Is there a difference between Assessment & Appraisal?
Yes. Appraisal and Assessment follow similar principles; however, they greatly differ in scope.
Appraisal is: the valuation of a single property for many different purposes.
Assessment is: the valuation of an entire group of properties for municipal taxation purposes only. It is better explained by some as follows:
"Appraisers value the tree. Assessors value the forest."
What is assessment?
In its most simple form, assessment is a tax on wealth gauged by the value of your property (ad valorem). This tax is used primarily for local government to enhance and maintain the municipality you live in.
Why is the assessment different than an appraised value or sale price?
The Province of Alberta has specific legislation in place (see below) to ensure fair and equitable distribution of the tax burden. The assessors are required to follow this legislation when preparing your assessment. Such differences require the use of mass appraisal vs. single property appraisal, and statistical testing to ensure a level of accuracy and consistency amongst assessed values within a municipality.
The primary goal in assessment is a level of market value, and fair process; not a pin-pointed single property appraised value. The general concept is that if everyone’s property value is calculated the same way, using the same uniform methods and techniques, while using sales prices within the municipality as the benchmark, than a level of market value will be achieved and the tax distribution should be fair and equitable.
Who is the assessor and who says they can be an assessor?
The assessor is appointed by the municipality and must meet the qualifications set out in the Municipal Assessor Regulation (MAR). Such legislation requires the assessor to be accredited by recognized appraisal and/or assessment organizations. Municipalities employing Powers & Associates for mass appraisal purposes, have an advantage in obtaining a firm that has staff which are accredited in Assessment AND Appraisal in the Province of Alberta.
I’ve received my tax notice and it seems incorrect, what should I do to confirm my assessment?
Check the neighboring assessments. The full assessment roll is available for viewing at the Civic Centre, City Hall, and Village/Town Office on a self-serve basis.
Alternately the information (assessment, size, year built, etc…) may be made available on the City/Town/Village website. If assistance is required by municipal staff, a fee may be associated.
What should I be checking for?
The goal is to find houses/properties that are similar to yours, i.e. two stories should be compared with two stories, bungalows to bungalows, and bi-levels to bi-levels.
Many factors are taken into consideration in preparing the assessment and it is important to also consider these things when making comparison.
· Lot size,
· age of home,
· house size,
· number of bathrooms,
· finishing materials,
· basement finish, etc.
Much of this information is not available on the website, however, an appointment with the assessor can assist in acquiring this information. There is no fee to meet with the assessor, and the City of Leduc provides on-site assessment staff (within the civic centre) for its ratepayers.
Why do I have to do all of this work? Isn’t it the assessor’s problem?
The assessor spends the year preceding the mailing of the assessment notices, preparing the assessment for yours and every other property in the municipality. The assessor has already put out an assessed value of your home that they have determined to be fair and equitable. The onus is then shifted to the ratepayer (you) to show and prove the assessor is incorrect.
I have done all of the above, now what should I do?
You can set an appointment with the assessor to discuss your assessment and/or fill out the back of your tax notice and file a formal appeal.
Why should I talk to the assessor?
The assessor is the most qualified person to assist you in understanding the assessment of your property. If an error is discovered, the assessor can amend the assessment.
It is important to remember that a reduced assessment will then spread the tax burden amongst the rest of the other ratepayers (your neighbors). Therefore, if there is no error that permits the assessor to adjust your assessment, the assessor will work diligently to protect the rest of the ratepayers by defending the assessed value of your home.
What do I need to know about the appeal process?
The appeal process is used when the ratepayer (you) and the assessor cannot come to agreement. The Assessment Review Board (ARB) is established as a quasi-judicial tribunal to provide you with a venue of complaint and possible resolution.
It is important to recognize that the ARB receives its authority from Provincial Legislation, and is bound by such legislation in making its decisions. The ARB cannot change an assessment that is fair and equitable after taking into consideration the legislation that was followed in the preparation of the assessment.
The ARB must act as an un-bias panel of reviewing members to determine if all legal requirements have been met, and either confirm the assessment or change the assessment. The ARB does not hear issues with TAX and only has the jurisdiction to hear complaints about assessed values.
ARB refers to both the LARB & CARB
LARB: Local Assessment Review Board - residential
CARB: Composite Assessment Review Board – non-residential
Note: Effective January 1, 2010 neither board can be appealed to the MGB.
Can’t I just appeal the Taxes on my property?
No. The assessment base (total assessments for all property in the municipality) is provided to council (your elected officials – appointed by you to act on your behalf). Council cannot make a “profit”, and therefore simply allocates the tax burden required to run the municipality, and collect the required amount invoiced by the Province for school support taxes.
