your building and your available options for disputing it.

Given the complexity of the municipal assessment and the request for review, you may need to consult an expert to help you make sense of everything that is involved. Why not start with a phone call to your CFIB Counsellor? He or she will be pleased to clarify the process!

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Topics in this Article: Taxes

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