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FINANCE - Taxation - Real or immoveable property assessment - Market value

Monday, November 02, 2020 @ 9:00 AM  

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Appeal by the taxpayer from a decision of the Appeals Committee upholding the 2016 municipal tax assessment of the land of a Refinery. The Refinery was zoned as heavy industrial property. The assessor assessed the land as non-regulated property using the market valuation standard. This involved applying a land size multiplier to adjust for the Refinery’s lot size. To calculate the multiplier, the Assessor calculated and used the same base land rate and the same multiplier curve as had been calculated and used in the 2016 Imperial Oil assessment. The Assessor calculated a multiplier of 105 per cent based on the comparable dataset which translated to a slight decrease in the price per unit as lot sizes increased.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The Committee erred by failing to find that the 105 per cent multiplier curve was unreliable and should not have been applied. While the taxpayer established error in this regard, the City met its onus of establishing that equity had nonetheless been achieved through the 2016 assessment of the Refinery. The Assessor followed established assessment practices and principles and fairly took into consideration his knowledge of markets and his prior experience when exercising his skill and judgment under the guidance of the Cost Guide. Pursuant to s. 210(3) of the Cities Act, the Board was not empowered to vary the 2016 assessment simply because the Assessor had applied an unreliable multiplier. The appellant bore the onus of establishing that an assessment had failed to achieve equity. The Committee correctly found no reversible error in the Board’s handling of the evidence and in its finding that the taxpayer had failed to establish that the 2016 assessment of the Refinery had not achieved equity. There was no error in the Committee’s conclusion that the Refinery was regulated property and that its assessment was subject to the equity standard set out under s. 165(4) of the Act. To the extent the Committee suggested the taxpayer had not displaced the onus on an appellant, the Committee erred. Once an appellant taxpayer had established an error that could be material, the onus shifted to the municipality to prove that the assessment was nonetheless correct or that equity had nonetheless been achieved.

Consumers' Co-operative Refineries Ltd. v. Regina (City), [2020] S.J. No. 359, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, N.W. Caldwell, B. Barrington-Foote and J.D. Kalmakoff JJ.A., October 1, 2020. Digest No. TLD-November22020001