After a pause during COVID, property assessment notices are in the mail. Here’s what it means if you receive one

Photo courtesy Municipal Property Assessment Corporation via Facebook

While they’re definitely less exciting than Christmas cards, you may be receiving a property assessment notice soon.

Last month, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), which oversees the appraisal of approximately 5.5 million properties across Ontario, mailed 713,000 property assessment notices.

The notices are sent to property owners, including cottagers, to indicate changes to a property. “Ontario is constantly growing, and our property landscape changes each year. For example, on average, 10 per cent of the province’s homes sell each year. At MPAC, our team of property market experts work continuously to maintain Ontario’s property database through the updating of records and the timely assessment of new construction, additions, and renovations,” said Nicole McNeill, the president and the CAO of MPAC, in a statement. “These Property Assessment Notices reflect changes to properties and property ownership that were made in 2023.”

Nearly half of the notices MPAC mailed were due to updates in property ownership. This could be through the sale or inheritance of a property, or even just an owner’s name change. The next most common reason for a notice was if a property’s assessed value was updated, typically through construction, renovations, or additional buildings.

Other reasons you might receive a notice include:

  • A new property
  • A change to the tax classification, which may be due to the change in use of a property
  • A change in tax liability
  • An update to mailing address
  • An update to lot dimensions
  • An update to legal description
  • An update to property location
  • An update to school support
  • An update to occupancy
  • An update to taxable tenant(s)

If you receive a notice, it will list the assessed value of your property. To calculate this value, MPAC analyzes the sales of similar properties in your area while also looking at the age of the buildings on your property, the total square footage of the living area, the location of your property, the size of your lot, and the quality of construction.

This assessed value is used by your local government to calculate your property tax. Previously, MPAC sent out updated property assessments every four years. But in 2020, the Ontario government paused its property evaluations, extending the current cycle until 2024 due to Covid. This means MPAC is still sending out annual notices to owners about property changes, but it’s using its 2016 assessment as the base value for all Ontario properties. So, if you renovated your cottage in 2023, MPAC would still calculate its updated value based on what the property was worth in 2016.

There is some concern from property owners that once the assessments are updated to current real estate values, property taxes will skyrocket. But this shouldn’t be the case. When your property value goes up, you have to pay a larger percentage of the total amount needed to fund municipal services. But since everyone’s property value should increase during the next assessment, you shouldn’t have to pay a larger portion.

If you do receive a notice and disagree with MPAC’s assessment, you can file a Request for Reconsideration (RfR), prompting MPAC to review your assessment. The deadline to file a RfR for the 2024 property tax year is April 2, 2024.

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