Whether you are maintaining your primary residence or running a rental property, property taxes form a major chunk of the costs. These are set by an official body which assesses the value of your home – however, there is no reason to blindly assume that your property has been assessed fairly. In fact, given the hit the real estate market has taken in recent times, many have come to question why property taxes did not fall along with the price and values of properties. If you do not agree with the assessment and feel it is too high, you can always file an appeal against the property tax assessment of your home.
The procedure for lodging an appeal in order to dispute your home’s property tax assessment varies for every Canadian province. For example, in Ontario, you need to begin by understanding the Ontario Assessment Act. This states that all the properties in Ontario need to be assessed “based on the current value” – technically, this means what they would sell for in the present market – and in comparison to “similar properties in the vicinity”. Based on all this, the value of the home is assessed by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), after which the city chalks out the amount of taxes payable by making use of a multiplier of that valuation.
If you do not agree with the MPAC’s valuation of your home, you need to begin by filing a “Request for Reconsideration”. In this, lay out all the reasons why you do not agree with the valuation. In order to make this convincing, you need to provide concrete proof as to why the valuation is too high. There are two main ways to do this: firstly, hire a professional to conduct an appraisal of your home (this will determine the current market value of the property) and include the findings in your letter, and secondly, reference the recent sales of comparable homes in your area (e.g. if your home is valued at $200,000, but houses that are similar in size recently sold for around $160,000, you have a strong point).
If you remain unsatisfied with the results obtained after the “Request for Reconsideration”, you may proceed to file a direct appeal with the “Assessment Review Board”. Your appeal will be reviewed, and if, by the end of it, you are still convinced that the property tax assessment on your home is unfair and unjustly high, you can consider appealing to a court – however, reserve the court as a last option. You should also keep in mind that the MPAC will probably provide you a chance to negotiate before you appeal to the Assessment Review Board – hear them out, but if you are sure the assessment of your property is incorrect, remain firm and maintain your stance.