Starting in early January the City of Calgary mailed out the 2008 Property Tax Assessments. In almost all communities of the city the average value of properties as estimated on July 1, 2007 went up over the July 1, 2006 value. It seems this year, more than in previous years, home and condo owners are confused about the assessed value of their properties. Here are some explanations for that confusion.
The 2008 property taxes in Calgary are based on values from 6 months ago. Since the end of June, 2007 property values in Calgary have experienced some adjustment. The average MLS condo sale price for the month of June, 2007 was the third highest on record for the Calgary Real Estate Board. Since then average values have decreased 6 %. Remember, your tax assessment is based on values from 6 months ago, not today’s value. In the previous 2 tax years as values went up steadily, the taxpayer reaped the benefits of the rising market, by paying taxes on the previous year’s lower value. 2008 is the flip side of that rising market.
It is important to remember that the tax assessment system is more art than science. Errors will occur and the city has an appeal process in place to deal with that. Consider that condos in the same building of the same size and features are assessment thousands of dollars difference in value. Why? Several factors can come into play. A view in one is of course worth more than a suite without a desirable view, an unrenovated condo has less value than one renovated, a premium will obviously be assessed to a penthouse suite over a unit several floors beneath it. Errors in the system do occur. A beltline condo I had listed at the beginning of this year for $499,900 was assessed at $851,000! No amount of market correction can explain that. Needless to say the owners are appealing that assessment.
Another source of confusion for condo owners this year has been the assessed value for their titled parking stalls. Five years ago inner city stalls were almost all assessed $5000. Two years ago many jumped in value to $10,000. Many of my clients this year are calling to voice their shock over their stalls assessment of $30,000. Keep in mind the city uses fair market value to determine property values. Yes, a parking stall in downtown Calgary is easily worth $30,000. New condo developments in the inner city sell extra stalls for this amount and more. If this is what they sell for on the open market it makes sense the city is going to collect tax on it.
No matter what your property is assessed it is important to keep in mind where your tax dollars go. Transit, roads, garbage pick up, utility maintenance, libraries, community and recreation centres, parks, schools, emergency services, green spaces and so much more that our city offers are paid for by our tax dollars. All in all, Calgary is a pretty great place to live. If, however, you feel you are paying more than your fair share your notice of assessment has information on how you can appeal the value of your condo.