FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
The following are questions frequently asked about the Property Assessment Appeal Board and its procedures. The responses provided are general in nature and are only intended to provide you with guidance through the appeal process and assistance with preparation for your appeal. The answers are not intended as advice about your specific situation. Each appeal is unique - the answers will not apply to every appeal.
If you find unfamiliar terms, please refer to the Assessment Terms.
LIST OF QUESTIONS
Filing an Appeal
29. How does my assessment relate to property taxes?
29. How does my assessment relate to property taxes?
FILING AN APPEAL
Anyone, including a corporation, may file an appeal to the Board, if dissatisfied with a decision of the Property Assessment Review Panel or with an omission or refusal by it to adjudicate a complaint.
You are not limited to appealing only the assessment of your property, but a complaint must first have been filed at the Review Panel before you can file an appeal with the Board.
For details on how to file an appeal, go to Information Sheet #2 – How to File an Appeal.
An appeal must be filed on or before April 30 following the appeal to the Property Assessment Review Panel.
If your appeal is sent by mail, it must be postmarked by Canada Post no later than April 30. If you send it by courier or deliver it personally, the appeal must be received at the Board’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. April 30. It is not sufficient to send your appeal to BC Assessment or to the Property Assessment Review Panel – that method does not meet the requirements of the Assessment Act.
If you miss the deadline due to technical problems with your fax or e-mail, the Board will not be able to consider the appeal. The Board does not have the power to extend this mandatory deadline. This principle has been upheld through numerous past Board decisions and by the Courts.
The fee is $30 for each roll number you are appealing. The roll number is on the assessment notice.
This fee must be paid when you submit your appeal. If you e-file your appeal through the Board’s website, you can pay electronically by credit card or mail a cheque. For the other methods of sending your appeal you must mail or deliver a cheque to the Board office.
If the fee is not paid by April 30th, the Board will send you a notice requiring you pay the fees by a certain date. If you do not comply, the Board will dismiss your appeal.
The Board cannot refund the appeal fees, even if you win the appeal or it is withdrawn or settled.
The Board will register your appeal, checking to ensure that all of the required information has been provided and the appropriate fee has been paid. If everything is in order, the Board will send you an acknowledgement, usually by the end of May or early June.
If necessary information is missing, or the appeal fee has not been paid, a notice of the deficiency will be sent to you and you will be required to correct it within a specified deadline.
If there is a question about the validity of your appeal (e.g. the appeal was not filed with the Board by April 30th or no complaint was made to the Property Assessment Review Panel) the Registrar will send you a written opinion on the appeal’s validity. If the Registrar’s opinion is that the appeal is not valid, you may request that the Board review the opinion (see Board Rule 10 and Information Sheet #3 - Invalid Appeals.)
Your appeal will be assigned to one of the Board’s appeal managers who will decide the next steps (see details under the Appeal Process FAQs.
Usually the first step will be a telephone Appeal Management Conference held with you, BC Assessment and the Board’s Appeal Manager. The purpose of this Conference is to attempt to resolve the appeal and, if not resolved, set the next formal steps. The Conference can be set as early as May, but could be later depending on the volume of appeals. For more complex appeals, the Board may conduct more than one Appeal Management Conference.
For information on what happens at an Appeal Management Conference, go to Information Sheet # 4 - Appeal Management Conference.
Sometimes the Board convenes a Settlement Conference where the parties participate in more intensive discussions in attempt to resolve or narrow the appeal issues (see Information Sheet #5 – Settlement Conferences for more information).
If the appeal is not resolved the Board will schedule a hearing (either through written submissions or an in-person hearing). The parties will be required to file, in advance of the hearing, all documents they want to use to support their case.
Finally, the Board member, who has been assigned to your appeal, will then issue a written decision with reasons. The Board’s goal is to issue decisions within 90 days of the hearing. Occasionally, it may take longer, especially for more complex appeals.
