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FINANCE - Taxation - Real or immovable property assessment - Principles - Equity - Classes - Commercial - Methods of assessment - Appeals - Courts

Thursday, April 20, 2017 @ 8:39 AM  

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Appeal by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) from a decision by the Assessment Review Board in favour of the respondent, Loblaw Properties. The respondent owned and operated a grocery store on the edge of a ravine, near a subway station, with unobstructed views of downtown Toronto. The present zoning permitted 200,000 square feet of residential gross floor area. The property currently included an 18,180 square foot single-storey grocery store and a surface parking lot. The respondent appealed the 2006 through 2012 taxation assessments on the basis the assessments included a three-storey parking garage that had been demolished in 2001. MPAC sought an increase in assessment on the basis the property should be assessed as development lands rather than using the Grocery Store Model and Large Income Retail Analysis. The Board accepted MPAC's approach to assessment. It determined that the current value of the respondent's lands was $8.4 million for the 2006 through 2008 taxation years, and $10.9 million for the 2009 through 2012 taxation years. However, the Board applied the principle of equity in ss. 44(2) and 44(3)(b) of the Assessment Act to lower the assessed value of the lands to $1.6 million as of January 2005 and $3 million as of January 2008. MPAC appealed on the basis the Board erred in its application of the equity principle.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The Board's reasons for its ruling failed to adequately canvass the test for application of the equitable principle, and failed to state why it limited its consideration to two other similar grocery stores in the area. In respect of comparable properties, a single point of similarity, such as use, was not necessarily determinative. The application of the equitable principle resulted in assessed values below 30 per cent of current values, and significantly below the current value of the comparable properties. The lack of discernable analysis of the core issue or explanation for use of the sole comparator of grocery stores given the unique nature of the respondent's property meant that the decision lacked justification and was therefore unreasonable. The Board's decision, as it related to the application of the equitable principle, was set aside and remitted for redetermination.

Municipal Property Assessment Corp. v. Loblaw Properties Ltd., [2017] O.J. No. 1010, Ontario Superior Court of Justice - Divisional Court, G.B. Morawetz R.S.J., I.V.B. Nordheimer and G.M. Mulligan JJ., March 1, 2017. Digest No. TLD-Apr172017008