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Turner Drake & Partners Ltd.
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Canada

Tel.: (902) 429-1811
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Saint John, N.B.
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Tel.: (506) 634-1811

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Toronto, ON.
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# Thursday, March 3, 2016

It’s that time of year when many Canadians are suffering from dry mouth, a stiff back, and a feeling of bewilderment and disbelief – otherwise known as “tax pain.” Residents and property owners in New Brunswick will be the next set of Canadians to experience these symptoms as their annual property assessment notice and tax bill was sent on March 1st.

The fabled “tax pain” experienced by property owners is all too real, but following these tips will help ease the pain of determining whether or not your property taxes are too high.

What is my Assessment Notice/Tax Bill?

The tax bill is composed of two elements: an assessed value and a tax rate. Service New Brunswick (SNB) calculates the assessed value based on market value: an estimate of what the property would sell for on the open market. The second element, the tax rate, is a combination of rates set by the provincial government and your local municipality. By multiplying these two elements together, you will get your annual property tax bill.

If you believe your property is overvalued when you look at your assessment notice and tax bill (and you experience any of the symptoms listed above), you have until March 31st to “seek treatment” and appeal to hopefully reduce your taxes.

What am I appealing? Is my property overvalued?

In New Brunswick, the first level of appeal is known as a Request for Review (RFR). When you file an RFR, you are challenging the assessed value of your property.

Determining if you are over-assessed can be a little tricky. It requires access to data on your property and on comparable properties. I have conducted property tax appeals all across the country and each province has the resources and technology available to assist in the collection of property information, with some provinces being more advanced than others. For example, several provinces (i.e. Nova Scotia, Ontario, British Columbia) offer online services that enable property owners to access their specific assessment calculations by inputting the associated property account and pin numbers located on their assessment notice/tax bill. Along with the assessment calculations, these provinces offer additional information including assessment history, sale prices, and mapping imagery all within the convenience of one website.

Unfortunately, New Brunswick is not yet offering a “one-stop-shop” service similar to other provinces to obtain assessment calculations and other information. This makes it difficult for property owners to determine if they are over-assessed because they do not know how their specific property value is calculated. Property owners can request their assessment calculations from SNB; however, these can be difficult to obtain during the appeal period as assessors are dealing with a large volume of paper work and inquiries.

Fortunately, there is no cost to appeal. So if you believe you are over-assessed and have not been able to obtain your assessment calculations, file an appeal before the end of the appeal period by completing the bottom portion of your assessment/tax notice and submitting it to SNB.

What resources are available to help determine if my New Brunswick property is overvalued?

Below are a few websites that are useful for gathering property information in New Brunswick:

1. Propertize.ca - Arguably the best resource when determining whether or not you are assessed fairly in New Brunswick. This website has no affiliation to SNB and was created by a local resident of New Brunswick who grew frustrated as historical assessment data was not being made readily available to the public. The website enables the user to search their assessment history as well as the assessment history and sales prices of neighbouring and comparable properties.

2. GeoNB Map Viewer - Operated by SNB, this website works by inputting a Parcel Identifier (PID) into the website search application enabling the property owner access to Geographic information. This information can assist in determining parcel shape, building outline, lot size, and other value-added applications. It is possible to use GeoNB without searching by PID, but it can be difficult to navigate and find the appropriate parcel. As well, the aerial imagery in some areas of the province are out-of-date or not available, so be careful when searching for comparable properties as some buildings may no longer exist or may have been renovated. Overall, this is a helpful website in gathering information to determine if your property is overvalued as parcels throughout the province are identified.

3. Property Online - Operated by SNB, this website has three search features: by Property Account Number (PAN), by PID and by location. The free version of this website does not offer much else in terms of information like the other sites above. However, the subscription-based website provides many more features including mortgage information, deeds, and site plans.

How can I use this information to determine if I am over-assessed?

By combining the information obtained from these resources you can get a sense of where your property falls in relation to neighbouring and comparable properties based on such things as:
• Percentage increase of assessment
• Assessment per ft2 of building
• Assessment per ft2 of lot size

Keep in mind that arguing your property is unfairly assessed in relation to your neighbours is not a sure-fire bet for a reduction, as there is no statutory requirement for assessments in New Brunswick to be uniform. Determining that your property might be over-assessed is the first step, but the assessor typically requires a proper position using one of the three approaches to value (Income, Cost, and Direct Comparison). In order to achieve a reduction, the assessor requires a proper inspection of the property, market data, and a list of facts and issues about the property that were not previously accounted for.



Written by Chris Jobe, Manager of our Property Tax Division. If you have any questions about your property tax assessment, feel free to contact Chris at (506) 634-1811 or CJobe@turnerdrake.com.

Thursday, March 3, 2016 10:30:38 AM (Atlantic Standard Time, UTC-04:00)  #    -
New Brunswick | Property Tax