Call the Board’s office immediately, after receiving the Notice of the Conference and request a new time. Please be prepared to suggest alternative times and dates. The Board will review the Appeal Manager’s schedule and contact the other party in attempt to re-schedule. If re-scheduling is difficult, the Board may ask you to arrange for someone to take the call and speak on your behalf. Alternatively, even if you are not home or at your office, you may be able to take the Conference call on a cell phone or alternative number.
Please be aware an Appeal Management Conference is an important part of the appeal process and is usually required (not optional). The Notice of Appeal Management Conference is a Board Order. If a party does not participate as ordered, the Board may take action, which could include:
The short answer is “Yes”.
The Board’s Appeal Manager is assigned to manage your appeal and work with the parties to attempt resolution. Normally as a first step for most appeals, the Appeal Manager will have the Board’s office staff arrange a telephone Appeal Management Conference. If one has not been arranged or if you feel another Appeal Management Conference is necessary, then you may request one. Please, however, be patient at the beginning the appeal year (May to July). Due to the volume of appeals, the Board may not have a chance to contact you until mid-late summer for an Appeal Management Conference. Settlement Conferences are sometimes used in more complex appeals (not commonly used for residential appeals). The time and cost for Settlement Conferences can not usually be justified for less complex appeals. Costs include the parties’ and Board’s time, travel and sometimes facility costs (as these Conferences are held in-person). If you feel a Settlement Conference is of sufficient value in resolving your appeal, you can request the Board arrange one. Your Appeal Manager will likely seek input from the other party and advise you if one will be held.
WITHDRAWALS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
If you want to discontinue your appeal, you may write to the Board and request permission to withdraw it. You may use Form 4 – Withdrawal for your request. For additional information, go to Information Sheet #10 - Withdrawing an Appeal, and Board Rule 24.
The Board will advise the Assessor of your withdrawal request and the Assessor may contest your application. This may occur if the Assessor thinks that there is an error in the assessment (for example, the assessed value for the property is too low). If so, the Board will conduct an Appeal Management Conference to hear from both parties. The Board will then decide whether to allow the withdrawal or proceed with the appeal. In making this decision, the Board must keep in mind its discretionary power to reopen the whole question of a property’s assessment to ensure accuracy. If the Board is concerned that the current assessment is not correct, it may not allow you to withdraw the appeal.
If you are permitted to withdraw the appeal, the Board will issue a written order confirming the withdrawal. The values and classification currently on the assessment roll (as determined by the Property Assessment Review Panel) will be confirmed.
As the Assessment Act requires payment of the appeal fees to commence an appeal, the fees are not refundable, even if you withdraw. The Board does not have any discretion to refund the fees.
The agreement must be put in writing (a "recommendation"), signed by all parties and submitted to the Board. You can use Form 3 – Recommendation for Resolving an Appeal or a similar format and you must include reasons for the requested change to the assessment. In many cases, the recommendation will be prepared by the Assessor and sent to you for signature. If you agree, sign the form and return it to the Assessor, who will submit it to the Board.
The Board is not bound to accept a recommendation and reviews all recommendations for appropriateness. The reasons must be sufficient for the Board to conclude that the assessed value is inaccurate and should be changed as recommended. More detail about the recommendation may be required. If the Board is not satisfied, it may refuse the recommendation and arrange an Appeal Management Conference to determine the next steps (or proceed with a previously scheduled hearing).
For more information, go to Information Sheet #11 - Recommendations for Resolving an Appeal, and Board Rule 23.
No, the Assessment Act does not authorize the Board to refund appeal fees.
The appeal fee must be paid to commence your appeal and is not tied in any way to whether or not the appeal is resolved or withdrawn.
There are costs associated with administering and hearing appeals. Even when an appeal is withdrawn, shortly after it was commenced, the Board has incurred costs. The appeal fee represents only a small portion of the costs associated with administering an appeal.
