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Why is my 2016 Home Assessment so high?

Blog by Diane Cardoso | January 5th, 2017

Each year, it is predictable that when the Tax Notices are mailed, my phones starts ringing.  Some common comments from clients about their BC Tax Assessments are:
  • ‘Why is my assessment so low?’
  • ‘Why is my assessment so high?’
  • ‘Will my annual taxes now change?’
  • ‘My list price is to low based on my assessment’ (odd we don’t hear the reverse of this one…..)
Remember that the Tax Notice is snap shot in time.  Layer on to this, the tax assessors typically do did not visit the individual properties, but rather applied a percentage increase based on their review of some sales from a very broad perspective. 
We know that historically, assessed values are either above or below market, as market values are in a constant state of change vs. the assessed value which is fixed for a year.
So now that we know that it is a snap shot in time – that the value might not be relevant to market values, why does the government come out with these assessments?  The answer is a simple one – TAXES!  Property taxes are one of the government revenue streams.  To ensure a fair distribution of taxes based on all property owners, the tax burden is shared based on values.  Much like maintenance fees based on unit entitlement.  You might hear the term ‘mill’ rate.
So if the tax assessment has gone up, will taxes go up?  While likely, it is not because the value went up but rather because the governments need for money, their budget went up and with it the need to collect more from you (if all other things were equal).  So if your assessment went up but nothing else in the equation changed, then your taxes would stay the same.  Of course things do change.  Cost of government tend to go up, the tax base in terms of number of residential properties tends to also go up to help with those added revenues. 
The real question is not did my assessment go up, but rather did it go up fairly relative to other homes in your neighbourhood.  The owner’s objective is typically to reduce their assessed value and the back of the BC Assessment Notice gives insight on that process.  However, it is sometimes not in your best interest to have your Assessment reduced in value for various reasons.  Any Homeowner may also avail themselves of a private, third party appraisal if you are not confident in the BC Governments Assessment of your home.

Don't hesitate to give me a call if you have any questions abour home's value or your BC Assessment Notice.