Frequently Asked Questions

Assessor Request For Information Forms

What is the difference between an appraisal and an assessment?


An appraisal is a professional opinion of value by a licensed and accredited appraiser. Someone who holds the AACI or CRA or P.App Designation behind their name is considered to be a professional appraiser and can legally perform the duties of an appraiser. Assessment is the act of putting a value on a property for taxation purposes. Within the Province of Alberta it is required that assessors use "mass appraisal" to establish assessed values. It can be summed up by the quote "Appraisers Value the Tree, Assessors Value the Forest"




Why do we have to fill out the Assessors Request For Information form (ARFI)?


Property Assessments in Alberta are an annual function. Each year, new, current data is required to ensure the assessments are as accurate and reliable as possible. Non-Residential property assessments are calculated using the Income Approach to value and current lease rates and expenses are crucial to ensuring an accurate and reliable assessment.




What assurance does a property owner have that the information provided will remain confidential?


The information collected is held in confidence and only used for assessment purposes under section 9 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA). The information collected is not sold, shared, or given to any other party, either Government or private. No personal information that is supplied is given out at any time (In accordance with FOIP). Assessment purposes includes, the creation of assessments, model building and the assessment appeal process.




What about FOIP?


FOIP applies to your personal information, such as birthdate, social insurance number, home or business mailing address, telephone number, age, sex, race, religion, marital status, fingerprints, biometrics, blood type, genetic information, health, and education. For a full list please see the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Section 1(n) – Definition of “Personal Information”.




Are we Government or a department of the Government?


As assessors we are appointed by your Town, Village, County or City Council to act on behalf of the Municipality as a “designated officer” in the preparation of Assessments. We are a function of Municipal government and are audited annually by the Provincial Government (Department of Municipal Affairs Assessment Audit). To be an assessor you must meet the requirements set out in the Municipal Assessor Regulation (MAR) which is established by the Minister. “Practice of Assessment” is also defined in the MAR.




Do I have the right to appeal if I do not fill out the Assessors Request For Information?


Non-compliance “CAN result in a loss to appeal your assessment”. It is not the assessor that dictates this, it is the Provincial Legislation (Municipal Government Act – MGA) Sections 294 and 295. Regardless of whether you supply the requested information you will always have the right to appeal. Whether your appeal goes to a merit hearing (hearing about the issue being raised) or gets heard by an Assessment Revie Board (ARB) is another issue.

Non-compliance has been held time and time again by the Assessment Review Boards as a legitimate reason to consider an assessment appeal invalid (in accordance with the legislation). The Assessment Review Board will hold a “preliminary” hearing to establish whether the full complaint should be heard by an Assessment Review Board or not. No property valuation issues will be heard at the preliminary hearing, and if it is determined that the property owner did not comply, their complaint will be considered invalid and their full complaint about the assessment will not be heard by the Assessment Review Board any further (it will not go to merit hearing). The Assessment Review Board (not the assessor) will make the final decision on whether a complaint is valid or not.




If I don't return the forms, how do you arrive at the assessment?


The Matters Relating to Assessment and Taxation Regulation (MRAT) requires the use of “typical” rates to assess property within the Province of Alberta. If you do contribute information for assessment purposes (lease rates, sales info, etc..) then your information will be considered in the overall rates used to calculate the assessments. If you do not comply, you are subject to the rates we determine are “typical” without your contribution to the study. As with any analysis or study, the more accurate and reliable information supplied to the analyst, the more accurate and reliable the results will be. It is important to note that the assessment is always calculated using “typical” rates. As mentioned, the rates you provide may or may not be used to determine your assessment. If your rates are found to be “typical” then they may be used, if they are not found to be “typical” then other rates will be used.

If you do not return your forms, then you CAN lose your right to appeal the subsequent assessment.




What about the appeal fees?


If you appeal your assessment to the Assessment Review Board (CARB or LARB), and you are unsuccessful at either a preliminary or merit hearing, your appeal fee will be kept by the Assessment Review Board.

If you are successful at the merit hearing, your appeal fee will be refunded to you by the Assessment Review Board.

If you come to agreement with the Assessor prior to the hearing and your complaint is withdrawn, your appeal fee will be refunded to you by the Assessment Review Board.

If you decide not to proceed with your complaint and withdraw your complaint prior to the Respondents Disclosure of Evidence Deadline, your appeal fee will be refunded to you by the Assessment Review Board. If it is after the Disclosure deadline, your appeal fee may be kept by the Assessment Review Board (This differs by Municipality).




