Property taxes are a significant cost to owning a home, and no one likes to see their tax bill going up. But did you know that you can dispute your property assessment and have it reconsidered?
There are two ways to have your property assessment reconsidered – by submitting a Request for Reconsideration (RFR) with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) or by filing an appeal at the Assessment Review Board. This blog post will focus on the Request for Reconsideration process. The Assessment Review Board appeal process will be covered in a future post.
A RFR may be time-consuming to complete, but the process is free and the potential tax savings are worth it. Just note that for the 2014 tax year, your deadline to file a RFR with MPAC is March 31, 2014.You may file a RFR every tax year.
Understanding your Property Assessment
The first step in disputing your taxes is understanding how the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) made their original assessment. There two ways to do this, both of which are free.
If you contact MPAC (1-866-296-6722) a representative will review the information they have on file for your property, answer general questions you have about your assessment, and if necessary, make corrections.
Alternatively, MPAC’s website, www.aboutmyproperty.ca, is a self-service tool that lets you look up your property assessment information, and recent sales information for similar properties in your neighbourhood. You may correct errors in the assessment information and submit a Request for Reconsideration directly from the ‘About My Property’ website.
Registering for ‘About My Property’
If it is your first time using the ‘About My Property’ website, click the “Register Now” link. To register, you will need your property’s 19-digit roll number and access key, both of which appear on your most recent Property Assessment Notice. If you own multiple properties, each property will need to be registered separately.
No Roll Number or Access Key?
If you do not have your most recent Property Assessment Notice and do not know the roll number or access key, first obtain the roll number by calling your municipality’s Property Tax or Revenue Division. For Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge, the contact numbers are as follows:
City of Kitchener Revenue Division: 519-741-2450
City of Waterloo Revenue Services: 519-747-8718
City of Cambridge Property Taxes: 519 740-4524
After you get the roll number, call MPAC at 1-866-296-6722 to get assistance with registering for ‘About My Property’. Please note that you must have the roll number when you call MPAC.
Using ‘About My Property’ to Obtain Assessment Information
Answers to common questions on how to use ‘About My Property’ are available at:
From ‘About My Property’, you may obtain a Detailed Property Profile Report, which contains all of the assessment information that MPAC has on file for your property. The website also allows you to obtain assessment and sales information for up to 24 properties of your choice and 6 similar properties selected by MPAC, for free.
Submitting a Request for Reconsideration
If you want to dispute your property assessment, you may submit a Request for Reconsideration from ‘About My Property’, at no charge. In the RFR form, you must set out the grounds on which you are disputing the assessment. It is important to include supporting documentation, such as pictures of the property, a copy of a home appraisal report from your mortgage lender, and sales data from similar properties. You should make the most of the free assessment and sales information that is available on ‘About My Property’ before starting the RFR form.
Some of the grounds for submitting a RFR are:
- The assessed value of your property is quite different from similar properties in the area
- MPAC’s records are incorrect – for example, the lot or building size is overstated
- The property was purchased close to MPAC’s valuation date, and the purchase price is a significantly different amount than the assessed value
- There are unique factors that negatively impact the property’s current value, which were not taken into consideration in the current assessment, e.g. the property is located on major, high-traffic road, while the comparable properties are on quiet streets.
MPAC will review your RFR submission and provide a written response, setting out its reasons. You can review the status of your RFR from ‘About My Property’. If you are unhappy with MPAC’s decision, you have 90 days from the decision date to file an appeal with the Assessment Review Board. The appeals process will to be discussed in a future blog post.