To ensure property owners have a voice in the property assessment system, the Municipal Government Act has set out a complaints and appeals system for property owners who have concerns about their assessment. The Assessment Review Board consists of citizens that review appeals registered by Okotoks' residents against their annual assessment (the foundation for the establishment of taxes owing). The following information provides details on working with the Assessment Review Board to file an assessment complaint.
Assessment Review Board
Filing A Complaint
It is recommended that property owners contact an assessor to discuss any concerns they may have regarding their assessment. The assessor can provide information on how the assessment was prepared and help property owners determine whether their assessment is correct and equitable in relation to similar properties.
The assessor may also make corrections without a complaint being filed. If there is still disagreement after discussion with the assessor, property owners may file a complaint with the Assessment Review Board.
An assessment complaint does not exempt you from paying your taxes on time. To avoid late payment penalties, you must pay your taxes on or before the due date. If a complaint is successful, there will be an adjustment to the tax roll.
A complaint may be about any of the following items as shown on an assessment or tax notice:
- the description of a property or business
- school support
- an assessment class
- an assessment sub-class
- the type of property
- the type of improvement
- whether the property is assessable
- whether the property is exempt from taxation
Complaints may relate to any assessed property, but may not be made about any tax rate. Further, the Assessment Review Board has no jurisdiction to deal with a complaint about linear property.
A valid complaint must include reasons for the complaint. It is not sufficient to state only that the assessment is too high or that it may be incorrect. The complainant must:
- indicate what information shown on an assessment notice or tax notice is incorrect
- explain in what respect that information is incorrect
- indicate what the correct information is
- identify the requested assessed value, if the complaint relates to an assessment
- visit the Alberta Municipal Affairs Assessment Complaints and Appeals website
Provincial legislation and Town bylaws outline how complaints must be made:
- Your complaint must be submitted in writing via the Assessment Review Board Complaint form set out by the Government of Alberta.
- It is important to complete all fields on the complaint form that are relevant to your property, including:
- what information shown on the assessment notice is incorrect
- in what respect that information is incorrect, including identifying the specific issues related to the incorrect information that are to be decided by the Assessment Review Board and the grounds in support of these issues
- what the correct information is
- the requested assessed value, if the complaint relates to an assessment
- be sure to include a statement specifying the date and outcome of the discussion with the assessor including details of any issues or facts agreed to (if you have not discussed the matters of the complaint with an assessor, specify why a discussion was not held); you may attach additional information to the complaint form if the space provided is insufficient
- an Assessment Review Board must not hear any matter in support of an issue that is not identified on the complaint form
- you must include your mailing address
- should you have an agent file a complaint on your behalf, you must complete and sign the Assessment Complaints Agent Authorization form
- your complaint form must be accompanied by the appropriate filing fee or the complaint will be invalid
- incomplete forms, complaints submitted after the filing deadline or complaints without the required filing fee are invalid
- complaint forms and fees may be dropped off or postmarked, by the final date of complaint, at the Town of Okotoks, 5 Elizabeth Street, PO Box 20, Okotoks, AB T1S 1K1. Complaint forms can also be submitted online, and accompanying payment can be made over the phone by calling the Municipal Centre at 403-938-4404.
- For further complaint process information contact the Assessment Review Board Clerk.
Complaint fees for the assessment complaint process are as follows:
Residential: 3 or fewer dwellings and farm land under one roll number - $50 per complaint
Residential: 4 or more dwellings - $325 per complaint
Non-residential: $650 per complaint
Preparing for a Hearing
Once a complaint form and the required fee have been filed, on time and in compliance with all applicable requirements of the Municipal Government Act and MRAC regulation, the Assessment Review Board clerk will arrange a hearing. Complainants will receive written notice advising of the date, time and location of the hearing, as will the municipality and any other assessed person who is affected by the complaint. The notice will also outline any deadlines to submit sufficient evidence to support the complaint.
