A deeper look into property taxes

Diving into property taxes with Pam Pikkert

This week our municipality sent out the 2018 Property Tax Assessment Notice which makes it the perfect time for a deeper dive into property taxes.

The timelines may be slightly different depending on your municipality but the balance of the information will apply no matter where you live.

Property Tax Timeline

You will receive your notice in January. They are mailed out Jan. 12th.

Make sure you actually open this and take a look. It is your responsibility to ensure they have the correct mailing address for the assessments of any properties you own.

March 20th is the deadline to appeal the value they have given.

May – property tax bills are mailed out.

June 30th – property taxes are now due.

Appealing your Assessed Value – if once you have reviewed your statement you have grave concerns over the value your home has been assigned, you can decide to appeal.

1. Speak with an assessment staff. You are best to set an appointment ASAP as the March 20th timeline will be here very quickly. As a taxpayer you are entitled to receive sufficient information about your property by law. If once you have spoken to an assessor, you still disagree, you can file a formal appeal.

2. The appeal must include a copy of the completed ‘Provincial Complaint Form’ which can be found on the City’s web site or from a clerk of the Assessment Review Board.

You must file by March 20th and there is a fee of $50 for a single family residential property one to two units or vacant land or $650 for a non-residential or multi-family unit. You may do so via mail or in person.

Your municipality’s web site will have more information on this.

How property taxes are calculated – each year the city/town council will meet and set the budget.

From here they calculate the tax rate necessary to continue to provide all the services they provide for us as a whole. Your property taxes are set by multiplying your individual property assessment value by the estimated annual tax rate for the current year.

Assessed value vs. market value – the assessed value of your home should not be confused with the market value of your home.

The assessed value is based on the market value of your property as of July 1st of the previous year and its physical condition as of Dec. 31st of the previous year.

Changes which happen after that will be reflected the following year. The market value will fluctuate more quickly depending on what is happening in the world of real estate.

Options for paying the property taxes. There are a number of ways you can pay your property taxes.

1. Include them with the mortgage payment and have the lender collect them and submit on your behalf. Your tax bill should reflect this but a little follow-up never hurts.

You can phone your mortgage lender or the City to confirm.

2. Sign up for the tax instalment plan. The last business day of each month, the City will take 1/12 of the taxes owing and apply it to your account.

When you get your tax bill in June you may see that there is an outstanding balance but you will also see that you do not have to pay as you are signed up on this plan.

3. Pay the entire amount annually.

Your mortgage company is likely to have rules of their own when it comes to the payment of property taxes. The reason being that taxes always trump the mortgage and if you get too far behind on your property taxes, the City can take legal action against the property and the mortgage lender could face significant financial loss.

I ALWAYS recommend that people make sure the property taxes are set up the way they have chosen once the mortgage funds. There are many steps in the mortgage process and things can get missed.

The last thing you need is to find out that the lender was never collecting the taxes like you thought and now you have to double up those tax payments until you are caught up.

If you have any questions or need any further information you can contact your municipality or visit their web site. Have a great week.

Pam Pikkert is a mortgage broker with Mortgage Alliance – Regional Mortgage Group in Red Deer.

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