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Understanding Property Tax (and Possibly Deferring It, Too)

posted on 1:27 PM, October 28, 2016
Views from Coquitlam Town Centre highrise. credit: Richard Stewart

“BC’s property tax structure has to be one of the most misunderstood tax systems in the world,” writes Richard Stewart, Mayor of Coquitlam. “While property value has an effect on the taxes you pay, it doesn’t follow that your property tax will increase when your property value increases—property taxes are not calculated that way.”

How are they calculated, then? The process begins with determining the municipal budget, which must cover the costs of services such as police, fire, parks, roads, and more, taking into account inflation, increased regulation, and any new municipal responsibilities. These are the expenses against which the municipality must apply revenue—and this is where property tax comes in.

Property taxes are collected based on property value, but the actual amount collected is determined by the municipal budget and the resultant tax rate (also called a “mill rate”). “The tax rate, when multiplied by the total value of all the property in that class across the city, will equal the total revenue needed to be collected from that given class of property,” explains Stewart. This doesn’t mean that your property tax will automatically go up with property value.

With the City of Coquitlam as the example, read more about property tax calculations and the role of assessments in “Property Tax 101,” in the Summer 2016 issue of Input, page 29.

And if you’d rather defer payment of your property taxes—and you qualify—read author Michael Geller’s account of why and how one might choose this route in “The BC Property Tax Deferment Program,” page 37. More information is provided about the Province of BC’s program and its requirements on page 39.

Download Summer 2016

More information about the BC Property Tax Deferment Program

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