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LETTER: Something is fishy with these tax assessments

'We have tried for over a year to work with the province, but all we get are poorly thought out excuses'

PelhamToday received the following letter about property assessments in Niagara.

"In Ontario, 2023 property taxes are based on assessments as of Jan. 1, 2016, and the province has not yet specified a timeline for an update. Unfortunately, this continued delay in updating assessments has resulted in some properties paying up to 50% more property tax than they should."... excerpts from "Canadian Property Tax Rate Benchmark Report 2023, by the Altus Group:

Our new community is mostly made up of retired or semi-retired couples who have downsized from communities throughout Niagara Region and elsewhere. We were floored by our 2021 property tax bills that were as much as 30 per cent higher than the taxes on the larger homes on larger lots we left behind.

Firstly we turned to the Town, but then quickly discovered that there was something amiss with our property assessments. Using MPAC's "Browse Your Neighbourhood" website facility we developed a database of 350 properties and their assessed values.

The result —our database clearly showed that any new residence constructed after 2016 through to now in 2023 were over-assessed, as were many resales by as much as 45 per cent.

MPAC refused to admit that this was the case. We then escalated our complaint to the Minister of Finance, who it turns out ordered the deferment of the 2020 assessment cycle.

The Ministry offered two very weak and illogical reasons for the deferment:

  • to provide stability for municipalities,
  • to review alternative assessment methods.

Needless to say, we didn't buy the first excuse, so then they trotted out excuse No. 2. We didn't buy that one either — the deferment occurred in late 2019, early 2020 - nearly four years ago - the "review" should have been completed and the alternative system implemented by now.

It's not, in fact it has apparently only just started, but we keep asking why is it necessary to postpone the existing process while you study alternatives? Why wouldn't you leave it in place while you are doing your review?

The Ford government is hiding something and in doing so they are exposing every new home buyer in this province to an excessively high and burdensome property tax on top of the squeeze many of us are feeling from higher prices for just about everything.

We have tried for over a year to work with the province, but all we get are poorly thought out excuses that simply insult our intelligence - so now we are going public with another example of the extraordinarily destructive policies of this premier and his inner-most circle of advisers.

Don Rodbard