Land Tax Assessment

Did You Know . . . Property taxes in Athabasca are based on the Alberta model of property assessment and taxation, using the Market Value based standard since 1995 when the new Municipal Government Act came into force.

Property Assessment and Taxation in Athabasca

Property taxes in Athabasca are based on the Alberta model of property assessment and taxation, using the Market Value based standard since 1995 when the new Municipal Government Act came into force.

The Guide to Property Assessment and Taxation in Alberta describes Market Value as being the price a property might reasonably be expected to sell for if sold to a willing buyer after appropriate time and exposure in an open market.

“For most properties in Athabasca the assessment is an estimate of the market value from the previous year, on July 1st,” notes Ian Ferguson, assessor with Municipal Assessment Services Group and the assessor for property in the Town of Athabasca.

Assessors select the valuation method to be used and they collect a variety of information to help calculate an assessment. This information is particularly important to Ian because he uses the “sales comparison approach” to determine the market value of a property. This approach is where the selling prices of properties similar to the property being assessed are compared and a median value is determined.

“I maintain an inventory of data on Athabasca properties,” explains Ian, “including year of the building, square footage, type of construction and size of the land.”

He also receives information from Alberta Land Titles with all Athabasca land transactions that occurred during the course of the year. Additionally, he receives copies of all building permits and he does a physical inspection on a percentage of Athabasca properties each year.

Government guidelines require that Ian uploads his information to the Province of Alberta each year so his property assessments can be tested for accuracy.

“I have to be within five per cent of the value range,” he says.

Ian breaks out residential value ranges into three main categories: vacant residential; multi-family (condominiums); and single family. The single family category is further separated into lower price range properties and higher price range properties.

Vacant residential and single family properties are compared to similar properties over the past year. Two-year comparisons are applied to multi-family properties due to the turnover typically being less frequent in this category.

When Ian assesses properties in Athabasca, he does value comparisons based on the geographical area in town. This is convenient and effective because of how the neighbourhoods are divided into areas.

In contrast, when the Province tests his assessment values, rather than by geographical area, he is tested on the categories: vacant residential, multi-family and single family. Ian sees that as a good cross-check for accuracy.

“It’s a way of checking the value ranges and assessments by looking at them in different ways,” he says. “I want to make an assessment as accurate to the market value for a typical property as I can.”

He notes that there can always be exceptions and when one turns up, there is usually a valid reason for it.

The Guide to Property Assessment and Taxation in Alberta provides detailed information on the purpose and processes of assessment and taxation. A link to the guide can also be found on the Town website.

Town Tax Notice and Appeal Process

The Alberta taxation guide notes that property taxes are a primary source of revenue for municipalities, as these taxes are used to finance local programs and services.

Property assessment is the method used to distribute the tax burden among property owners in a municipality and it is the municipality’s responsibility to ensure that each property owner pays his or her share of taxes.

Tax and assessment notices are sent to property owners in the Town of Athabasca in May of each year. The due date for payment of taxes is June 30.

Qualifying property owners may be interested in the tax installment plan offered by the Town. Details are available on the Town website and at the Town Office.

The tax rate for properties is listed on the tax notice along with the assessed value of the property. The tax rate is set by Town Council on an annual basis.

Property owners who want to appeal their assessment can submit a complaint to the Assessment Review Board using the form available at the Town Office or on the Town website. The link to the form can be found on the Town of Athabasca Tax Process page.

There are fees for filing an assessment and the appropriate fee must accompany the complaint form when submitted. The fee will be refunded if the appeal is successful.

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