It’s tax time again and because the property prices have risen, our property taxes also rise. No doubt you have a few questions about your property taxes, so I will answer some of the main ones I get asked by clients.
1. How do municipalities set property taxes? Taxes are set by the municipality according to tax rates. These rates vary among property classifications – residential, business, farm, recreation, utility and managed forest land – and are typically calculated by dividing the annual budget needs of the municipality by the assessment base or the total value of properties in each municipality. The market value of each property is determined annually by BC Assessment, as of July l. The BC Government sets the school tax rates.
2. Why have my taxes increased when I haven’t improved my property? Property values have increased throughout the Greater Vancouver Area. Assessment notices sent to home owners in January reflect this increase. When properties sell for more than the assessed value, this can raise market value since assessors look at comparable sales when valuing a property. As well, another taxing authority such as the school district or transportation authority may have raised rates.
3. All the homes on my street are identical, shy are my taxes more than my neighbours? Ease assessment is unique to a specific property. Renovations such as remodeling basements or attics, adding a jacuzzi tub to the master bathroom or major landscaping project will increase the assessment.
4. Like many baby boomers, I own a second home, how are they assessed? A secondary residence is assessed the same way as a primary residence. The key difference is the Homeowner Grant is only available on your primary residence, not on a secondary residence.
5. If I buy a new home and there are taxes owing, who is responsible? You are!! You are liable for all outstanding taxes when you buy a property, unless otherwise written in the contract. If the previous owner paid the taxes or if you have claimed a Home Owner Grant on another property, you cannot claim the HO-Grant for the property in the year you buy it.
6. I didn’t receive my tax notice. What do I do? Immediately contact the tax office in your municipality. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your municipality has the correct mailing address. you are responsible to pay your taxes, whether or not you receive a tax notice.
7. I’m selling my home, should I claim the HO-Grant? If you haven’t sold your home and you live on the property, you may claim the grant. If you have already sold and new owners live on the property, then the new owners should claim the grant.
8. I want to appeal my taxes, what do I do? Property taxes cannot be appealed. Only property assessments, on which taxes are based, can be appealed. Therefore, it is important to review your assessment notice when you receive it from BC Assessment and report any concerns to them by January 31st.
9. I forgot to claim my Home Owner Grant in previous years and I paid the full amount of taxes. You can claim back your grant only for the prior year. Forms are available at City Hall. You will have to provide proof of residency.
Have a property tax question that’s not covered in my articles? Send it to me and I will try to answer it for you.
Have a property tax situation that you’d like to share with us?