Property assessment is the evaluation of property for the purpose of fairly and equitably distributing a municipality’s total property tax burden amongst the property owners. Your property’s Assessment does not generate property taxes by itself.
Property taxes are generated when the Provincial (school) & Municipal tax rates are applied to the assessed value of your property. The municipal tax rate is based on the amount of revenue required for local programs and services.
All property assessments are prepared under direction of the Alberta Municipal Government Act (MGA), relevant Regulations and Minister’s Guidelines. These documents define property and classes, and provide the instructions and standards the Assessor is to use when preparing the assessment.
Property is defined under Part 9, Section 284(1) of the MGA as follows:
“…(r) “property” means
(i) a parcel of land,
(ii) an improvement, or
(iii) a parcel of land and the improvements to it;
An improvement may be anything added to a vacant parcel of land including buildings, gravel, paving, fencing, light poles, towers, etc. Improvements also include machinery and equipment used for manufacturing and processing and do not have to be physically attached to the parcel of land.
For property assessment purposes there are two ways of valuing property in Alberta:
1) Regulated – These properties are valued according to procedures and rates published by Alberta Municipal Affairs for the express purpose of assessing properties. Regulated properties include farmland, machinery & equipment, and Designated Industrial Property (discussed below).
2) Non-Regulated – These properties are valued at their estimated “market value”, and include residential, commercial, and industrial properties not categorized as regulated (i.e. residences, acreages, warehouses, railway gas stations, restaurants, agri-business such as fertilizer facilities, etc.).
Some properties, such as farm residences, have both regulated and non‑regulated components considered in their total assessment.
For Non-regulated property, the Assessor must determine an annual estimate of “market value” that is based on the “fee simple estate” as of July 1 of the assessment year. The assessment year is the year prior to the one in which a tax is imposed. For example, 2018 property taxes are based on the 2017 assessment year. For the 2018 taxation year, the “effective date” of the assessment is July 1, 2017. This value reflects the characteristics and physical condition of the land and improvements of the property is December 31, 2017 – this is known as the “condition date”.
Alberta Municipal Affairs audits every municipality’s assessment each year to ensure it meets the quality standards set out in the MGA, Regulations, and Minister’s Guidelines. Assessment Auditors examine the Assessor’s data submission and report back to the municipality upon completion.
In Alberta, prior to the modernized Municipal Government Act (MGA) coming into force in 2017, property assessment was primarily a municipal government responsibility. The exceptions to this were: those properties not subject to property assessment and Linear property (i.e. wells and pipelines, electric power generation and transmission, and some telecommunications equipment). Linear property assessments were completed by the Assessment Services Branch of Alberta Municipal Affairs.
Moving forward in 2018, the property assessment within each municipality in Alberta, is divided between the Municipal Assessor and the Provincial Assessor. The Municipal Assessor, as part of the MD of Taber Assessment Department, completes the annual assessment of residential, farmland, non-residential, machinery & equipment – those properties not classified as Designated Industrial Property (DIP).
DIP is defined under Part 9, Section 284(1) of the MGA as follows:
“…(f.01) “designated industrial property” means
(i) facilities regulated by the Alberta Energy Regulator, the Alberta Utilities Commission or the National Energy Board,
(ii) linear property,
(iii) property designated as a major plant by the regulations,
(iv) land and improvements in respect of a parcel of land where that parcel of land contains property described in sub clause (i) or (iii), and
(v) land and improvements in respect of land in which a leasehold interest is held where the land is not registered in a land titles office and contains property described in sub clause (i) or (iii);
The Provincial Assessor, as part of Alberta Municipal Affairs, is responsible for the property assessment of all Designated Industrial Property in Alberta. DIP includes all properties formerly defined as Linear Property, all petroleum production related properties, major plants as designated by Regulation/Minister’s Guideline (such as pulp mills, lumber mills, oil refineries, gas & petrochemical plants, etc.), and railway (including privately owned spur and rail lines).
What does an Assessor need to know about my Property to prepare the Assessment?
The MGA authorizes the Assessor the “Right to enter on and inspect property” so long as the owner/occupier has been notified and informed the purpose of inspection is to collect information to prepare an assessment of the property for taxation purposes. The Municipal District of Taber publishes “notification of property inspection” on this website and in its quarterly newsletters. An owner has a legal “Duty to provide information” to the Assessor upon request or he/she may be unable to make a complaint pertaining to that assessment.
To prepare an estimate of value the Assessor needs to know about your property. Information typically gathered on a property includes the type, size, age, improvement characteristics (e.g. heating type, plumbing fixtures, interior finish), and the determination of a “property class” based on the use of the improvement and/or property (e.g. residential, farm, commercial, industrial/manufacturing – a property may have be dual purpose, residential & industrial), etc.
Data collection may be in the form of a physical inspection, in-person or phone interview, by mail-in questionnaire or survey or using electronic data available through photos, land titles, etc. Your assessment is only as accurate as the information provided to, or gathered by the Assessor when requested. It is YOUR responsibility to contact your municipal office and check your property record to make sure the details are accurate.
Once the Assessor has gathered all the pertinent data on properties in the municipality he/she will “stratify” or categorize the properties into comparable groups according to their location, use, age, type, characteristics, etc. For example, properties used primarily for residential purposes are classed as Residential, and may be further “stratified” by sub-class such as Vacant or Improved. Further “stratification” may include groupings based on age and type, for instance One-Story, Two-Story, Bi-level, Split-level, etc. This is important to ensure that properties are valued fairly and equitably with other similar properties.
If you have recently purchased the property, the Assessor may request sale information to determine if it is an indication of typical market conditions (comparable). This may include asking: What the use of the property was at the time of sale? Was it serviced? Was it purchased from a family member or an inheritance? Was there any personal property (e.g. appliances) included? Have there been any changes to the property since the sale? Information related to properties that have sold is analyzed and then utilized to ensure that assessments are comparable to typical market values as indicated by recent sales.
How does the MD of Taber Calculate my Property Assessment?
Non‑Regulated (Market Value) Property
In Alberta, Non-Regulated properties are valued according to the Market Value standard set out in the MGA and Regulations. In appraisal and assessment theory there are three “approaches to valuation” when valuing real property. The MD of Taber Assessor primarily utilizes the Cost Approach and the Sales Comparison Approach in evaluating properties for assessment.
Regulated properties such as Farm land and Machinery & Equipment are valued using the appropriate procedures, tables and rates set out by the Provincial Government in Legislation relating to each property class and type of property. For further information on your property assessment calculation please contact an assessor at the Municipal District of Taber Administration Office.