EDITORIAL: Bearing the tax burden

Budgets are determined by considering the amount of money a municipal government will need

Each year as the new year begins, BC Assessment sends out its property assessments, based on property values as of July 1 of the previous year.

And each year, there are complaints about the effect of the new assessment values on property taxes. BC Assessment even has a sophisticated system prepared to process the flood of appeals they expect each year.

The reason for concern on the part of many homeowners is that if a property has a higher value than last year, the owner will see property taxes increase by the same amount.

READ ALSO: Property values decrease in Penticton, rise elsewhere in South Okanagan Similkameen

READ ALSO: Assessment value increases do not correlate with higher taxes, says Municipality

It’s not always a valid concern, though. There is a direct connection between the assessed value of a property and the tax burden for the property owner, but that doesn’t mean higher assessments will automatically result in higher taxes.

If the municipal budget remains exactly as it was in the previous year, it’s still the same tax burden spread across the same number of properties, so an average increase in property values of two per cent doesn’t automatically translate into a two per cent increase across the board.

The exceptions would be those whose assessments increased by more or less than the community average. They would see their taxes increase or decrease.

In most Okanagan communities, assessments increased this year.

And in spring, when municipal governments present their budgets, taxes are likely to increase.

Budgets are determined by considering the amount of money a municipal government will need over the coming year. If the municipal staff and council members believe more money will be needed to deliver services, taxes will increase.

It’s a balancing act that municipal council and staff have to juggle continuously, trying to determine how to set the budget in order to deliver services and plan for the future, while at the same time hearing the complaints from those upset with tax increases.

Those complaints though are as much a part of the process as appealing the assessment on your home — they help inform the process.

— Black Press

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