What to do When Your Property Tax Assessment Seems Too High
In early January each year, every home in British Columbia receives its property tax assessment notice through the mail from BC Assessment. Some property owners may be surprised and possibly even concerned with their home property assessment amount.
Between 2021 and 2022, house prices in BC rose by an average of 23.3% with the increase even steeper in Victoria. With BC Assessments predicting that property assessments will rise between 5% and 15% for 2023, it’s no wonder homeowners are concerned about how these cumulative increases will affect their BC tax assessment.
The good news is, if you think your BC Property Tax assessment is too high, there is an appeals process that you can follow.
Read on for more about how your property tax assessment is calculated, what to do if you think your assessment is too high and how a professional appraisal company can help you with your appeal.
How Do BC Property Tax Assessments Work?
Every year, BC Assessment creates property tax assessments for over 2 million homes in BC. These assessments provide a valuation of each property as of July 1st in the previous year (So 2023 tax assessments are based on the value of homes on July 1st, 2022).
These assessments are used by local municipalities to calculate your annual property taxes. While the actual dollar valuation of the property is not the basis for your tax bill (i.e. an increase in property value doesn’t always mean an increase in taxes), if you’ve seen a larger-than-average increase (based on the average change in home values within your community), your bill could be affected.
BC property tax assessments are calculated using a variety of information sources, including:
- Land title
- Real estate transactions
- Aerial and street view imagery
- Building permits
- Property visits
BC Assessment’s team of appraisers take this information and look at it alongside property market data from July 1st. Sales of comparable homes in the local area are analyzed along with specific features of each home to establish market value.
Things that may affect your BC Assessment valuation include:
- Type of property
- Size of home in square feet
- Number of rooms
- Any recent additions / improvements
- Age of home
- Garages / carports / decks
- Comparable sales prices
Did You Know? Changes to land zoning could impact your assessment. However, if you have owned and occupied your residential property for over 10 years, the valuation must remain based on current use, not potential use of the land. Therefore, any potential development due to zoning changes would not be valued.
How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment
In their 2021 Annual Report, BC Assessment notes it received 4,427 appeals that year, 10% of which were from Vancouver Island. According to the Times Colonist, this number is well below the approximately 20% of homeowners who should be appealing their property assessments each year.
If you think your property tax assessment is too high, there are some steps you should take to decide whether you should appeal.
- First, use the online assessment search tool to see what other homes in your area, and homes comparable to yours, have been assessed at. The important thing to look at is the % increase. You may find that although your value has increased a lot, it is in line with the average for your area and so there is no case for appeal.
- However, if you feel your home has increased significantly compared to your neighbours and other comparable homes, then you may have a case for appeal.
- BC Assessment suggests anyone with concerns should contact them to have an informal discussion with an appraiser. If both sides agree a change is needed it can be done without having to go through a formal appeal process. 96% of cases were solved this way in 2021.
- If following this initial discussion, you are still not satisfied with the assessment, you can lodge a formal appeal and request an independent review by the Property Assessment Review Panel (PARP). The PARP has the authority to investigate and adjudicate assessments and can make rulings to amend the issued assessment.
Remember: You must submit your appeal by January 31 – late appeal submissions will not be considered.
Once you have submitted your appeal:
- Appeal hearings take place between February 1st and March 15th. You will receive a notice of hearing time and date. It is important you start to gather support information as soon as you submit your appeal. (See below).
- PARP may issue a decision at the hearing or by April 7 at the latest.
- If you remain unhappy with the decision of the PARP you may refer your appeal to the Property Assessment Appeal Board. The deadline for appeals to PAAB is April 30.
How to Prepare Your Supporting Evidence Package
One of the most important things to do after submitting an appeal is to prepare your supporting evidence package. At the PARP panel hearing, you will be given 6 to 10 minutes to present evidence to support your claim that the tax assessment is incorrect.
This evidence package should include:
- Comparative properties
- Evidence of real home sales in your neighbourhood
- Photographs of your home and comparable properties
- Evidence of views, condition of the home and any damage requiring repair
For more information on the appeals process and what to include in your appeal evidence see this useful guide.
How an Independent Appraiser Can Help Your Appeal
The key to a good property tax appeal package is to be concise and include relevant and clear information.
Not everyone has the time or ability to do this, but did you know you can get assistance from an independent qualified appraisal company to create your BC Assessment appeal package? Appraisers are experts in the local market and can pull together comparison information and an accurate valuation to support your appeal.
While an appraisal for the purpose of a property tax dispute is somewhat different to a regular appraisal, because it has to reflect the market as of the previous July, a good appraisal company will be able to help.
Get Support in Your Property Tax Dispute From D.Fritz Appraisals Inc
At D Fritz Appraisals Inc, we have over 24 years of experience appraising homes in the Victoria, BC, region and consider ourselves to be experts on Vancouver Island housing market conditions.
Not sure whether you have a good case to appeal property tax assessment? For a nominal fee, D.Fritz offers a telephone or online consultation to offer direction on whether you should proceed with your appeal or not.
If you decide to go ahead with an appeal, contact us at D. Fritz as soon as possible to book a time to carry out your appraisal.