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TAXATION - Real or immovable property assessment - Appeals

Tuesday, August 08, 2017 @ 8:40 AM  

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Appeal by Gary L. Redhead Holdings Ltd. (Redhead), a property owner, from a property assessment. The assessment concerned land belonging to approximately 20 corporate entities within the Swift Current area. The Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) determined that the market adjustment factor (MAF) for the property should be fixed at 0.86 for the 2015 taxation year. Redhead appealed the assessment to the Board of Revision and SAMA cross-appealed. Both parties took the position that an incorrect base land rate and land size multiplier were used. While Redhead argued that the MAF was too high, SAMA argued that it was too low. However, SAMA did not request an increase. The Board of Revision agreed with the parties that errors had been made in the calculation of the base land rate and the land size multiplier. It agreed with SAMA that the MAF was too low as certain older sales had been improperly included in the sales array. It held that the correct assessment could not be implemented for 2015 because it would create an inequity in comparison with other property owners who had not appealed their assessments. Redhead appealed the Board of Revision’s decision to the Assessment Appeals Committee (Committee) on the basis the Board of Revision erred by concluding that the MAF was actually too low at 0.86 and dismissing its appeal. It argued that an MAF of 0.57 should be applied. The Committee dismissed the appeal, finding that an MAF of 0.92 was in line with historical MAFs and that the Board of Revision erred by not increasing the assessment. As a result, it increased the MAF from 0.86 to 0.92 for the 2015 year for all the property owners who had appealed their assessments. Redhead appealed the assessment on the basis that the Committee incorrectly concluded it had the legislative authority to increase an assessment without an appeal from the taxing authority.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The appropriate standard of review was correctness. The Committee did not err by finding that either it or the Board of Revision had the authority to increase, decrease or modify an assessment, but that was not the question before it. The question was whether the Committee had the authority to increase an assessment when there had been no appeal to it requesting an increase. The legislature had not intended to confer on the Committee an independent power to increase an assessment simply on the basis that it found an error. An increase must be requested through a notice of appeal that had been filed with the Committee before the Committee could act. Without a notice of appeal from SAMA, the only issues before the Committee were whether the sales array should have been adjusted and whether the Board of Revision had given sufficient reasons. The resolution of those issues did not allow for an increase in the MAF from 0.86 to 0.92.

Gary L. Redhead Holdings Ltd. v. Swift Current No. 137 (Rural Municipality), [2017] S.J. No. 235, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, G.R. Jackson, M.J. Herauf and J.A. Ryan-Froslie JJ.A., June 16, 2017. Digest No. TLD-August72017002