PREPARING FOR A HEARING
The Board has posted Information Sheets and guides to assist you. You may want to refer to:
You may also review the Board's Rules of Practice and Procedure, however, the information is more technical than described in the above information sheets and guides. All this information is also available in hardcopy by contacting the Board’s office.
For information on your property you should call your local BC Assessment office and ask for a copy of the “physical inventory” of your property. This inventory sets out the Assessor’s understanding of the attributes of your property. You can also request a Property Valuation Summary which details the basics of how your property is assessed.
If you are appealing based on the equity or fairness of your assessment, you may want to obtain information on the assessments of other similar properties. You can contact your local BC Assessment office and request a print-out of the assessments and the attributes of other properties that are similar to yours. BC Assessment will provide information on four properties, free of charge. They will likely require a fee for additional print-outs.
The parties should resolve any information requests, directly between each other, without the Board’s involvement. If, however, you and BC Assessment can not agree on what information you should receive, you can contact the Board. In these situations, the Board will usually arrange an Appeal Management Conference to discuss the information request. If the Board agrees that the information request is reasonable and the information may be relevant to the appeal issues, it can order the Assessor to release the information to you.
The Board’s website or office can be a valuable source of this information.
On the Board’s website, you can search for and view Board decisions. Please note that most decisions prior to 1995 are not posted. You may be able to find hard copies of earlier decisions at the Board’s office.
If you are looking for decisions that deal with issues of interest to you, you can search by keyword (e.g. “contaminated”). This section of the website, instructs you how to conduct a search. You may also call the Board’s office for suggestions and assistance on how to find relevant decisions.
Supreme Court and Court of Appeal decisions are stored in the database of decisions at the British Columbia Superior Courts web page. To find a decision, click on "Search Judgement". You may search by year and by keyword or phrase. The site includes tips on how to search. If you wanted, for instance, to see if the Supreme Court had considered the question of "highest and best use of property", you would simply type that phase into the query box. Use quotation marks, so the search will look for the exact phrase, and show all decisions that include that phrase. If you want to narrow the search to return only those cases where highest and best use was considered in relation to strata apartments, your search might be for the words: "highest and best use" near apartment.
The Board office has copies of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal assessment decisions in binders, by stated case number. Each volume includes an alphabetical index showing the parties and the subject of the appeal. In addition there is a separate Index Volume listing decisions by subject and alphabetically by parties.
Often the easiest way to find the names of related court decisions is to view previous Board decisions on the same issue. The Board’s decisions sometimes reference (or cite) court decisions which the parties or the Board member has used to support arguments and decisions on issues.
The Board has posted certain pre-1996 court decisions that are frequently referred to at Board hearings.
While it is completely up to you how much you submit and how much preparation you do, the Board strongly recommends that the parties seek and submit specific evidence to support their position.
When the assessed value is being disputed, market evidence is usually critical to an appeal. The Board will make a decision based on the “best” evidence presented by the parties. In residential appeals, the best evidence is usually market-based evidence most relevant to your property. If an appeal goes to a hearing, usually BC Assessment will prepare an appraisal, based on sales evidence of comparable properties. The chances of “winning” an appeal, are much less if you do not provide detailed market evidence, whether that is a formal appraisal or other market based evidence.
If you are appealing a residential property, for more guidance, go to How to Prepare for a Single Family Residential Assessment Appeal.
For additional information on evidence for all appeals, go to
Prior to the hearing, you must submit to the Board and any other parties in the appeal (usually the Assessor), copies of all documents and reports that you may want to use to support your position. Documents may include expert reports (often appraisals), letters, photographs, maps, drawings, etc. If you want to refer to a document in a hearing or use it to support your case, you must produce it in advance of the hearing. The Board requires two copies of any documents or reports.
Usually in a telephone Appeal Management Conference, the Board will set the deadlines for submission of these documents. If the Board has not set deadlines, then you must submit these documents at least three weeks prior to the hearing.