The following will assist complainants in preparing evidence and presenting their case:
- appraisals or assessment of similar properties located in the neighbourhood
- repair estimates from a reputable contractor for physical problems (e.g., foundation is cracked, roof leaks, etc.); keep in mind that not every defect will lower the value of a property
- estimates of the property's value in the current market from a professional appraiser, assessor or realtor
- sales data on similar properties (size, age, location) that sold close to July 1 of the previous year
- in presenting comparisons between the property and similar properties, compare features such as number and size of bathrooms, basement (finished or unfinished), fireplaces, garage/carports, outbuildings, repairs and environmental problems
- for condominium units, compare features such as the floor the unit is on, view, corner, inside or end unit, floor plan, parking, elevators and building services
- in presenting comparisons between a business and other businesses in similar premises, describe the square footage, net rent, location, age and quality of the buildings where the businesses are located
- photographs of the property or business and comparable properties provide valuable support for a verbal description
- maps are helpful to locate properties used in comparisons
- if possible, create a comparison chart
- complainants may hire a representative for the hearing (e.g. a tax agent or lawyer) or may bring a friend, witness, or family member to assist the presentation; a letter of authorization must be completed prior to the hearing, for those acting as an agent representative
Even after filing a complaint, property owners may be able to resolve their concerns about their assessment without the need for a hearing. The assessor may change an assessment and issue a new notice if they agree that the original notice is not accurate.
Following filing a complaint with the Assessment Review Board, property owners may withdraw for whatever reason in the period leading up to their hearing date. We request that we receive the withdrawal in writing, and submitted to the Board Clerk of the Assessment Review Board.
The Board schedules hearings as required and in accordance with the Municipal Government Act. Property owners who have properly filed a complaint will be advised as to the date and time of their hearing. Hearings are open to the public.
Postponement of Hearings
Postponements will only be granted for exceptional circumstances and must be requested in writing to the clerk of the Assessment Review Board well in advance of the scheduled hearing. A written response will be sent indicating whether the request was granted or denied. Requests for postponement when the disclosure is due or on the hearing day will not be granted.
Disclosure and Submission of Evidence
Prior to a hearing before the Assessment Review Board, all evidence must be submitted to the clerk of the Assessment Review Board and exchanged, in its entirety, by both the complainant and the assessor. This helps the hearing to proceed fairly and without unnecessary delays.
By sharing information, both the complainant and the assessor will have a better understanding of how the case should be presented to the Board. It also provides another opportunity for the issue to be resolved before the hearing. No evidence is seen by the Board prior to the hearing.
Failure to comply with the legislative process may result in a complaint being deemed invalid.
For a complaint about an assessment to be heard by a Local Assessment Review Board: Once the date of a hearing has been set, complainants need to be aware of the following critical dates:
- complainant (property owner) must provide full disclosure at least 21 days before the scheduled hearing date
- respondent (Town of Okotoks) must provide full disclosure at least 7 days before the scheduled hearing date
- complainant must provide rebuttal at least 3 days before the scheduled hearing date
For a complaint about an assessment to be heard by a Composite Assessment Review Board:
- complainant (property owner) must provide full disclosure at least 42 days before the scheduled hearing date
- respondent (Town of Okotoks) must provide full disclosure at least 14 days before the scheduled hearing date
- complainant must provide rebuttal at least 7 days before the scheduled hearing date
For a complaint about any matter other than an assessment, the parties must provide full disclosure at least 7 days before the scheduled hearing date. An example of a non-assessment matter would be the name or mailing address of an assessed person or taxpayer being incorrect.
Complainants are obligated to provide the assessor with the information that will be presented at the hearing. This is referred to as "disclosure." Disclosure must include:
- all relevant facts supporting the matters of complaint described on this complaint form
- all documentary evidence to be presented at the hearing
- a list of witnesses who will give evidence at the hearing
- a summary of testimonial evidence
- the legislative grounds and reason for the complaint
- relevant case law and any other information that the complainant considers relevant
All evidence should be submitted to:
Clerk of the Assessment Review Board
Town of Okotoks
5 Elizabeth Street, PO Box 20
Okotoks AB T1S 1K1