How to minimize your property taxes

Sometimes you can fight City Hall and win, but only if you do your homework. That scenario is especially true when it comes to receiving your property tax assessment, which tells you how much tax you’ll be owing the city in a given year. If you have reason to believe that the assessment is higher than you expected it to be, you may have grounds to appeal and if successful, save up to hundreds of dollars that would otherwise have left your pocket.

First, you need to understand how homes are assessed. In Calgary, the city assesses your property each year effective on the July 1 date of valuation. The figure on your notice is based on your property’s estimated market value (or how much it would have been worth to sell) exactly a year ago. It also takes into account any changes in the real estate market since then and the condition of your property six months later on Dec. 31. The process is much the same across Canada, although valuation periods may be different. In Toronto, for example, the valuation date is Jan. 1.

Other contributing factors going into a valuation include renovations, quality and age of the home, type of structure and proximity to heavy traffic areas and various community services. Those are a lot of variables to consider, some of which may distort the assessment value of your home.

If you have reason to believe that the assessment is too high, contact the city during the 60-day customer review period outlined on your notice for additional information on appealing. Some concerned citizens also hire appraisal experts, although this is one appeal most homeowners can easily handle.

One of the easiest ways to appeal is to contact a Realtor to provide information on the value of homes sold in your neighborhood the previous year. The Realtor will take into account homes similar to yours in appearance and value and consider such factors as square footage (within 100 sq. ft.), type of dwelling (bungalow, two-storey, condominium, etc.) and property size. You’ll then be provided with profiles of similar dwellings to strengthen the legitimacy of your appeal. Submit your documents to the city and within weeks, a reappraisal should arrive in the mail.

You can also visit online to check information about your neighborhood and follow up by contacting the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation ( and request a comparable properties report on the assessed values of six similar homes in your area (If you need more than six, be prepared to pay a fee.).

Be prepared to back up your appeal with a copy of your home appraisal from your lender and information from your Realtor. Finally, go back to, download the request for consideration form online, fill it out and take all your evidence to the city. The more thorough you are with your appeal, the greater the chances your property taxes will come down.

For advice on buying, selling and other items related to residential and commercial properties, contact a Realtor at 403-444-9198.

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