New Legislation has been passed to help home owners fight their property taxes.
Property owners to get a fairer assessment appeal system
A fairer property tax appeal system is expected with changes announced by the provincial government. The changes mean the onus of proof on property assessment appeals is reversed so that, when a property owner appeals an assessment, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) would be required to prove the accuracy of the new assessment. The government move follows the Ombudsman’s recommendation that this measure would enhance the fairness of the appeal process. The legislation would place the onus on MPAC to prove the accuracy of property assessments that are appealed to the Assessment Review Board (ARB).
The government also intends to introduce legislation to implement changes to the assessment appeal system announced in the 2007 Budget — changes designed to create a more streamlined and transparent appeal system. A key proposed change would make the Request for Reconsideration (RFR) program the first stage of the appeal process for property owners. The RFR, which is free of charge, encourages the sharing of information between MPAC and the property owner, and provides taxpayers with the opportunity to resolve their concerns directly with MPAC in an informal setting.
The Ministry of Finance is also working with MPAC and the ARB to disclose valuation information to taxpayers about their property assessment in a timely way. This will help property owners review the accuracy of their assessment, decide whether to engage in the RFR process, and prepare for their hearing if they decide to appeal to the ARB.
These measures are proposed to take effect for the 2009 taxation year. Details about the proposed new appeal procedures and deadlines will be communicated to property owners in the coming months, prior to the 2009 implementation date.
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