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FINANCE - Taxation - Charitable Overpayment - Remedy - Refund

Friday, February 22, 2019 @ 8:34 AM  

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Application by ImagineAbility for an order of mandamus compelling the tax collector for the City of Winnipeg to correct the tax rolls and compelling the City to refund school taxes it paid. In 2017, the applicant, a charitable organization that assisted people with intellectual disabilities, applied to the Board of Revision to revise the assessment roll. The Board issued its decision in January 2018 and the tax roll for 2018 had been changed to reflect that the applicant was entitled to an exemption for school taxes. The City, relying on customary practice, refused to issue a refund of taxes already paid for 2016 and 2017.

HELD: Application allowed in part. Pursuant to s. 340 of The City of Winnipeg Charter, a change in the tax rolls that showed the applicant had overpaid taxes created a duty on the City to refund excess taxes paid for a maximum of two years. There was no ambiguity in the wording of s. 340 of the Charter. The use of the word “must” in s. 340 made the duties imperative. The City’s customary practice to deny requests for retroactive exemptions undermined the intent of s. 340 of the Charter. The City could not adopt a blanket policy that tax refunds would not be granted. The applicant was entitled to a refund for taxes paid in 2018, the year the assessor knew the change in use, and the year before.

Imagineability Inc. v. Winnipeg (City) Assessor, [2019] M.J. No. 7, Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, S.D. Greenberg J., January 14, 2019. Digest No. TLD-February182019010