MPAC And Taxation
Property taxes are based on the value of the property. The tax is determined by multiplying the “mil rate (set by the municipality) with the property value to generate sufficient revenues to pay for the municipality’s costs. Until just a few years ago, the property value was based on what the property had sold for in the year that it was sold. This led to may inequities as properties that had not been sold for many years paid substantially less taxes than a property that had been sold recently. The Ontario government created an agency called MPAC to assess the value of all properties, which would lead to a more equitable tax system based on “fair market value”. The system has not gone without problems and controversy.
What Is MPAC
The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) is a not-for-profit corporation funded by all Ontario municipalities. It is responsible for determining the Current Value Assessment (CVA) and the tax class for all properties in Ontario for purposes of municipal and educational taxation. MPAC also identifies candidates for provincial jury lists and, once every three years, determines the population of all municipalities and prepares the preliminary list of municipal and school board electors.
Originally Posted: 9/30/2004
The Assessment Act requires that the assessed value of your property be based on what today’s property would likely sell for on a specific date. Local property sales occurring around that date provide a basis as to the assessed value of similar, unsold properties. MPAC continually collects information about properties to ensure that those with similar features (age, size, location, construction, etc.) have similar but not necessarily identical assessed values.
Many cottages in the Upper French River area are handed down from generation to generation. Because so few cottages are sold each year, it is very difficult to determine the selling price of a property in this area. Therefore cottage comparisons may not be of waterfront cottages on the Upper French River but may be of properties on other lakes in other regions. If you get to the stage of looking at comparable properties, note the locations of the comparables that are provided.
Originally posted: 9/30/2004
See Your Assessment
Every cottager can look up their property assessment on-line at http://www.mpac.ca/pages_english/products_services/aboutmyproperty.asp
Through AboutMyProperty™ all property owners have access to their assessment roll information (e.g. current value assessment, legal description, lot size etc.) and assessment roll values on comparable properties of their choice. Residential property owners will be able to review enhanced property details such as year built, square footage, site area, legal description, current value assessment, etc.
To use this service you must first register with AboutMyProperty™. Your User ID and password are located on the bottom right-hand corner of your Property Assessment Notice. If you own more than one property, each property will have its own unique User ID and password.
Once registered you will have access to the following information free of charge, for each property that you own:
Property Profile Report (1)
Property Detail Snapshots (100)
Properties of Interest Report (24)
For additional reports, Assessment Roll Look Ups, as well as answers to your most popular questions, see the AboutMyProperty web site above.
MY COTTAGE IS WORTH HOW MUCH?
Updated March 19, 2009, Dave Minden
In the last newsletter we forgot to remind all cottagers that March 31, 2009, is the deadline for filing your Notice of Reconsideration for your property tax assessments. Fellow cottager and UFRCA member John Boykin highly recommends this process, which can be done on-line. His personal research indicates that only a few did so last time but that most were successful in getting some reduction.
The October 2008 issue of Cottage Life magazine features the article My Cottage Is Worth How Much?
, and it is recommended reading. For those who cannot access the article in its entirety, here is a synopsis.
The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) will be releasing updated property assessments this fall, and the mail-out is planned for a 10 to 12 week period starting early to mid-September. Yours may be in the mail right now.
There have been several key changes since the last assessment.
1. The assessment you receive this fall will be in effect for 4 years
, not 1 year as was the case previously (and before the process was suspended a few years ago). Furthermore, any increase will be spread over the 4 years. For example, say your property assessment has increased by 48%. This increase will be averaged over the next 4 years, resulting in a 12% increase in assessment each year until the next MPAC assessment in 2012. Remember that it is the municipality (in our case West Nipissing) that sets the mill rate that is multiplied by your assessment that results in the amount of property tax that you pay. So to continue the example, an increase in assessment of 12% every year for 4 years, would not necessarily result in a property tax increase of the same amount. It could be less, or it could be more.
2. For the appeal process, if you are not satisfied with your new assessment, you must first file a “request for reconsideration”.
Call 1-866-296-6722 for the form or download it from the MPAC website www.mpac.ca
. The request for reconsideration must be filed by March 31, 2009. You must file this request before you are allowed to appeal your assessment. If you are not satisfied with the result of the request for reconsideration and wish to pursue this to the appeal stage, your case will be heard by the Assessment Review Board (ARB), and there have been changes made to this process as well. For example, MPAC must establish why its assessment is correct and must share fully the information (such as comparables) seven days before the hearing. At the hearing, MPAC will present its case first, and then the complainant presents evidence to refute MPAC’s case.
3. You may register on the MPAC website
to access information about your cottage property in “About My Property”. You can access a detailed profile report on your property, plus those of your neighbours for comparison, and you can see the selling prices of those properties that have changed hands since last assessed. Note any errors; these can be corrected by phone until the end of November
Cottage Life is available at most newsstands where magazines are sold. Or contact Cottage Life at email@example.com or write to Cottage Life, Box 737, Markham, ON CANADA L3P 8A6, 1-800-465-6183
What Do I Get For My Tax Dollars?
One of the most contentious issues for cottagers is taxes. The Upper French River is unique because the River is divided between two different municipalities. If you look at a topographic map or road map that shows municipal boundaries, you will see a line running down the length of the river. North of the line is Nipissing District. South of the line is Parry Sound District.
The cottages on the south shore of the Upper French River are in either Patterson Township or Hardy Township, both of which are in Parry Sound District and are “unorganized” townships. These cottagers pay education taxes and a Provincial Land Tax.
The cottages north of the line are in Bertram Township. Prior to 1996, Bertram Township was an “unorganized” township and cottagers did not pay for any local services or education taxes. They did pay the small Ontario Provincial Land Tax. The amalgamation of Bertram Township with Sturgeon Falls and surrounding areas created the Municipality of West Nipissing. It is now designated as an “organized” township. As a result, cottagers in West Nipissing have seen their taxes increase dramatically (100-fold) since amalgamation and now pay both property and education taxes to the Municipality of West Nipissing.
Zoned as "rural residential", our property tax rates are similar to any rural property in the area despite the fact that services are minimal. Our taxes go into “general revenue”, which then pays for all services within the municipality. Bertram Township has no roads other than the Dokis Road, no schools, no local fire department, no police station, no township office, no sport facility, no library, etc. It is a remote township that has relied on the O.P.P. in the past.
Taxes collected from Bertram Township now pay for and maintain:
the local roads in Sturgeon Falls and West Nipissing that cottagers use to get to the local access points or when using the roads for pleasure or business
the Dokis Reserve Road (up to the bridge and the start of the Dokis First Nation)
West Nipissing Police Services (year-round policing, tagging cottages etc.)
West Nipissing Fire Department (who respond to French River fires as well as conduct investigations, although they do not posess their own boat.)
West Nipissing Hospital and Health clinics
the 911 address and telephone systems
the West Nipissing Library and related services
Municipal employee salaries and all departments in the Municipality of West Nipissing
With the downsizing from the provincial government to the municipal government over the last decade, and a lack of a revenue source outside of property taxes, many municipalities have had to struggle to adjust to the overwhelming cost of amalgamation. While these are all services that we may have taken for granted in the past (e.g. roads), most never had to pay for them before 1996, and the reality is that our French River taxes now help pay for them.
The UFRCA is dedicated to ensuring that we have reasonable tax representation, and that taxes remain one of our highest priorities. We will continue to work hard on your behalf to ensure that our taxes be balanced and fair. We will also work to help you understand all the issues and what your taxes include, why they go up, and how we can work with the municipality to ensure fair value and representation.