Why is the income approach used?


The income approach is based on the Economic principle of anticipation. It is the conversion of an income stream (rental rates) to a net operating income (NOI) after stabilized deductions are applied, that is capitalized into value (using a Capitalization Rate). The income approach is the most widely used method of valuing non-residential properties; both by assessors and appraisers. It is the approach most investors will use when determining a price, they are willing to pay for a property based on its income earning potential and rates of return. It is a widely used approach which is generally understood in the marketplace.




My property is owner occupied; do I still need to return the forms?


Yes. There are many more questions than just lease information questions on the forms, further to that, leasing status & expenses can and often do change year-over-year.




How can I return the forms?


At the top of this website there is a butten titled "Assessors Request For Information"; Select that button and then proceed to fill out the applicable form for your property. Once completed, hit the submit button and it will be submitted... Done! You can also attach 1 document and up to 3 photos. Alternately the forms can be printed, emailed, faxed, or mailed.




How long do I have to return the form?


The Municipal Government Act (MGA) states 60 days. We often provide 60 days plus 7 days for mailing (so ~67 days in total).





Assessment Appeal

When can I appeal my Assessment?


Each year the municipality will mail you your assessment notice. From the declared date of mailing you have 60 days to file an appeal with the Clerk of the Assessment Review Board. Details should be available on the back of your assessment notice.




What should I do if I dont agree with the Assessed Value?


The first step would be to contact your assessor. It is always preferred to email as it keeps things in writing and allows each party to the conversation the ability to respond when available. If you and the assessor cannot come to an understanding or agreement then you are left with the option to appeal your assessment to the Assessment Review Board. All appeals must be filed with the appropriate fee by the deadline stated on your assessment notice.




What is the Assessment Review Board?


In the Local Assessment Review Board (LARB - RESIDENTIAL), Composite Assessment Review Board (CARB - NON-RESIDENTIAL), and Municipal Government Board (MGB - LINEAR) there is no “judge” and therefore the “board” is limited to its decisions. In the CARB and MGB there will be a Provincially appointed Chairman of the Board to guide the process.

These boards are “fact finders” referred to as: quasi-judicial tribunals which receive their authority to be formed and make their decisions from the legislation (MGA, MRAT, MRAC, Etc…), the same way the assessor receives its authority and directive from the legislation (MGA & QAR).

This legislation is known as “empowering legislation” for this purpose.

For example, the Municipal Government Act in “Division 2 Decisions of Assessment Review Boards” (Page 288) it is outlined as to what a board can and cannot decide.

MGA: “467(1) An assessment review board may, with respect to any matter referred to in section 460(5), make a change to an assessment roll or tax roll or decide that no change is required.

(2) An assessment review board must dismiss a complaint that was not made within the proper time or that does not comply with section 460(9).

(3) An assessment review board must not alter any assessment that is fair and equitable, taking into consideration

(a) the valuation and other standards set out in the regulations,

(b) the procedures set out in the regulations, and

(c) the assessments of similar property or businesses in the same municipality.




What peices of legislation should I be aware of?


There are 5 primary pieces of legislation dealing with the Assessment process in the Province of Alberta. They are:

  1. The Municipal Government Act (MGA) – Primary Legislation
  2. The Matters Relating to Assessment and Taxation Regulation (MRAT)
  3. The Matters Relating to Assessment Complaints Regulation (MRAC)
  4. The Matters Relating to Assessment Sub-Classes Regulation (MRAS)
  5. The Qualifications of Assessor Regulation (QAR)




Does the Assessment Review Board do a re-assessment of the property?


Many people will appeal their Assessment under the belief that the Assessor or the Assessment Review Board will do a re-assessment. This is not the case. You can request a re-assessment by the Assessor, however, it will usually be done in the year of your request, AFTER the appeal period has completed (usually in the fall). If you are reviewing your assessment details or property details and an error is found (ie, the size of the home, age of the home, style, etc..) then the Assessor can review and correct the error prior to a hearing or the filing of a formal complaint.

When a formal complaint has been filed it is not sufficient to state that “the assessment is too high”. The onus rests with the ratepayer or person filing the complaint to show or prove to the Assessor and Board why they feel the assessment is incorrect. It will be the onus of the Assessor to show the board why the assessment is correct and in accordance with the legislation.

The Board should only be used if the ratepayer and Assessor cannot come to agreement within the 60-day appeal period window. It is also important to note that once a formal complaint has been filed, the Assessor is no longer able to supply the ratepayer or taxpayer with information; so, all information requests should be made prior to filing the formal complaint.




