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2016 Property Taxes, City of St. John’s

The City of St. John’s Assessment Division recently mailed out its Year 2016 Assessment Notices dated 1st December 2015.  You have until 31st December 2015 to file your appeal.  This is the first year of the tri-annual assessment cycle, so a successful appeal now will continue to provide you with tax savings for a full three years.  (If your property is enrolled in our PAMS® Property Tax Manager program, you can relax:  our Newfoundland tax team is already reviewing your assessment and will file an appeal if the opportunity exists to reduce your tax load).

The legislated basis for your Year 2016 Assessment is your property’s market value on 1st January 2014 (the “Base Date”) having regard to its current physical condition.  This then is the first test you should apply.  If your property’s market value is less than its assessed value, it is over assessed and you should file an appeal on or before 31st December 2015.  Market value is the price the property would command if it were sold to an “arm’s length” purchaser (i.e. to a non-related buyer) for cash or subject to conventional financing.  It is not necessarily the price that would persuade you to part with the property but rather the price you could expect if you decided voluntarily to dispose of the real estate.  The best evidence of market value is the sale prices of similar properties that were sold within six months of 1st January 2014.  If your property is assessed at less than its 1st January 2014 market value, you may still be over-assessed because the Assessment Act mandates that your property has to be assessed in a uniform manner.  This provision attempts to ensure that the tax load is spread across the municipality’s property inventory in an equitable manner.  It also discourages the City of St. John’s Assessment Division from deliberately under-assessing property to thwart appeals.  So, if for example, commercial properties are assessed on average throughout the municipality at 70% of their market value, you will have grounds for appeal if your property’s assessment exceeds this percentage.

The Bottom Line:  You should appeal if your property is assessed at more than, (1) its market value on 1st January 2014, or (2) the assessment of other, comparable properties … or if you harbour any doubt that your property is over-assessed.

Action Required:  None if your property is enrolled in our PAMS® Property Tax Manager program.  If it is not and you file an appeal, be careful not to restrict your grounds of appeal.  We recommend that you use the following wording: “The assessment is excessive, unfair, not uniform with other assessments, and any other grounds that may appear.”  If you prefer we will file the appeal for you.  If you would like advice on whether to appeal, call our Newfoundland Tax Team, André Pouliot or Mark Turner at (709) 722-1811 (St. John’s) or 1-800-567-3033 (toll free).  If you prefer you can email them at  or .

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