Assessment Procedure for the Assessment Review Board Appeal Process
To provide direction and information about the Assessment Review Board (ARB) appeal process for residential , condominium, farm and managed forest properties.
The Assessment Review Board is an independent adjudicative tribunal administered by the Ministry of the Attorney General. Its main function is to hear appeals from people who believe there is an error in the assessed value or classification of a property. The Board also deals with appeals about other matters, such as school support designation.
There is a fee for filing an appeal with the ARB. The amount varies according to the classification of the property. For further information on filing fees, please visit the www.arb.gov.on.ca.
Sections 40, 40.1, 44 and 45 of the Assessment Act set out the jurisdiction of the ARB and the issues that it can deal with.
Any person may file an appeal with the ARB if they feel:
- the current value assessment of the person’s land, or another person’s land is incorrect;
- they have been wrongly placed on or omitted from the assessment roll;
- the school support is incorrect;
- the property classification is incorrect; or
- if a property has more than one property class, the portion of value that is attributable to each class is incorrect.
Any of these appeals may be filed by the owner of a property, a third party, a municipality or a school board. The person who filed the appeal is referred to as the appellant. The person or party responding to the appeal is referred to as the respondent.
A representative may act on behalf of a property owner. In 2006, changes were made to the Law Society Act with respect to who can act as a representative for a property owner. If you are not the owner of the property, you must also supply a Representative Authorization Form signed by the property owner stating that you are representing the owner in this matter. Persons approved by the Law Society of Upper Canada to practice law or provide legal services in Ontario are not required to complete the Representative Authorization Form.
Before Filing an Appeal
If a property owner does not agree with their assessment, they should first contact MPAC at 1 866-296-MPAC (6722). MPAC will explain how the assessed value was determined and answer any questions.
Residential, Farm and Managed Forest Properties
If a property, or a portion of it, is classified as residential, farm or managed forest, the property owner must first complete the Request for Reconsideration (RfR) process before becoming eligible to file an appeal with the ARB. A property’s classification is indicated on every Property Assessment Notice. The deadline to file a RfR with MPAC is March 31 of the tax year.
Property owners have 90 days after MPAC has notified them of its decision on a RfR to file an appeal with the ARB.
To request eligibility for the farm or managed forest tax classes, or a conservation land exemption, a property owner must file a RfR with the respective program administrator. For more information, please contact MPAC at 1 866 296-MPAC (6722).
Other Property Types
For any other property types, property owners can choose to either file a RfR with MPAC or file an appeal with the ARB. The deadline to file a RfR with MPAC is March 31 of the tax year. However, if an owner chooses to file with the ARB, the deadline to file the appeal is also March 31 of the tax year.
If a property owner chooses to file a RfR first, MPAC will mail the results of the review to the person making the request by September 30 of the taxation year to which the Property Assessment Notice relates, or, if MPAC and the person agree to an extension, the results will be mailed by November 30 of that tax year. The last day for the person to appeal for a taxation year is 90 days after the result of the RfR by MPAC has been mailed.
Please refer to the procedure for the RfR process for more information.
Filing a RfR with MPAC is free.
Filing an Appeal
Appeals must be filed in writing, using the ARB’s appeal form available at MPAC offices, municipal offices, government information centres, or at www.arb.gov.on.ca.
When the ARB receives an appeal, they send an acknowledgment to the appellant. Once the appeal has been scheduled for a hearing, the ARB will send a Notice of Hearing no later than 14 days prior to the hearing date, informing all parties of the date, time and location of the hearing. The hearing is usually held in the municipality or in a location as close as possible to the municipality where the property is located.
The hearings usually begin at 9:30 a.m. and continue until the final appeal scheduled for that day has been heard. The parties involved in the appeal process are:
- the appellant and all persons whose property assessment has been appealed;
- the municipality; and
MPAC, usually represented by a Property Valuation Analyst from the local MPAC office.
Before the Hearing
MPAC’s Property Valuation Anayst will review the nature of the appeal and contact the appellant to ensure he/she understands why the appellant believes that the assessed value or the classification of the property may be incorrect. In addition, the Property Valuation Analyst will verify that all of MPAC’s data used to arrive at the assessed value and/or classification is complete and accurate and, if warranted, an on-site inspection will be completed.
