ISO 9001 | Regulated by RICS


Managing Property Taxes in New Brunswick

If you own real estate in New Brunswick, you will have received your annual 2015 Assessment Notice and Tax Bill by now. Notices were mailed on March 2nd and there is a 30 day request for review period that expires on April 1st. This is the only opportunity for a property owner to reduce their taxes this year!

Property taxes are a significant burden on businesses and typically account for anywhere from 40% to 50% of a building’s total operating costs. Owners of commercial property in New Brunswick typically pay the equivalent of the entire value of their property over approximately 22 years… In many cases before they’ve paid off their mortgage! 

Although property taxes are significant, many owners lack the tools and data to effectively manage their property taxes. The assessment of commercial property is a complicated process. Many properties, especially large retail properties, are purpose built for the owner or occupant and may not appeal to a broad array of potential purchasers. Even though they may have a significant “cost” a purpose built or branded property may in fact have very little value if there isn’t a captive market for it. 

The Assessment Act requires that property be assessed at its Real & True Value (aka market value) as of January 1st of the year in question. This definition seems transparent but the devil is in the details. The Act is silent on what constraints should be considered when determining a property’s value so one must have an understanding of precedent setting decisions, best practices, and the valuation expertise to correctly determine how a property’s unique attributes affect its value. The case law holds that Real and True Value is not the subjective test of “value to the owner” but rather the objective test of “value in exchange”. It’s important to ask the right question. Don’t ask at what price you’d be willing to sell, ask at what price a purchaser would be willing to buy!

Although not mandated in the Act, it is also important that assessments bear a fair relationship to others in the same taxing jurisdiction. Seasoned assessors recognise the importance of treating property owners fairly. The best way to do this is to compare your assessment per square foot to similar properties in your area. 

Many owners successfully navigate the appeal process on their own but our experience has shown there is a business case in seeking professional assistance when dealing with any commercial assessment. Although there is an investment required in obtaining a professional, it can be structured to eliminate the risk of the owner incurring a fee without obtaining a corresponding tax savings and typically the associated tax savings are 2-3 times the first year’s tax savings!

If you have questions concerning your property tax assessment, feel free to contact our New Brunswick tax team, Andre Pouliot or Chris Jobe (506) 634-1811 (Saint John) or 1-800-567-3033.

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