Taxes are a direct result of a calculation that is applied to every property in the municipality to share the tax burden accordingly. Therefore, the only error that can be made/appealed (effecting your level of tax) is an error in the assessed value of your property.
(Tax Rate / 1,000) X Assessment = Tax $$
The appeal costs money? Will I get that back if I win?
If you and the assessor come to an agreement, or if the Assessment Review Board decides in your favor, you will receive a refund of your appeal fee. If you are unsuccessful in your appeal, you will not.
How do I appeal my assessment?
You are required to fill out the standardized Provincial form that accompanied your tax notice. If you have lost that form you can acquire a new one here:
Can I hire someone to help me with my appeal?
Yes. Many appraisal companies can assist you in determining a market value of your property on July 1 of the year previous to your assessment notice. There are also tax agents that work for companies such as Altus Group and Lawyers who practice in the area of real estate.
Note: Not all appraisal companies are created equally, it is important that they be familiar with assessment legislation and process. Ask them befor you hire them.
Effective January 01, 2010 an agent acting on your behalf must fill out a Assessment Complaints Agent Authorization form provided by the Provincial Government. This form can be obtained here:
Can I appoint my neighbor, son, friend, etc… to act on my behalf?
Yes, you can appoint anyone you would like. However, the person appointed should be over the age of 18 and will be required to present the same Assessment Complaints Agent Authorization signed by you to act on your behalf (power of attorney).
You will be legally bound to the consequences that come about (good or bad) as a result of your appointed agents actions, so please be aware of their credentials.
What about realtors?
Realtors can assist you in pulling and viewing sales of property similar to yours. It is important that the realtor, appraiser, or any other person you have assist you has some understanding of the legislation, process, and key dates surrounding property tax assessment in Alberta.
It is also important to remember that the Real Estate Act regulates what a realtor can and cannot do. A realtor is not allowed to perform an appraisal or provide any estimate of value outside the parameters of listing a property for sale unless specifically designated to do so, with the applicable associations.
· Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC)
· Alberta Assessors Association (AAA)
· Canadian National Association of Real Estate Appraisers (CNAREA)
If you choose to have a realtor represent you, they are also required to fill out an Assessment Complaints Agent Authorization form.
What legislation is applicable and what dates?
The two primary pieces of legislation that will affect your assessment and the appeal of your assessment are:
· The Municipal Government Act – Part 9
· The Assessment Complaints and Appeals Regulation.
Both of these pieces of Provincial Legislation set out the requirements for both parties (the complainant-you and the respondent-assessor).
The Matters Relating to Assessment and Taxation Regulation may also prove useful, as it sets-out the quality standards for assessments in the Province of Alberta.
What key dates?
You have 60 days from the date of mailing to file your complaint with the clerk of the Local Assessment Review Board (LARB) or Composite Assessment Review Board (CARB).
You must follow the rules of disclosure and specified dates in the assessment complaints and appeal regulations (different for each property type).
Disclosure? I don’t want to show the assessor my case. Do I have to?
The LARB and CARB are not permitted to view or hear anything that was not disclosed prior to the hearing.
The goal of the appeal process is to reach a resolution, and if such can be accomplished without the use of the ARB, then all attempts should be made. The ARB should only be used as a final course of action, in the event you are unable to resolve the issue with the assessor.
Where can I get copies of this legislation?
What is the possible outcome of the LARB or CARB?
· The board can confirm or uphold the assessment
· The board can change the assessment (increase or decrease)
What will be required to present to the Assessment Review Board?
Your primary goal in the appeal process is to show and prove that the assessment is incorrect. The onus rests with you to prove to the board what your assessment should be. The board cannot reduce your assessment to an unknown amount. You must show a value, how that value was arrived at, and why it is more fair and equitable than the assessors’ value.
What should I do if I’m not sure? Should I appeal or not?
You only have 60 days to appeal. If you miss that window you have no other course of action. If you later find the assessment correct, you can withdraw and you will receive your appeal fee back.
By filing the appeal, you will have a little more time to research and prepare your case. As mentioned above, you can always withdraw.
Caution: If you appeal, you are required to follow the rules of disclosure. If you fail to comply you can be subject to fines and penalties.
I don’t want to upset the assessor by appealing, is there another way?
No. The assessor does not take appeals personally, they are professionals, and one of their primary goals is to ensure your assessment is fair, equitable, and correct. The process is not designed to hinder either party; the process is there to ensure accuracy, fairness, and equality.
Where can I get more information:
The Municipal Affairs (Provincial Government) site is another great source of information: