Under Toronto’s law, every property owner is supposed to pay their property taxes as billed. Property owners who fail to pay will be charged a 1.25% interest rate on the first day of default and the first day of each month that follows, as long as the taxes remain unpaid. However, if you feel that your property was not accurately assessed and that your tax obligations are higher than they should be, you have the option of appealing.
The Toronto Property Tax Appeal Process
If you own a property in Toronto, you are bound to periodically receive property assessment notices in the mail. This usually contains information about your property, like the size, legal description and the assessed value. Your property’s tax bill is normally calculated by multiplying its assessed value by the municipal or local tax rate. However, if you feel that your property’s assessment is higher than it ought to be, you can challenge it to have the tax bill reduced by following these steps:
1. Decide Whether That Appeal is Worth the Time and Effort
Before committing your time and effort to a tax appeal process, you may want to consider the stakes involved. For instance, if you know that the appeal will significantly reduce your tax bill, the reasons for the appeal are worthwhile and the chances of the appeal going through are high, then you should go ahead. And a qualified property tax consultant is able to analyze all these things and advise you accordingly.
2. Check Whether the Data About Your Property is Correct
It is also very important to confirm that all the information about your property is correct. For instance, you need to check whether the information about the lot size and the number of bedrooms, bathrooms or fireplaces is accurate. For example, if the assessor wrote the lot size as 3 acres instead of 0.3 acres, you are likely to be slapped with a huge tax bill that does not match your property. If these sorts of things are incorrect, you have enough reason to challenge the assessment.
3. Compare with Similar Properties
Before filing the appeal, it is advisable to compare your property with other similar properties. You can ask a qualified realtor to get you information on 3-5 comparable properties that were recently sold. You can also check online to find the values of properties that are similar in terms of style, size, condition and even location. Get their assessments and if they are lower, go ahead with the appeal. An appraiser can also help you with this.
4. Present Your Case
Once you have armed yourself with facts, contact the office of your local assessor. They can discuss the assessment informally and if you are not satisfied with their explanation, you can always request a formal review. Once the review is completed, you will be issued with a written decision, which you can always appeal before an independent appeal board if you are not satisfied.
In order to reduce your tax burden, you can also ask a property tax consultant whether you qualify for any tax exemptions, discounts or refunds. If you are in Toronto and the main question on your mind is ‘How do I lower my property tax burden?’ there are property tax consulting firms that can help you through the Toronto property tax appeal process.