BC Assessment sent approximately 4,200 courtesy letters to South Surrey and White Rock property owners this month warning of substantial increases.
More than two dozen residents have contacted Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg’s office to question the accuracy of the latest property-value assessment, which was done before the implementation of a 15 per cent foreign-buyers tax.
White Rock homeowner Richard Boyer received his letter last week, advising that his property value has increased by approximately 60 per cent.
Boyer told Peace Arch News his assessment is inaccurate because it’s not factoring in the new foreign-buyers tax on Metro Vancouver real estate, which took effect Aug. 2.
BC Assessment’s uniform valuation date was July 1.
“What I’m saying is, they need to do another assessment, because this assessment is in July when the prices were at peak,” Boyer told PAN. “Right after they put the tax in… prices have gone down quite a bit. People are paying taxes on something that’s not there.
“This needs to be known what this actually means to people. In my case, this probably means $1,000 to $2,000 more in taxes. I’m on a fixed income now, I retired back in 2008. This is going to start hurting people on a fixed income.”
Hogg, however, said a sharp increase in property value does not automatically translate to more taxes.
BC Assessment released a preview of Metro Vancouver property assessments Dec. 6 and notes taxes are affected by assessment changes compared to the average change in your community.
“There are other variables, the other variable being what happened to everybody else’s assessment,” Hogg said.
Official assessments are expected be mailed to residents at the beginning of the new year. Property owners have until Jan. 31 to file an appeal.
Hogg’s constituents have contacted him by email, phone and in person, and “virtually all of them are going away thinking they’re going to appeal it.”
Brian Smith, BC Assessment spokesperson for Fraser Valley, responded to PAN’s questions by email, saying it’s too early for BC Assessment to speculate if there will be more appeals than the average two per cent per year.
Hogg, however, assumed that there would be more appeals than usual.
“Yeah, I would expect that there would be, given the change to the foreign-buyers taxation,” the MLA said.
“We have an example in our office. Somebody’s property was valued at $813,000, then went up to $868,000, and now it’s up to $1.5 million.”
The foreign-buyers tax is legislation aimed at addressing low vacancy rates and high real-estate prices in Metro Vancouver.
“Certainly, if you’re sitting at home and you’re seeing your assessed value jumping that much, you’re going to have some concerns,” Hogg said.
Boyer also raised his concern with the homeowner grant’s $1.2-million eligibility threshold.
“Bring it above $1.5 million or something. Majority of homes are above that ($1.2 million) now, except for condos and other things like that. Any detached home is going to be assessed at this new assessment over the ($1.2 million),” Boyer said.
B.C.’s Home Owner Grant reduces the amount of property tax paid on a principal residence.
Hogg said he has contacted the Ministry of Finance to discuss the grant but said he cannot comment on upcoming budgets because it affects the marketplace.
“One of the questions we’ve asked is whether or not they’re exploring a change to the threshold with respect to the homeowner’s grant,” he said.
Hogg said he put in the call to the ministry last week and was told the threshold may be revisited in the February budget.
BC Assessment’s website says increases of 30 to 50 per cent will be typical for single-family homes in Surrey, and typical strata residential increases will be in the 15 to 30 per cent range. Commercial and industrial properties throughout the Greater Vancouver area will also see increases in the 10 to 30 per cent range.