What about Appeal Fees


The appeal fee will differ by municipality, according to their fee bylaw.

It is very common to see a $50 appeal fee for Residential and up to $650 for Non-Residential properties.

If you appeal your assessment to the Assessment Review Board (CARB or LARB), and you are unsuccessful at either a preliminary or merit hearing, your appeal fee will be kept by the Assessment Review Board.

If you are successful at the merit hearing, your appeal fee will be refunded to you by the Assessment Review Board.

If you come to agreement with the Assessor prior to the hearing and your complaint is withdrawn, your appeal fee will be refunded to you by the Assessment Review Board.

If you decide not to proceed with your complaint and withdraw your complaint prior to the Respondents Disclosure of Evidence Deadline, your appeal fee will be refunded to you by the Assessment Review Board. If it is after the Disclosure deadline, your appeal fee may be kept by the Assessment Review Board (This differs by Municipality).





Basic Assessment Info

What does "Improvement" mean?


The term “improvement” does not apply to any actual improvements done to a home or property throughout the year. Assessors have two classifications: vacant and improved. If there is a home / garage / shop / building / fence / shed on the property, then the property is considered “improved”.




My Assessment increased/decreased alot.  There must be a mistake.


Assessors are restricted from viewing assessments based on a Year-Over-Year (YOY) change basis (% changes up or down). Assessors do not assess based on yearly change, and there are far too many variables in calculating the assessment of a property to be able to pin-point what individual items would cause a change.

Each year’s assessment is independent of the previous. It is calculated fresh with the available information at that time and as mentioned is calculated “anew”. Every year the Government of Alberta releases new numbers that are used as a base for calculating assessments. It would be exceedingly rare to see the assessment stay the same for any number of years in a row. In addition to the Government figures changing annually, the sales within the database are coming in and going out, and that too can and often does impact values in an inconsistent way with relation to market value.




What is a Market Value Assessment?


An Assessment in Alberta is an Estimate of Market Value using "mass appraisal" as of the date of valuation (July 1 in the year prior to taxation). There are many definitions of value, ie. current market value, retrospective market value, agricultural value, value in use, etc.... One of the key differences for Market Value Assessments in the Province of Alberta is the requirement to calculate it using "mass appraisal"

An Assessor must prepare an assessment for every property within their municipality. The assessments according to legislation are to be calculated using “mass appraisal” and demonstrate a relationship with market value.

The assessment is not the highest sale price, the lowest sale price, or even an average of sales prices; It is based on “the collective actions of the market” and applied through a model. It is quite common to see an assessed value or even an appraised value that is different from its sale price, as the assessment is not the sale price.

Assessments, Appraisals, and Comparative Market Analysis’s from realtors are each prepared for their own purpose and following their own set of rules and guidelines. There is no “one size fits all” definition of market value if the rules are different in its calculation.

Mass appraisal requires the use of statistical testing. Statistics are used to ensure uniform application of the rates applied to the model(s) and test the assessments against sales prices to ensure they fall within an acceptable range of market value (the median assessment to sales ratio (ASR) for each strata group (type of property) is legislated to be between 95% and 105%). The assessor is not trying to pin-point a single definitive value on any given property within a municipality, as it is not “site-specific”.




What is Mass Appraisal?


An appraisal is an estimate of value. Mass appraisal is the process of valuing a group of properties as of a given date, using common data, mathematical models, and statistical tests. Mass appraisal techniques allow assessors to accurately value a large number of properties in a short period of time.




What are the Valuation & Condition Dates?


In Alberta, there are two key legislated dates by which certain assessment processes must be complete—the valuation date and the physical condition date.
The valuation date is a fixed point in time at which assessment values are based. The valuation date ensures that all properties in a municipality are valued as of the same date. The valuation date established by legislation is July 1. For example, for the 2018 tax year, the valuation date for property assessment is July 1, 2017. This means that a 2018 property assessment must reflect the value of the property as of July 1, 2017.
The second legislated date in the valuation process is the “characteristics and physical condition” date. This is the date on which the condition of the property is recorded for property assessment purposes. Under Alberta legislation, the condition date for property other than designated industrial property is December 31. For example, for the 2018 tax year, the condition date would be December 31, 2017. This means that although the value of the property reflects the market conditions as of July 1, it must reflect the physical condition of the property as of December, 31.
Example: If a garage has been added to the property during 2017, the property assessment for the 2018 tax year would be based on its market value as of July 1, 2017. The previous year’s property assessment would not have included the garage because it was not built by the condition date (December 31, 2016).




