Business side: Property assessments

CONVERSATIONS WITH BUSINESS EXPERTS

Rose McLean, President and Chief Administrative Officer, Municipal Property Assessment Corporation

(J.M) WHAT DO ONTARIO FARMERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE 2016 PROPERTY ASSESSMENT NOTICES?

(R.M.) Farm property assessments as of January 1, 2016 will be mailed out beginning October 11. In compliance with regulations under the Assessment Act, MPAC is responsible for assessing property values every four years. This year, MPAC is assessing five million properties, including 230,000 farms in Ontario.

HOW ARE FARM PROPERTIES ASSESSED?
The updated assessment notice reflects what’s happening in the market — as of January 1, 2016.

MPAC looks at farm sales in each respective area, some as far back as eight years. We only consider farmer to farmer sales in our assessments. Farms sold for development or to foreign investors are not included in the comparative values. MPAC has researched and consulted with third parties to validate farmland value trends. The change in farm values is aligned with market trends reported by organizations such as Farm Credit Canada.

It is key that MPAC delivers assessments that are fair and accurate. Farm assessment values have gone up substantially since the last assessment in 2012, but it’s important to remember that increased values don’t mean a corresponding increase in property taxes. The municipality sets the property tax rate.

WHAT IF FARM PROPERTY OWNERS DON’T AGREE WITH THE UPDATED ASSESSMENT VALUE?
After reviewing individual assessment notices, I encourage every farm property owner to visit aboutmyproperty.ca for more information about their assessments. Individual login information is printed on the front of the assessment notice. The enhanced site provides property owners with a detailed report of how their farm was assessed, including residential, outbuilding, and land values. By logging onto the site, property owners can also review related farm property values to compare their assessments.

I also encourage farmers to ask themselves “Could I have sold my farm for this amount on January 1, 2016?” If the answer is no, property owners can submit a Request for Reconsideration by filing online or mailing MPAC directly. The process is free, but requests must be submitted before the deadline printed on each assessment notice. MPAC will review the assessment and deliver the results to the property owner — this process can take up to 180 days. If property owners are still concerned with the assessment they can appeal to the Assessment Review Board (elto.gov.on.ca), an independent tribunal that has no affiliation with MPAC.

DOES MPAC HAVE A ROLE IN SETTING PROPERTY TAX RATES?
No, MPAC’s job is to put values on property. Tax rates are determined by municipalities to cover the cost of services like fire departments, police, garbage disposal, road maintenance, etc. Property tax allocations are based on the value of the properties as assessed by MPAC.

For more information visit mpac.ca. •