Published On: Tuesday, 02 January 2018

Act Now to Correct Property Assessment Errors

Act Now to Correct Property Assessment Errors
Commercial properties may bear the brunt of increased assessments this year.

BC - It's that time of year when the annual property assessment notice envelope appears in the mail¬box or by e-mail, displaying 2018 property assessment values and classification.

This year’s notices are especially important and deserve close inspection given the record increases in property assessment values over the past year in most areas of British Columbia. It is from this estimation of commercial or industrial property assessment values that local governments and the Province will determine how much overall property tax will be paid this year.

The BC Assessment Authority is responsible for the annual valuation of over two million properties in B.C. but has less than 700 employees, so it remains the property owners’ responsibility to review and appeal annual property assessment notices.

What if a property owner doesn’t agree with either the assessment value or classification? Perhaps it’s too high, or in some cases, too low. Can anything be done about it?

Yes. But an appeal must be filed on or before January 31, 2018. There is no fee to file an appeal at this first level of review.

Tim Down, President of PacWest Commercial Real Estate Advisors, specializes in annual property assessment and tax appeal consulting throughout B.C. He notes “If an assessment is incorrect, the owner will be paying more property tax now and into the future, so they need to ensure that they have been assessed fairly and consistently.

“Property taxpayers have a right to either the lower of the actual market value, or the eq-uitable assessment value for their property,” Down adds. “It should be no higher than a similar, competing property in their taxing jurisdiction."

"For example, a commercial property in a downtown location should not be assessed at a higher rate than a similar neighboring property."

Down believes the significant property assessment value increases this year will result in even larger inequitable increases for many property taxpayers if not carefully reviewed and challenged.

Also, local governments are increasing property taxes to shore up funding for emerging social initiatives and strategies. These increases tend to place a higher burden of taxation on the non-residential taxpayer.

Classification will continue to be an issue for property taxpayers, with the BC Assessment Authority taking aggressive valuation and taxation policy positions in the application of higher tax classifications for mixed-use developments and agricultural lands.

BC Assessment Authority continues their trend to aggressively pursue assessment valuation policies and property tax classification initiatives through legal challenges that will have long lasting impacts on all non-residential taxpayers.

Down says it’s best for property owners to stay informed and remain vigilant these days. Especially since that property taxes - after mortgage and lease costs - are the largest annual operating expenses for property owners.

Once the appeal deadline has passed, property taxes cannot be appealed, and Down notes that property taxes go straight to the bottom line performance of all real estate assets.

For more details contact PacWest Commercial Real Estate Advisors.