Can I request details about my Assessment?


Yes! Under MGA Section 299 and 300, you have the right to receive information on your property assessment and "summary" information on other assessments within the same municipality. It is encourage to send an email or message to your assessor and request a copy of your assessment records to ensure they are correct. A summary of an assessment must include the following information that is in the assessor’s possession or under the assessor’s control at the time of the request:
a) a description of the parcel of land and any improvements, to identify the type and use of the property;
b) the size and measurements of the parcel of land;
c) the age and size or measurement of any improvements;
d) the key attributes of any improvements to the parcel of land;
e) the assessed value and any adjustments to the assessed value of the parcel of land; and
f) any other information prescribed or otherwise described in the regulations. Please note: If the person has filed a complaint against the assessment for that property, the municipality is no longer obligated to respond to a request for information until the complaint has been heard and decided by an assessment review board.




I just bought my house and the Assessment is Higher/Lower....


Sometimes the market value assessment of a property is assumed to be the sale price of an individual property. It is important to note that a market value assessment may not be the sale price. The sale price is an historical fact.
The sale price is the amount the purchaser agrees to pay and the seller agrees to accept under the circumstances surrounding the sale. A sale price might not equal market value for any of the following reasons:
• The sale might not have occurred in the assessment year or the date on which the property was valued.
• The purchaser might not have been aware that similar properties were selling for more or less than the price for which the property was purchased.
• The buyer or seller may have been unduly motivated (for example, transferred to another city, needed to sell property as part of a divorce settlement, etc.).
• The sale may have involved a trade, partial interest, special financing, personal property, or assumed leases.
Assessors gather information on ranges of sale prices in the marketplace. This statistical data is used as part of the process for calculating market value assessments (see "mass appraisal").
Sale price information helps to develop market value assessments. Assessments are calculated by analyzing the range of sale prices of groups of similar properties at a specific point in time. Several sales of similar properties are compared to determine "typical" market values of specific types of properties that have similar characteristics.




I just got an appraisal and the value is Higher/Lower then the Assessment


An Assessment for taxation purposes is just that. It is an estimate of value determined using mass appraisal as of July 1 in the year prior to taxation, used only for fairly and equitably distributing the tax burden within a municipality. No one other than the assessor or the municipality should "rely" on the assessed value. An appraisal is an individual appraisers opinion of value for whatever purpose is stated in the appraisal report. If it is an appraisal for financing or purchase financing, then that will be the appraisers estimate of value for that purpose and calculated following the lenders special requirements (ie, house and one outbuilding with a maximum site size of 3 acres). An appraiser is not required to value as of the same date as the assessor, nor is the appraiser required to use mass appraisal or follow Provincial assessment legislation. An appraiser can use the comparable sales that he/she determines to be the most similar to your property in accordance with the client or lenders requirements. An assessor is bound by legislation to value your property in a similar way (method/technique) to every other similar property within the municipality or market area. It is quite common to see an appraised value or sale price that is different then the assessment. The assessment is not the sale price or appraised value. If the appraisal has been prepared after July 1 in the year prior to taxation, it would be considered "post-facto" or "after the fact". The assessors cut-off date for sales inputs into the model is legislated to be July 1 in the year prior to taxation. All sales, appraisals, leases or such that are after that July 1 date cannot reasonably be "known" by the assessor. None of the above is intended to imply that your appraisal is not useful. If you have an appraisal and you would like the assessor to consider it, please forward a complete copy of it to your assessor for consideration. If you have any questions about either assessment or appraisal, your assessor should be able to help you out.





Additional Information

Where can I get more info on Assessments in Alberta?


If you would like to know more about the overall assessment process the Department of Municipal Affairs has a highly informative and comprehensive “Guide to Property Assessment and Taxation in Alberta [2018]” available for download at the following link:

Guide to property assessment and taxation in Alberta [2018]




Where can I get more info on Assessment Complaints in Alberta?


There is a guide to filing a complaint in Alberta which can be found here:

Filing a property assessment complaint and preparing for your hearing [2018]




Where can I get copies of the Legislation?


  1. The Municipal Government Act (MGA) – Primary Legislation
  2. The Matters Relating to Assessment and Taxation Regulation (MRAT)
  3. The Matters Relating to Assessment Complaints Regulation (MRAC)
  4. The Matters Relating to Assessment Sub-Classes Regulation (MRAS)
  5. The Qualifications of Assessor Regulation (QAR)

All of which can be found on the queens’ printer:

The Queen's Printer