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It’s a warning of higher property taxes to come in the form of notices from the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) of the new assessed value of your home. This value is used to set your property taxes.
Every four years MPAC updates the value of five million residential and commercial properties in Ontario. The changes are largely based on the information recorded when properties are sold. As we all know, prices have headed nowhere but up.
But don’t despair. If you don’t think the assessment is fair, or believe the new value is out of line with your neighbour’s house, you can ask for a reconsideration. It’s free. If you’re still not happy you can formally appeal, which will cost $ 125.
Should you bother? It’s certainly worth thinking about. MPAC’s chief operating officer Rose McLean says about half of requests for reconsideration give homeowners some relief. Those are pretty good odds.
Here are some answers to common questions abut the process:
What is MPAC?
MPAC is the largest property value assessor in North America. It is a non-profit corporation funded by Ontario municipalities.
Every four years the Ontario government requires MPAC to update the value of properties in the province. The values are used by local municipalities to determine your property taxes. Any changes are phased in over the next four years.
My assessed value rose 25 per cent. Will my taxes rise that much?
For example, the new assessed value on my 1,900-square foot home in Oakville, built in 1950, is 26 per cent higher than 2012. The Oakville average — like Toronto’s — is 30 per cent. (The provincial average is 18 per cent.) I would expect a slightly smaller than average increase.
Related: Toronto property values soaring
How does MPAC determine value?
Location is most important. For example, a backyard that faces a power line corridor will be assessed at a lower rate than a similar house nearby that backs onto a park. One closer to a school, maybe a little more.
How can I appeal?
You must launch an appeal within 120 days of the date the notice was issued.
You need your property roll number and the access key found on the assessment form that came in the mail. You can compare the assessments and key features of houses in your neighbourhood.
Use this information to make your case. If your request for reconsideration is turned down, you can formally appeal.
What is MPAC looking for?
MPAC acknowledges that its information may not be complete. Homeowners may have done additions, or renovations without permits. Original details, or selling prices, may have been incorrectly entered or missed.
How many people appeal?
How many are successful?
About half. Of those turned down, a very small portion go to the next level, McLean says.
If I lose can MPAC increase my assessment?
Given the high odds of a favourable result, it may be time well-spent to take a look at how your property stacks up. It seems to be a rare example of how the average citizen can take on city hall and win.
More columns by Adam MayersEND