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Gordon Campbell’s new property-tax plans raise questions

November 4th, 2008 · 3 Comments

You might have missed it in all the other excitment, but the premier of B.C. made an announcement Saturday that he is freezing property assessments and allowing anyone, not just people over 55, to defer their property taxes. What does that all mean, you may ask yourself.

Well, even if you didn’t, a lot of mayors and city finance directors around the province did on Sunday and Monday as they tried to figure out exactly what impact that would have for their cities. They eventually got some answers, but there are still more to come, as I note in my story today.

A point I didn’t raise in the story is that, while the property assessments won’t have much impact on your city tax bill, one place where there might potentially be an impact is with your TransLink taxes. Remember a couple of years ago, TransLink ended up getting a lot more income than it had anticipated because property assessments went up dramatically between the time it set its tax rate and the time the assessments were finalized.

I suspect TransLink has fixed that glitch but, if it hasn’t, this year there won’t be any possiblity of that happening since assessments won’t change from what they were in 2007.

For those who didn’t figure out the math on this already, the property market started to slide down around the beginning of June (according to sources) or the end of June (according to others). That means that the assessments, which are calculated based on property values as of July 1, would have been at the peak of the market.

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  • Dawn Steele

    When I heard the Premier’s announcement, I wondered how freezing property assessments would offer anyone any recession relief, since municipalities could just hike their tax rates accordingly to avoid coming up short.

    Two weeks later, is Frances the only BC reporter who’s managed to figure out that this was simply pre-election smoke & mirrors?

  • Susan Heyes

    Thank you for articulating this, Frances – Campbell has fixed our property taxes at a much higher rate than they would have been, if they were based on actual current values.
    And 40% of this goes to TransLink.

  • julia

    there appears to be a fundamental misunderstanding of how taxes are calculated.
    1) Values for 2009 tax year were set in July 2008 with the condition set in October. By reverting to the 2007 valuation date, there is some sort of hope that the last 16 months of up and down fuctuation will be dispensed with and the current values will be closer to July 07 than July 08. In my personal case, this is true.

    2)this in no way changes how taxes are collected. The city sets the budget, and all classes of properties pay a proportionate share of that total. If your property went up more than the average – you will pay more. If it went down more than the average – you will pay less. The same amount of total tax is collected regardless of what is done with assessments.

    The freeze on assessments appears to be nothing more than optics.