Usually the Board will provide the parties with a second opportunity to provide documents. This second deadline is only for documents which you may want to use to contradict or disprove facts or opinions presented by the other party. The second deadline is NOT an opportunity for a party to present more documents to expand on their own case.
The purpose of exchanging documents in advance is to provide the parties with an opportunity to review the materials and prepare questions to ask at the hearing.
The Panel hearing the appeal may refuse to admit evidence or documents at the hearing if it is not produced in advance by the dates ordered by the Board.
Expert evidence is evidence that expresses an opinion, from someone who is qualified to give an opinion in a particular field. For example, the Board could accept, as an expert report, the appraisal report in which a qualified appraiser expresses an opinion on value.
An “expert” is someone who is qualified by education, training or experience in a particular subject, to give an opinion on that subject. Witnesses who are not “experts” may not be entitled to give opinions on matters outside common everyday experience. The Board frequently permits lay people to present personal opinions about the value of their own property. The Board may, however, place less reliance these opinions, especially if they are not backed up with good market evidence.
For additional information, go to Information Sheet #8 - Evidence in a Hearing.
The Board rarely permits a report to be filed at the hearing if it wasn’t produced in advance.
One option for the Board may be to grant an adjournment to permit the other party to review and prepare a response to the report. The Board could order the party who wants to file the report to pay any costs incurred by the Board and the other parties as a result of the adjournment. Those costs could include additional travel costs, staff costs, hearing room costs, and any other costs that would not have been incurred had the party filed the documents on time.
For additional information go to Introduction of Evidence at a Hearing.
If your witness is going to give expert opinion evidence but is not going to file a written report, you must provide the other parties and the Board, at least three weeks before the hearing, with a written statement describing:
It is completely up to you whether or not you hire a professional to assist you or represent you. You can certainly represent yourself if you so choose, as the Board’s hearings are not as formal as court proceedings. One of the main purposes of the Board’s website and Information Sheets is to assist you in preparing and understanding the appeal and hearing processes, so you can represent yourself – if you so choose.
The Board does not award “costs” to the winner of the appeal. Therefore you must cover any of your own costs to hire professionals or to have reports prepared.
In making your decision on whether or not you need assistance, you should keep in mind, the Board will make a decision based on the “best” evidence presented by the parties. In residential appeals, the best evidence is usually market-based evidence most relevant to your property.
For appeals on the assessed value, BC Assessment will usually have one of their accredited appraisers prepare an appraisal report. For some appeals, involving legal issues, BC Assessment may hire a lawyer to assist them. As with all parties, the Board does not dictate whether or not professional assistance is required or warranted.
Hearings may be conducted by way of written submissions or in-person.
In-person hearings, while not as formal as court proceedings, are reasonably formal and parties are expected to conduct themselves appropriately.
Written submission hearings involve both parties providing the Board and each other with all their evidence and argument in writing. Each party will have an opportunity to respond in writing to the submissions provided by the other party.
If a party thinks that the panel should not hear the other party’s evidence, or that a question being asked of them or their witness is not proper, that party may object. To do so, the party simply states that they have an objection at the time the evidence is being given or the question is being asked. The Board panel will ask the party the reason for the objection, and the other party will have a chance to respond. The hearing panel will decide on the objection and if it will permit the evidence to be submitted or require the question be answered.
A frequent basis of objection is relevance. Evidence, to be relevant, should help the panel decide the appeal. For example, evidence about the ability to pay property taxes is not relevant to the value of a property, nor would questions about the value of a rural property help in deciding the value of a property in downtown Vancouver.
For more information on the processes in a hearing, go to:
The Board uses the evidence it receives at a hearing to make decisions on disputed factual matters. These factual issues may include such questions as the correct size of the property being valued, whether the owner is actively involved in the day to day operations of a farm, or what is the actual or market value of the property.
