How is property assessed?
In Alberta, residential and most commercial property is assessed using the market value approach.
Market value is defined as the price a property might reasonably sell for after adequate time and exposure to an open market when sold by a willing seller to a willing buyer.
To calculate your assessment, assessors look at property characteristics such as the size, type and age of your property, as well as its location, style, condition, upgrades, and lot size. The selling prices of similar properties in the same neighbourhood or similar areas are also considered.
Your property’s market value is determined from a range of probably selling prices, not a specific selling price.
Why are property assessments prepared?
The assessment process establishes the value of a property in relation to similar properties. The purpose of property assessment is to distribute the property tax fairly among property owners in a municipality.
The assessment of a property does not in itself generate property taxes. Property taxes are generated when the tax rate, established by your municipality, is applied to the assessed value of your property. Council sets its tax rate based on the amount of revenue it needs for local programs and services.
Property tax dollars pay for municipal services such as: police and fire protection, roads, waste management, parks and recreation, and capital projects.
Your property tax bill also included a school tax, which is collected by the County and then submitted to the province. The province uses the school tax to help pay for primary and secondary education programs. Your property tax bill may also include local improvement taxes or other municipal taxes.
Note: You cannot file a complaint about the tax rate with an assessment review board, or appeal it to the Municipal Government Board. Neither type of board can change tax rates or the services that are provided by a municipality.
Once the assessment is complete, the assessed value is entered on the Assessment Roll which lists all of the property assessments of the County. Assessment notices are created from the information on the Assessment Roll and mailed to every property owner in the County. The Assessment Notice and Tax Notice may be combined on one notice.
How do I check my assessment?
First, contact the County Office. Ask to review your property record to make sure the description of your property is accurate.
This is an important step. The assessor can inspect your property and correct the assessment if necessary. If the assessor agrees the original notice is not accurate, a new notice can be issued.
Arrange a meeting with the assessor. Discuss any problems that might affect your property’s value (for example, a leaking roof, cracked foundation). Find out if these problems were taken into account when your assessment was prepared.
Compare your assessment with other assessments of similar properties in your neighbourhood. Talk with a professional appraiser, assessor, or realtor who can estimate your property’s value in the current market.
You can file a complaint with the Assessment Review Board (ARB) if you think your property assessment is not correct. Your complaint must be filed at the address shown on your Assessment Notice no later than the date shown on the Assessment Notice.
Council has established a $50.00 filing fee, you will have to pay it within the required time or the complaint will not be accepted.
How do I prepare for an ARB or MGB hearing?
Your goal is to show proof to the board that the assessment on your property is not a fair estimate of the price your property would sell for on the market, or a fair estimate when compared to properties of similar value.
Remember, market value is not defined as the exact selling price of a property, but the most reasonable selling price.
Similar properties rarely sell for the same price. However, the sale prices for similar properties will likely fall within the range of prices. The market value of your property is within that range.
The following information will help you present your case:
• Alberta Municipal Affairs; detailed guide – Preparing for
Your Assessment Complaint or Appeal Hearing
• Sales records from similar properties
• Appraisals or assessments of similar properties
• Repair estimate from a reputable contractor
You and the assessor are required to exchange information and evidence before the hearing. You may want to attend a hearing beforehand to see how the process works.
You may hire someone to represent you at the hearing (for example, a tax agent or a lawyer) or you may bring a friend or family member to assist you. Contact the County Office if you have questions about the board’s process and timelines.
What happens the day of the hearing?
When your hearing starts, you will be asked to present your case first. You may want to speak to the board, have witnesses speak, use letters and photographs, etc.
During the hearing, that assessor or the assessor’s lawyer may question you or your witnesses.
After you present your information, the assessor will defend the assessment.
You may ask questions about the information the assessor presents. The board members may ask questions at any time.
At the end of the hearing, you and the assessor will be asked to summarize your positions.
When will a decision be made regarding my case?
The board may announce its decision at the end of the hearing, or it may inform you of its decision at a later date. A written decision will also be mailed to you. If you want written reasons for the decision, request them before the hearing ends.
What if I am not happy with the ARB’s decision?
You can appeal to the Municipal Government Board (MGB). In Alberta, you have 30 days after the ARB’s written decision is sent to you inn which to file an appeal with the MGB.
Where can I find more information?
Contact the County Office at the address printed on your property Assessment Notice.
Contact the MGB for information on how to file an appeal with the board.
Telephone toll-free: 310-0000, then (780) 427-4864.
You may view and print Preparing for Your Assessment Complaint or Appeal Hearing from the Alberta Municipal Affairs, Assessment Services branch website at www.municipalaffairs.gov.ab.ca/as_gen_info.htm.
Alberta Municipal Affairs
Assessment Services Branch
15th Floor, Commerce Place
10155 – 102 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4L4
Telephone: toll-free 310-0000, then (780) 422-1377
Fax: (780) 422-3110
Also, visit their website at www.municipalaffairs.gov.ab.ca
You may view or purchase copies of the Municipal Government Act and Alberta regulations from the Queen’s Printer Bookstore.
Call the bookstore toll-free at 310-0000, then (780) 427-4952, or visit the website at: www.gp.gov.ab.ca/index.cfm.