During the RfR process, MPAC will also provide the property owner with an acknowledgement letter and a Property Profile Report which provides detailed assessment information on the property including:
- assessment roll information;
- site information;
- recent sales information; and
- structural information.
Property owners may request information on up to 24 similar properties by accessing AboutMyProperty™. This is available through MPAC’s website and offers the property owner information for similar properties on a Properties of Interest Report.
Properties of Interest Reports include:
- assessment roll information;
- site information;
- recent sales information; and
- structural information.
Through this website, residential property owners will also be given access to a report containing details of up to 15 sales that occurred in their neighbourhood. The report will contain similar data as provided for the Properties of Interest Report but will not include the Property Assessment Details (PAD).
MPAC will disclose the evidence to be presented at least 21 days in advance of the hearing date. If the Property Valuation Analyst does not provide this information to the property owner before the hearing, he/she will advise them in writing that MPAC will support their request to adjourn the hearing if they require more time to prepare for it. For more information on requesting an adjournment, see the Assessment Review Board Rules of Practice and Procedure. The decision to grant an adjournment is at the discretion of the ARB.
At least 21 days prior to a hearing, the Assessment Review Board requires all parties to exchange documents that are intended to be submitted as evidence before the Board. Failure to do so may result in a party being restricted from presenting evidence.
MPAC encourages the appellant to exchange evidence with MPAC prior to the hearing. This evidence may support a change to the assessed value or the classification and may lead to a resolution of the appeal. For more information the disclosure of evidence prior to a hearing event, see the Assessment Review Board Rules of Practice and Procedure. If that occurs, a settlement agreement can be signed and provided to the ARB and there is no need for a hearing.
MPAC will review all of the evidence and advise if the assessed value and/or classification should be changed. If a change is recommended, MPAC will prepare Minutes of Settlement for consideration by the property owner.
If the property owner, MPAC and the municipality agree with the adjusted assessment, all parties will sign the Minutes of Settlement and MPAC will submit them to the ARB.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the appeal will proceed to a hearing.
If one of the parties cannot attend on the date set for the hearing, they may request an adjournment in writing to the ARB, outlining the reasons for the request. Please refer to the ARB Rules of Practice and Procedure for more information about requesting adjournments.
If the appellant decides to withdraw an appeal already filed with the ARB, they must do so in writing to the Board. The ARB will advise all affected parties of the withdrawal.
ARB's Criteria to Determine Accuracy of Assessments
Section 44 (3) of the Assessment Act directs that for 2009 and subsequent taxation years, in determining the value at which any land shall be assessed, the ARB shall:
(a) determine the current value of the land; and
(b) have reference to the value at which similar lands in the vicinity are assessed and adjust the assessment of the land to make it equitable with that of similar lands in the vicinity if such an adjustment would result in a reduction of the assessment of the land.
At the hearing, MPAC has the onus, or burden of proving the correctness of the current value. The appellant has the onus, or burden of proof if the issue under appeal is classification, equity, or any issue other than correctness of current value.
Preparing for an ARB Hearing
If a settlement with MPAC cannot be reached, the appellant should prepare for the hearing by:
- continuing discussions with MPAC to get an understanding of how their property is assessed and the evidence that MPAC will be relying on at the hearing;
- obtaining sales information on comparable properties in the vicinity, concentrating on sales occurring around the valuation date. This information can be used as evidence at the hearing to show that the assessed value is not accurate when compared to sales that have occurred in the market place;
- identifying the properties that are most comparable to their property. Since, it is not always possible to find a comparable property that is an exact replica, try to select similar properties as close as possible to the property under appeal. These properties should be similar in:
- size of the lot, frontage and depth;
- building size, (using outside measurements in square feet, not including the basement, garages or porches);
- structure details, including age, quality and condition, type of structure (e.g., detached, semi-detached, split-level), number of storeys and number of bathrooms; and
- if the basement is finished.
- obtaining information on the comparable properties. This information is available from MPAC through AboutMyProperty™ or upon request, but the appellant can choose to collect this information from other sources;
- in reviewing the comparable properties and preparing their evidence, the appellant should focus on why their property may be inequitably assessed with similar property in the vicinity; and
- if possible, obtain photographs of your property and the comparable properties selected.
Waterfront Residential Properties
Most waterfront properties are unique and when selecting comparable properties, it is important to consider the differences in several features of the properties in addition to structure details, including:
- amount and type of frontage (e.g., sandy versus rocky);
- shape or size of the lot; and
- available services.