Parties make submissions (sometimes referred to as "argument") to the Board to try and persuade it to come to favourable conclusions on a factual or legal issue. Submissions usually try to tie the favourable evidence to the party's preferred conclusion and disparage unfavourable evidence, or tie the evidence to the law ("as the facts prove X, the law requires that the Board do Y").
When the Board holds an in-person hearing, submissions are usually made orally. However, the Board may permit the parties to make written submissions, either instead of or in addition to the oral submissions. In some cases, the Board will order that the parties make submissions in writing.
If there is a time period when you will not be available, you should immediately advise the Board. Please quote your appeal number and indicate what days in the year you will not be available to attend. The Board will then attempt to accommodate your schedule when setting your hearing date. However, sometimes there is little flexibility and the Board will not be able to accommodate your schedule. If you cannot alter your schedule to attend the hearing, you may arrange to have an agent appear and present your case on your behalf.
You should immediately contact the Board by telephone, followed by a written request for an adjournment with a copy to the Assessor. Your written request should clearly explain the reason you are not available. The request should be made at least 14 days prior to the hearing.
The Board will consider the reasons for your request and the Assessor's position on the matter, and will advise you of its decision as quickly as possible. Once an appeal has been set for hearing, the Board will not usually grant an adjournment, unless there is good reason and it will not cause undue prejudice to the other parties. When the parties were consulted about hearing dates before the Board scheduled the hearing, there generally will not be a good reason for an adjournment except in extraordinary circumstances.
If your request is allowed, the Board may require you to pay any additional costs of the Board or other parties (such as any non-refundable room rental or travel costs) or set other appropriate conditions.
If the adjournment is denied, you still have two options. You can request a hearing by written submission or you can have an agent represent you at the hearing.
For more information, go to Information Sheet #9 – Adjournments.
You should contact the Board and the Assessor as soon as you learn you will not be attending the hearing. Depending on the circumstances and the amount of time before the hearing, other arrangements may be possible. See FAQ: What do I do if I can’t attend the hearing on the scheduled date? and Information Sheet #9 – Adjournments.
In most appeals, the Board will proceed without you, especially if you have not provided advance notice of not attending. The Board will hear evidence from the Assessor and will make its decision without re-scheduling the hearing. The Board will consider any documents you submitted before the hearing, however, you will not normally have another opportunity to make presentations to the Board.
If you failed to notify the Board that you would not attend, in certain circumstances, the Board may order you to pay any costs that were unnecessarily incurred by the Board and the Assessor. For example, any costs to make special arrangements to accommodate your schedule, or if the Assessor brought a special witness to reply to evidence you said you would be giving.
Yes. Anyone can attend the hearing and represent you. It does not need to be a professional (a lawyer or property tax agent). A friend or family member is fine, as long as they are familiar with your property and the reasons for your appeal and can give the evidence you want the Board to hear.
Yes, if the appeal is suitable for written submissions.
If the next steps have not already been set for your appeal, the Board will normally contact you for a telephone Appeal Management Conference. During this Conference, you can express your preference and we will discuss which is the best method (either an in-person hearing of hearing by way of written submissions). Most residential hearings are heard by way of written submissions.
If an in-person hearing has already been set, contact the Board as soon as possible. You will likely be required to make your request in writing and explain why hearing by written submission is preferable. If you do not provide sufficient notice prior to a scheduled in-person hearing, it is more likely the Board will not make a change.
The Board will review your appeal and your request, and may arrange an Appeal Management Conference to discuss it further. If the Board decides to hear the appeal by written submissions, it will set deadlines the parties to make their submissions (both evidence and documents and submissions or argument as to why the Board should decide in their favour).
For additional information, go to Information Sheet #6 - Hearings by Written Submission.
AFTER THE HEARING
All Board decisions are in writing, and will include reasons for the decision.
The Board targets issuing decisions within 90 days after a hearing. You may receive your decision earlier or later than 90 days, depending on the appeal load and complexity of your appeal.
Yes, you can appeal to the British Columbia Supreme Court, however, you can only appeal on a question of law. You cannot appeal the factual conclusions of the Board.
