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Property Taxes 101

Former Village Accountant Steers Residents Through the Process


Property taxes, normally not the sexiest topic, garnered a little more attention at the June 20 council meeting when long-time Lions Bay resident Mary McLaughlin stepped to the podium during the public participation part of the evening.


McLaughlin worked for five years for Canada Revenue and has been an accountant since 1981. She was also employed by the Village from 2005 to 2008 as an accounting assistant.


As reported in the June 22 edition of Council in Focus, McLaughlin referred to the printed materials included with village tax notices, specifically a small blue box on the front page of the explainer.


This reads: "Overall taxation for the fiscal year 2023 has increased by approximately $262,000, driven by an average property value assessment increase of 8.1% over the prior year."


Except, according to McLaughlin, that's not exactly true.


"The only effect the assessed value has on taxation is at the individual property level," she told Council. "If someone’s assessed value goes up more than the average increase, then their taxes will go up more than their neighbours."


But can Lions Bay property taxes ever be driven by assessments?


"The amount of tax the Village collects can never be driven by the assessments," McLaughlin tells The Watershed. "Municipalities and other taxing entities collect the amount of tax the councils decide they need for each year. BC Assessment provides them with the total assessed value of all the properties subject to tax."


McLaughlin notes that the total assessed value is divided by Council’s tax requirements to establish the tax rate, which is then multiplied by the assessed value of each property to determine the amount of tax each property owner pays.


"On a practical level, it definitely happens that some properties go up relatively more than others because of recent sales in those neighbourhoods. Our own kids’ house down the road went dramatically up in value in 2022 because a fully renovated house across the street with an infinity pool sold for $4 million the summer before. They ended up paying more tax than we did."


McLaughlin can't really envision a scenario where Council might avoid raising taxes.

"If there were no inflationary pressure and future infrastructure had always been funded with foresight, I suppose taxes wouldn’t have to go up, but it doesn’t seem very likely," she says. "In general, I don’t think they decide on a certain percentage of increase. They put together a budget and it turns out to be a certain percentage more than the previous year."


As reported yesterday by The Watershed, Councillor Neville Abbott raised McLaughlin's concerns at the July 4 council meeting, and a decision was made to post a correction in an upcoming edition of the Village Update. But McLaughlin questions if Mayor Ken Berry really understands how the tax system actually works and if he believes the tax rate is beyond Council's control.


"I personally don’t have a huge problem with this year’s tax increase – inflation is happening and we need to fund operations and infrastructure," she says. However she is still concerned about the impression that may be left by the "misinformation" included with the tax notices.


McLaughlin did not take issue with any of the other information printed on the distributed material. Lions Bay residents are reminded that property taxes are due Friday, July 14.


As always, The Watershed welcomes your thoughts. We invite site members to comment below, or readers to email us at editor@lionsbaywatershed.ca




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Every year, we face the same questions and misinformation based on a lack of understanding concerning the issue of property taxes. Every year, the matter gets explained. Again.


Thanks to Mary McLaughlin and K.C. Dyer for their efforts to clear up the confusion.


( Note to Mary and K.C. - Please save your written work as it will be needed again in approximately 12 months!)

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July 6, from Mary Brown:

What an excellent, well written and explained article! Thank you both!

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