Thursday, September 20, 2018

Opinion: Benefits of tax relief should be extended to commercial properties in Vancouver

This week, owners of more than 522,000 properties throughout Greater Vancouver can expect to receive their 2018 assessment notices.

The new assessments can also be found on-line at bcassessment.ca. All you need do is type in your address or, for that matter, your neighbour’s, relative’s or ex-spouse’s address to see what their homes may be worth.

I say “may be worth” since many property values have changed since July 1, 2017 when valuations were carried out.

Unlike last year, when assessment increases of 30 to 50 per cent were typical for single-family homes in Vancouver, North and West Vancouver, Burnaby, Tri-Cities and New Westminster, and typical condominium increases throughout these areas were in the 15 to 30 per cent range, this year’s adjustments are generally much more modest.

According to BC Assessment, within Greater Vancouver new single-family assessments ranged from a five per cent drop to a 15 per cent increase. Condominiums generally increased between five per cent and 35 per cent. In Vancouver, the overall increase was 5.63 per cent.

This still translated into an increase of more than $1,000 a day for many West Side Vancouver homeowners.

Other property owners witnessed even more dramatic increases if their property was within a neighbourhood rezoned for higher density development or so designated in a community plan. Vancouver examples include Grandview-Woodlands, Cambie Corridor and Marpole, to name just three.

It is important to remember that assessment increases do not automatically translate into property tax increases. Rather, changes in property tax are determined by the overall municipal tax increase — in Vancouver, council approved a last-minute 4.24 per cent increase — and a homeowner’s change in a property assessment compared to the municipal average.

As regular readers of this column are aware, many households who cannot afford to pay their taxes, or do not want to pay can defer payment.

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