Rising tax assessments don't necessarily mean your property taxes will increase

Released last week, Bowen's average home assessment rose 8 per cent over last year.

With the release of B.C.’s tax assessments last week, Bowen saw an average 8.3 per cent rise in assessed residential property values between 2017 and 2018.

Business and other assessments rose by 9 per cent. 

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Tim Rhodes, a realtor on-island says that in the past, tax assessments have been much lower than market values. 

He notes that between 2014 and 2016, the residential assessments rose a mere 9.8 per cent, but between 2016 and 2018, the jump was 46 per cent. 

“[Past tax assessments] were unrealistically low and they’ve been playing a bit of catch up,” 

he said. 

On January 3, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver released the December benchmark (typical) home price, which is now $1,001,800. The average tax assessment value is $966,000.  

However, Rhodes notes that determining average prices on Bowen is tricky as there is a diverse price range. 

Bowen also has a smaller market than its mainland neighbours.

Rhodes said that tax assessments more aligned with market values are good for people trying to sell their homes. 

“The problem has been that buyers will go and look up the assessed value and in 2014-2016, those assessed values were very low,” he said. “As they approach market value, you wind up, as a seller, or a seller’s realtor, in a better position to support the price you’re asking.”

High overall assessments does not necessarily mean tax increase

Bowen Island Municipality chief financial officer Raj Hayre stresses that an overall rise in property assessments does not mean an overall rise in property taxes. 

“What assessments do is they change the distribution among properties,” said Hayre. 

As an example, if everyone on Bowen’s taxes rose by exactly eight per cent, then everyone would pay the same proportion of taxes they did last year. 

If your property is assessed at more than your neighbour’s, you’ll be paying more taxes than they will be and vice versa. 

If property taxes don’t rise this year, the municipality will collect the same amount of money it did last year, though the distribution of who pays how much could have changed with the newest tax assessment. 

We won’t know for a month or so if Bowen’s property taxes will rise or by how much. 

“Tax increase is informed through the budget process,” said Hayre. 

In the budget process, the municipality looks at its revenue sources and its expected expenditures and the difference is funded through taxation, upon council approval.  

The municipality is currently in the budget process and will be consulting the public in the next month or so. Budget open house dates will be published in the Undercurrent

Islands Trust

In another taxation stream, Bowen’s contribution to the Islands Trust is based on its total assessed property value. 

“They do the same thing we do in establishing their budget,” said Hayre. 

Basically, if Bowen’s assessment went up by more than other islands’ then we could be paying more than we did last year and if the Trust’s budget is higher than last year’s, we also could be paying more.

In 2017, Bowen Island paid $242,048 to the Islands Trust. 

As for this year, “It’s a little bit early to say what the levy from them might be,” said Hayre.


Curious what your home is worth? You should be receiving your latest assessment in the mail but you can check online here

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