Property owners across Ontario should have received notices of their property’s new assessed value from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (“MPAC”). Subject to changes that may be made by MPAC in certain limited circumstances, the 2012 assessment will form the basis of all property taxes for the next four years, ending in 2016. Accordingly, it is very important to look closely at the value that has been assessed and request a reconsideration of that value, or appeal it, if there is reason to believe that it may be too high or in a wrong tax class.

March 31, 2013 is the deadline for appeals in respect of the 2012 assessment. The March 31st deadline is applicable to all appeals made to the Assessment Review Board (the “ARB”), which is an independent tribunal of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. However, certain property classes (described below) must submit a “Request for Reconsideration” (“RFR”) before an appeal can be filed with the ARB.

Request For Reconsideration

Properties that have been classified by MPAC, as residential, farm or managed properties must submit an RFR using the requisite form (PDF), before an appeal can be filed with the ARB. This includes properties where only a portion of the property is residential, farm or managed. The RFR is free to file and the online form contains instructions. The deadline to submit an RFR is April 2, 2013.

The reconsideration and appeal deadlines are set by statute and cannot be extended by MPAC. If a property owner is not satisfied with the outcome of the RFR, they can still appeal their assessment to the ARB. Those appeals must be filed within 90 days after the notice of the outcome of their RFR is mailed by MPAC.

Assessment Appeals

Owners of commercial, industrial and multi-unit residential properties do not need to submit an RFR before appealing their property taxes. That is, filing an RFR is an optional step for owners of properties in these classes; they can file an RFR prior to appealing their assessment or appeal directly to the ARB. Whether or not an RFR is filed, the deadline for ARB appeals for these owners is still March 31, 2013. Therefore owners of commercial, industrial and multi-residential properties must carefully assess the appropriate appeal route, in light of their circumstances, and act accordingly.

More information about appeals, including forms, fees and how to file an appeal, can be found online at http://www.arb.gov.on.ca/.

How We Can Help

There are a number of reasons why property owners may wish to consult legal counsel, either before or after filing an appeal. Generally, property owners should keep the following in mind:

  1. Filing An Appeal - As noted above, owners of commercial, industrial and multi-unit properties will need to decide whether an RFR should be filed along with an appeal. We can assist with that analysis and help to ensure that appeal documentation is effective and complete.
  2. Capping and Clawback - Many business properties are still affected by provincial legislation that has capped their tax liability or created clawbacks in the event of a tax reduction. Because of capping and clawbacks, appeals do not always yield the desired benefit and it is important to do an analysis before proceeding with a hearing at the ARB. We generally recommend that an appeal is filed to preserve your opportunity to determine how capping and/or clawback impacts your property. We lawyers can help with that analysis (and potentially engage paralegals/consultants to assist in doing so) and determine whether it is in your interest to continue resolve your appeal.
  3. Hearings before the ARB - The ARB is a formal “court-like” tribunal with specific rules of evidence. For example, MPAC has the onus of proving the accuracy of an assessed value but any remaining grounds of appeal must be proven by the appellant. We understand the various grounds of appeal and what is required to discharge the appellant’s burden of proof.