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Turner Drake & Partners Ltd.
6182 North Street
Halifax, N.S.
B3K 1P5
Canada

Tel.: (902) 429-1811
Toll Free: (800) 567-3033
Fax.: (902) 429-1891

Suite 221
12 Smythe Street
Saint John, N.B.
E2L 5G5
Canada
Tel.: (506) 634-1811

Suite 11
109 Richmond Street
Charlottetown, P.E.
C1A 1H7
Canada
Tel.: (902) 368-1811

35 York Street
St. John's, N.L.
A1C 5M3
Canada
Tel.: (709) 722-1811

4th Floor
111 Queen Street East
Toronto, ON.
M5C 1S2
Tel.: (416) 504-1811

E-Mail: tdp@turnerdrake.com
Internet: www.turnerdrake.com

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# Friday, May 13, 2016

Every year at this time, the Island welcomes the prospect of summer with an explosion of colour: yellow daffodils, orange tulips, green grass, blue skies and dancing waters. Less welcome is the annual burden heralded by flowering of the 2016 Assessment Notices. If you are a property owner, you should have received it by now. It was officially mailed on May 6th and you have 90 days in which to file an appeal or wear the consequences for the rest of the year. If your property is enrolled in our PAMSTM Property Tax Manager program, you can relax; we are already reviewing your assessment and will file an appeal if the opportunity exists to reduce your tax load. If your property is not yet PAMSTM protected, procrastinate not: you have work to do.

The legislated basis for your Year 2016 assessment is your property’s Market Value on January 1st, 2016. However, the Assessment Act also implicitly includes a “uniformity” provision hidden in the appeal process, so similar properties are required to have similar assessments. You should appeal your assessment if:

(1) Its Assessed Value > Market Value as of January 1st, 2016, or

(2) Its Assessed Value > Assessed Value of Similar Properties.

The first test is to estimate your property’s Market Value on January 1st, i.e. the price it would fetch had it been offered for sale during the last six months of 2015. Purchasers look to the future, but their expectations are usually coloured by recent history. So if, for example, you own a tourist related facility, your 2015 season will impact its value to the degree that it would influence potential purchasers for 2016 and beyond. The Market Value too is based on its anticipated selling price… not the price that would persuade you to dispose of the property.

In 2012, our Economic Intelligence Unit conducted a demographic study of Atlantic Canada for a national client. Their study utilised data from the 2001, 2006 and 2011 Statistics Canada censuses. The rate at which our regional population aged during that period is frightening; the rate at which it will age over the next ten years is terrifying. Last year, a government initiated study was released, which reviewed the changes to the economy resulting from that demographic change. The report studied Nova Scotia but its conclusions apply to all three Maritime Provinces. The report is not a happy read.

If you own a “lifestyle property,” e.g. motel, golf course, vineyard, restaurant, etc., past sales of similar properties may not be a reliable indicator of your property’s current Market Value. This type of property is usually owned by an owner operator, many of whom are now reaching retirement age. Unfortunately, the pool of prospective purchasers is shrinking rapidly as the entire population ages. Fewer purchasers translate into lower values. This is over and above any adverse impact resulting from declining tourist dollars as Americans in particular shun foreign travel.

If you own an office building in Charlottetown, you may be suffering from burdensome vacancy rates. Our most recent survey (December 2015) covered 100% of the rental stock and revealed an overall 15.69% vacancy rate… well above the sustainable economic rate and up from 10.4% from the previous year. Our survey of industrial space recorded an overall vacancy of 14.00%. If you own an office or industrial building, you should carefully consider if an appeal is warranted.

The provincial assessment authority sometimes assesses property at less than its Market Value to forestall appeals. There is an assumption by most property owners that they will not be able to successfully challenge an assessment if it is less than the property’s Market Value… even if the assessment is higher than those of similar properties. This is not the case. Buried in the appeal section of the provincial Real Property Assessment Act is the requirement that “the Minister shall demonstrate the uniformity of the assessment in relation to other assessments” (Section 28 [1]). Thus, albeit somewhat belatedly, does the Assessment Act acknowledge that similar properties should have similar assessments. Comparing commercial properties and their assessments can be a little tricky however, which is why we have built an Assessment Database for the entire province that allows us to conduct peer group comparisons… and quickly determine whether your property is uniformly assessed.

The Bottom Line: Fortune favours the brave.

Action Required: Call our PEI Tax Team members Mark Turner and André Pouliot at 902-368-1811 (Charlottetown) or toll free at 1-800-567-3033. Alternatively, you can email them at markturner@turnerdrake.com or apouliot@turnerdrake.com. Using our proprietary software CompuVal®, our PEI Assessment and Transactional Databases, and basic property information provided by yourself, they can usually determine in a five minute telephone conversation whether you should appeal. There is no charge for this service, nor will big men come to call.

Friday, May 13, 2016 3:41:46 PM (Atlantic Daylight Time, UTC-03:00)  #    -
Prince Edward Island | Property Tax