Property taxes misunderstood

Property taxes, like most taxes, are not well understood by many.

Property taxes, like most taxes, are not well understood by many. I believe this is the case when Evan Begbie suggested that the current property tax scheme be overhauled to what amounts to a parcel tax, where the costs of services are divided evenly.

The current system of taxation based upon the assessed value is actually the fairest system. Here is why. There are many types of property with residential being just one type. A simple parcel tax doesn’t account for these different types of property and as a result a parcel tax would result in a significant increase in the taxes charged to each homeowner.

In my book How to Successfully Appeal Your BC Property Assessment ( or I outline the assessment process and how your property taxes are determined. There are three parts to the process: the municipal budget, the assessment of property in the taxation area and the determination of the mill rates by property type. The mill rate is then multiplied by an individual’s property assessment.

A homeowner can end up paying more than their fair share of the tax burden if the assessed value on their property is incorrect. Fortunately, there is a process to appeal the assessment but there is a time limit on providing what is called a Notice of Complaint. It must be submitted by Feb. 1, 2016.

Most people don’t realize that the onus is on the property owner to verify that their assessment is correct. I show you how to complete this step by step; but a quick first step is to compare the increase in your property assessment to the overall change for residences in your area. For example, the overall increase in residential assessment for the city of Duncan is 3.7 per cent, North Cowichan is 2.6 per cent, Lake Cowichan is 1.1 per cent, rural areas of Lake Cowichan increased five per cent and rural Cowichan increased six per cent. If your assessed value increased more than the average you may have an increased tax burden.


Peter D. Morris

Mill Bay