Understanding Property Taxes: How They Work
Property tax can be a significant financial consideration for homeowners, yet its intricacies are often misunderstood. In this blog, we'll dive into the fundamentals of property taxes, shedding light on how they're calculated and what homeowners need to know about the assessment process.

The Basics: How Property Tax Works
Property tax is levied by local governments based on the perceived value of your real property, encompassing both the land and any buildings you own. At its core, property tax is calculated by tax assessors who estimate the fair market value of each property within a municipality. This valuation is typically determined as of July 1st of the preceding year.

Once the assessed values are established, the municipal government sets its budget for the year. This budget is then divided by the total assessed value of all properties within the municipality, yielding the mill rate. The mill rate represents the amount of tax payable per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Understanding Assessment and Appeals
While property owners may find themselves subject to property taxes, they also have the right to contest the assessed value of their property. It's essential to recognize that appeals typically focus on the property's assessed value rather than the tax itself.

Should a property owner believe that the assessed value is inaccurate or unfairly high, they can challenge the assessor's opinion. This process involves presenting evidence to demonstrate any discrepancies or errors in the assessment. However, once the assessed value is accepted, the calculation of property tax becomes automatic.

Determining Assessed Value
Tax assessors play a crucial role in determining the assessed value of properties for taxation purposes. These officials evaluate various factors to estimate what a property would sell for in the open market at a fair market price.

Contrary to popular belief, assessors don't physically inspect properties annually. Instead, they utilize market data and computer algorithms to conduct mass appraisals. This involves comparing properties within the same neighbourhood or town that have recently been sold. Additionally, assessors may receive information from other government departments, such as building permits for renovations or additions, which can influence the assessed value.

The timing of property appraisals varies across provinces and municipalities, with assessments often conducted periodically to reflect changing market conditions.

Navigating Property Assessment Appeals: What to Do If You Disagree with Your Evaluation
So, you've received your property assessment notice and found yourself in disagreement with the value placed on your property. What should you do next? Let's break down the steps to appealing your assessment and exploring potential tax relief programs.

Appealing Your Assessment
Merely believing your taxes are too high isn't sufficient grounds for lowering your assessment value. To successfully appeal, you'll need to provide evidence demonstrating errors in how your property was appraised. If you've followed the Assessment Appeal Checklist and still disagree with the assessor's opinion, you usually have the right to appeal to a higher authority independent of the assessment office.

It's important to note that appeals may not be resolved quickly due to potential backlogs in the system. Be prepared for some waiting time.

Potential Outcome: Increase in Assessment
There's always a risk when appealing that your assessment might be increased. However, statistics show that the odds are generally in your favour. According to a study conducted in one province, the majority of appeals resulted in reduced or unchanged assessments, with only a small percentage seeing increases. So, if you've done your homework and have a strong case, the chances of success are on your side.

Finding Your Property Assessment
Accessing your property assessment details is typically done online through your city's property assessment portal. You'll likely need your Roll Number, which is included on your property tax assessment notice.
- In Calgary, visit
- In Cochrane, check
- In Strathmore, visit
- In Airdrie, check
- In Okotoks, visit

Appeal Deadlines and Process
Annual assessment notices are typically mailed out in early January, kicking off a Customer Review Period (CRP) where you can arrange to discuss any disagreements with your assessment. Complaints submitted to the Assessment Review Board (ARB) will be heard by a panel of board members, and decisions will be notified within six weeks.

Remember, you have the right to apply for judicial review if you disagree with the ARB's decision. It's advisable to consult legal counsel if you're considering this route.

Navigating the assessment appeal process may seem daunting, but armed with the right information and resources, you can effectively address any discrepancies and explore avenues for relief. Don't hesitate to reach out to your local assessment office for guidance and support throughout the process.

More Information & How to Appeal Your Property Taxes
My brokerage, Royal LePage Benchmark, created a super detailed guide that outlines how the property tax process works in Calgary and surrounding areas, how it's calculated and assessed, how to appeal your property tax amount, the deadlines and due dates for appeals, etc. Check it out here.

If you have any questions about this information, feel free to reach out & let's chat.