Market value assessment flawed – as is the law

Dear editor,

Dear editor,

Market value assessment is neither an art or a science, and in some cases it isn’t much more than a good guess due to built-in flaws.

BC Assessment Authority’s annual review of property market values is dependent on their ability to source accurate information. If BCAA have erred or overlooked something pertinent, the onus is on the property owner to provide documentation for their consideration.

This is because municipalities and regional districts are expected (but not required by the Local Government Act) to provide pertinent information. But they don’t.

The Local Government Act permits any property or residence with development potential to have charges applied to it based on a “latecomers agreement” when there is some change to the infrastructure of neighbouring or nearby land that is considered a potential benefit. These charges, which accumulate interest, must be paid by a purchaser of those properties before a development can happen. They are also considered by BCAA as valid considerations for decreasing assessed market value as they certainly have an impact on a sale price.

In our case, we were over-assessed by more than $80,000, which translates into overpaid property tax by over $700 per year. Municipalities are empowered by the provincial government to arbitrarily enact these charges for what used to be 10 years but is now up to 15. It only recommends but doesn’t require the information be reported to the property owner, but says nothing in respect to informing BCAA. The latecomer charge and the cumulative interest can languish in a municipal bureaucrat’s drawer, without recrimination, while the property owner overpays their property tax for years.

BCAA will not and cannot, by mandate, do anything to remedy past inaccuracies, but will only make corrections to affect assessed values going forward.

Even when provided with the documentation, if it is less than a 10-per-cent change, BCAA considers it a reasonable overstatement of market value.

So developable properties potentially are overpaying their property taxes while householders pay less of the revenue pool. This was happening to me for seven years and went undiscovered until selling my home.

Anyone with developable or subdividable land should contact their local authorities to confirm they too aren’t overpaying their property taxes due to latecomer charges, as the Local Government Act makes them the only one in the know.

This law is flawed and so is market value assessment.

Bill Bate,

Courtenay

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