Unlike property transfer tax, which is a one-time cost when you close on a real estate purchase, property taxes are paid annually for as long as you own the property, even after you’ve paid off the mortgage. Property taxes help fund roads, schools, police and fire protection, parks and more. The amount you’ll pay in annual property taxes varies depending on the assessed value of your property and where you live. The Globe and Mail reports that The Real Property Association of Canada (REALpac) recently released findings from its 11th annual property tax survey. REALpac compared property tax rates for the major municipalities across Canada.
In Vancouver, for instance, the estimated residential property taxes per $1,000 of assessment was one of the lowest in the country: $3.68. So, theoretically, if your home’s assessed value was $500,000, you’d pay $1,840 in property taxes each year. In Regina, however, the estimated residential property taxes per $1,000 of assessment was much higher ($13.69), so a home with the same assessed value would cost nearly $7,000. (Average home prices in Regina are less than half of the average prices in Vancouver, though, so you might buy a less expensive property if you lived in Regina. The municipality might make up for lower assessed property values with a higher property tax rate.)
How to reduce your property tax bill
In British Columbia, your property taxes are based on the assessed value of your property on July 1 the previous year, and you’ll receive a tax notice in the mail. If you are a person with disabilities, a surviving spouse, 55 years or older or a parent/stepparent/guardian supporting a child, you may qualify for a low-interest loan to pay your property taxes.
If you don’t qualify for a loan or deferment, you may still qualify for the province’s Home Owner Grant. You will still pay a minimum of $350 in property taxes but the grant could reduce your taxes by up to $570 per year (more if you’re a senior, a veteran or a person with disabilities). To qualify for the B.C. Home Owner Grant, you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and be the registered owner or eligible occupant of the residence. The property must be your primary residence and have an assessed or partitioned value of $1,100,000 or less, so you cannot claim the grant on an investment property.
If you feel your property’s assessed value is too high, resulting in an inflated tax bill, you can file a complaint with the Property Assessment Review Panel to have them re-evaluate the assessment.