It may be more difficult to find similar or comparable properties for waterfront residential properties. Comparable properties should be selected from the same lake, river or canal. On a larger lake or river, properties in the same vicinity should be selected.
The ARB Hearing
Since the ARB schedules all appeals for the day starting at 9:30 a.m., it hears the appeals on a “first come, first served” basis, with exceptions made for special circumstances.
The appellant can bring someone to the hearing to speak on his/her behalf if there is a language barrier. The ARB provides French-language hearings upon request of the appellant.
Before the hearing begins, the ARB member will explain the hearing process. The hearing usually follows these steps:
- The parties are sworn in or affirmed;
- MPAC’s Property Valuation Analyst describes the property under appeal, including the property details, the method of valuation and the valuation date;
- The Property Valuation Analyst will then present his/her evidence to show why they believe that the assessed value or property classification is correct and that the assessed value is equitable;
- The appellant may then ask the Property Valuation Analyst about his/her evidence (this is referred to as cross-examination);
- If the municipality is participating, they may cross-examine the Property Valuation Analyst about his/her evidence;
- The municipality may present their evidence;
- Both MPAC and the appellant may cross-examine the municipality about their evidence
- The appellant is then asked to present his/her evidence outlining the reasons why they believe the assessment and/or classification are incorrect;
- The Property Valuation Analyst and the municipality may then ask questions of the appellant about their evidence;
- All parties may make a closing argument, also known as submissions;
- All parties may have the opportunity to reply to the closing arguments; and
- The appellant is also given the opportunity to make a closing statement after all other parties have made their submissions.
It is important to remember that the ARB member has not seen the property in question, so pictures, diagrams and maps can be helpful.
It is also important to remember that the ARB may not consider:
- property taxes;
- exemptions from taxes; and/or
- level of services being provided by the municipality.
The ARB member will keep all of the information presented. It is recommended that the property owner bring three additional copies of their information to the hearing, one for the ARB member, one for MPAC’s Property Valuation Analyst, and one for the municipal representative. The Property Valuation Analyst will also bring copies of his/her evidence.
The ARB will make its decision based on the evidence presented. In most cases, the Board member will give the decision verbally at the conclusion of the hearing. In some cases, the Board member may want to further consider the evidence that has been presented and will issue their decision at a later date.
In both cases, the Board will mail a copy of its decision to all parties involved. Any of the parties may ask the Board member to provide written reasons for the decision.
The municipality will receive a copy of the decision and will adjust property taxes accordingly. Any questions about when the adjustment will be applied to the property taxes should be directed to the local municipality.
If the only issue being dealt with by the Assessment Review Board is the assessed value of the property, the decision made by the Board is final unless there are grounds for a review under the Assessment Review Board’s Rules of Practice and Procedure.
Review of Decision
The ARB’s Rules of Practice and Procedure allows the Board to review its decisions. This is not an opportunity to have the appeal re-heard or to re-argue the appeal. In deciding whether to review a decision, the Board will usually consider:
- whether the panel made a material error of law or fact, which, if corrected, would have a significant effect on the decision;
- whether any other person has relied upon or acted on the decision; and
- whether the rights of a party other than the requester will be prejudiced if the decision is changed.
Question of Law
If there is a question of law at issue in the appeal, then an ARB decision may be appealed to the Divisional Court. More information regarding an appeal is available at www.arb.gov.on.ca.
Application of the Decision to Future Years
All decisions of the ARB, whether by Minutes of Settlement or decisions of the Board, are carried forward to future assessment years where the valuation date and circumstance have not changed. Decisions may not be carried forward if there has been:
- a physical change to the property that affects the assessed value;
- change in use affecting the classification; or
- new evidence that clearly demonstrates that a further adjustment is necessary, or that the adjustment given is no longer warranted. Where such exceptions occur, MPAC will notify the property owner.
For more details on preparing for a hearing and presenting a case to the Assessment Review Board, please visit www.arb.gov.on.ca.
|Assessment Review Board Rules of Practice and Procedure|
|Resolving Assessment Concerns – Request for Reconsideration|
Note: This procedure has been developed to provide the public with a general understanding of the assessment procedure for the Assessment Review Board appeal process. The applicable law prevails to the extent there is any conflict between the procedure and the relevant law.