To proceed you must send a request to appeal to the Board (called a Requirement to State a Case) within 21 days of receiving the Board’s decision. You must include with this request the question(s) of law that you want the Supreme Court to answer. The Board strongly suggests that you obtain legal advice if you are considering requesting the Board file a Stated Case.
The following are general guidelines for when the Supreme Court might find that the Board erred in law and overturn its decision:
If the Court finds that the Board erred in law, it may return the appeal to the Board for reconsideration.
For more information, go to Information Sheet #13 - Stated Cases.
Most property taxation jurisdictions (e.g. cities, municipalities, and regional districts) establish a "mil rate" each year, for each class of property. The mil rate determines how many dollars in property tax will be levied for each thousand dollars of assessed value.
The Property Assessment Appeal Board has no control over the tax rates set by the property taxing authorities. The Board can only deal with whether or not the assessment is accurate. If the assessment is correct, the Board cannot help you resolve complaints on the amount of taxes payable.
The relationship between assessed value and property taxes is not necessarily direct. For example, if the values of all properties in a jurisdiction are rising at a similar rate, then there may be no resulting increase in a property’s taxes, providing the jurisdiction’s budget remains constant. Thus, a value increase for a property does not in itself necessarily result in any increase in taxes payable.
As the amount of tax paid is determined by the assessed value, a reduction in the assessed value may result in a decrease in the taxes. Likewise, a change in classification to a lower taxed class, or the allowance of an exemption may reduce property taxes.
If the mil rate is increased to meet the jurisdiction’s budgetary requirements, even if your assessed value stays the same or decreases, you may have to pay more in property taxes.
The Board welcomes complaints, comments and suggestions. This input can be a good opportunity for the Board to improve its rules, processes and organization.
The Board has set up simple steps for you to voice any concerns or suggestions. This process, however, is not intended or suitable for handling complaints about the Board’s decisions itself. If you are not satisfied with a written decision of the Board, your only avenue is to appeal to the Supreme Court of BC as detailed in Information Sheet #13 – Stated Cases and the FAQ: an I appeal the Board's decision?
To initiate a complaint or a suggestion, simply send a letter to the Board and provide details on your complaint, comment or suggestion. If you are concerned about a specific incident or conduct of a staff or Board member, please include the date, time, names of the persons involved and a summary of the incident and your concerns. Please include your contact information, including a daytime phone number, in case the Board has any follow up questions.
The Board will respond back to you in writing.
For more information, go to Information Sheet #15 - Complaints, Comments and Suggestions
The effect on your assessment will depend on when the damage occurred.
The Assessment Act states that property is to be valued based on its physical condition and use as of October 31 in the year in which the assessment was prepared. For example, the use and condition date for the 2005 assessment roll is October 31, 2004, since the 2005 roll was prepared in 2004.
If, for example, your house was destroyed by fire on November 1, 2004, it must be valued as it stood on October 31st, prior to the fire, for your 2005 assessment. Neither the Assessor nor the Board has discretion to make any allowances for a change in the physical condition or the use after October 31.
All Crown lands occupied under the terms of a lease or licence, or merely occupied with no formal agreement, are assessable in the name of the occupier. The term “land” also includes land covered by water (e.g. the area of land covered by water used for boat moorage, rafts, docks, floats, or piers).
Section 26 of the Assessment Act directs the Assessor to assess the occupied Crown land and improvements (e.g. cabins, docks, or piers) at the actual value. Because of the definition of “actual value” in the Act, the assessment must include the value of the full fee simple interest (i.e. the value of the property as if it was owned outright or free hold).
Frequently properties occupied under lease or licence sell in the market for less than their value on the assessment roll. This is generally because only the lease holder or licensee’s interest in the property is sold, not including the value of the Crown’s interest in the property. Such a sale represents the purchase of only a partial interest in the land, and does not represent the value of the property as if it were held in fee simple.