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Property Tax

Self-help Topics (British Columbia)

Self-help Topics (Alberta) -Alberta has not created the smokescreen of a municipally owned "assessment corporation". Assessments are performed directly by the municipality. Appeals are directed to the Province and Court of Queen's Bench.

Self-help Topics (Ontario): (available to members and associate members)

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3-step process summary and overview

1- Avoiding the pitfalls: How to manage and conduct a successful appeal of your property tax assessment without the expense of a lawyer or consultant. "MUNICIPAL PROPERTY ASSESSMENT CORPORATION - A WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING" by lawyer Bruce Haines (Queen's Counsel)

2- Understanding the adversarial nature of disputes between you [the taxpayer] and the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)- a private agency employed solely by your local municipality. by Bruce Haines Q.C.

3-The judicial functions of the Assessment Review Board, its process, and the "streams" available to you for resolving disputes with MPAC. "The minimum information required for a fair hearing- to be provided as part of the pre-hearing stream"

4-About the Process: How to write an effective 'Statement of Issues' [including form, content and sample appeal strategies].

5- What to expect from MPAC.

6-How to make the Rules and Procedures of the Assessment Review Board work in your favour. Summary of the Rules of Procedure prepared by Bruce Haines Q.C.

Tips to insure a fair hearing and successful outcome.

Index to useful precedents.

2008 update on MPAC and ARB appeal procedures, by Bruce Haines Q.C.

2012-2013 update-pdf file-13pg

Finding, forming or joining neighborhood networks where like-minded property owners can compare notes, share information and exchange informed advice

 

This archive contains some useful information on how to appeal your property assessment, prepared by prominent Toronto lawyer and Queen's Counsel Bruce Haines. The file includes documents, forms, and general background that will assist property owners in understanding the process.

Among other things, the self-help topics provide examples of how to write a 'request for reconsideration', and a 'statement of issues', as well as the procedure needed to level the playing field, and take advantage of the 'prehearing stream'. Online question-and-answer feedback and editorial comment is available for those needing help.

The following remarks from Mr. Haines Q.C. are dated January 1, 2004 but remain relevant to 2012 as well (see updates in italics). Mr. Haines is a past-chairman (2007-08) of the Canadian Justice Review Board.

Hi Neighbour,

In November you received our first email entitled "Municipal Property Assessment Corporation - A wolf in Sheep's Clothing." The purpose of that email was to try to give you some understanding about challenging MPAC's valuation of your property for the 2004 municipal taxation year.

Recently, MPAC has started to send out form letters to all property owners who sent MPAC a "Request for Reconsideration." The letter advises that MPAC will try to make a review before March 31st which is your deadline for filing an appeal with the Assessment Review Board. Some property owners are under the impression that unless they send MPAC a "Request for Reconsideration" they will not be entitled to bring a formal complaint or an appeal before the Assessment Review Board (ARB).

Included as an attachment with this email is a Summary of the new Rules of the Assessment Review Board which should help you in initiating appeal proceedings with the Board. Unless you take this step before March 31st, MPAC will not likely give your review request much consideration. Why not? Because, MPAC knows that without an appeal you have no remedy to challenge them. (In 2008 the procedure for filing a complaint was modified to separate residential, farm, managed forest or conservation land, from other types of land. The process for the latter remains the same but the process for the former is new and requires that a "Request for Reconsideration" must now be filed first with MPAC before an appeal can be filed with the ARB. Mr. Haines has prepared a 2008 update paper explaining what to do)

You don't need to hire a lawyer to attend with you before the Assessment Review Board. The attached summary should help demystify the appeal process. It will also help you in your dealings with MPAC during the "Request for Reconsideration." They should be prepared to provide you with the same information that they will have to provide should you not settle with them and proceed with the appeal.

So, what you want to do is ask MPAC for their data base on all actual sales in your neighborhood for that period. You can bet your bottom dollar that MPAC is accessing that data base. In fact MPAC probably has access to other data bases which have been paid for by public money and should therefore be freely available to you. (among other things, the "Self-help" topics listed on the left hand sidebar show how to force MPAC to disclose the information you need)

Make sure that you keep records of everything you do, and make notes of all conversations with MPAC's people, and with the people at the Assessment Review Board. Don't trust to your memory because information which you obtain today if not recorded will surely flow like water through a seive and be lost down the drain. Why not start by opening a file and placing this email in it?

Feel free to send this email to like minded property owners who are fed up with being hosed by MPAC. You might consider complaining to your local Councillor and your MPP!

note: MPAC is a corporation operated by 444 municipalities. It is not a provincial crown corporation.

note: As a result of public complaint, in 2006 the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario issued a Report critical of MPAC's policies and procedures and property assessments were frozen until January 2008. Key recommendations from the Ontario Ombudsman have not, as yet, been implemented.