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Parcel Tax


A parcel is any designated area of land that does not include a highway. For example, a house and yard represent one parcel. Local governments can charge taxes against each parcel as one method of recovering its costs.

A parcel tax can be imposed on the basis of a single amount for each parcel; the taxable area of a parcel; and the taxable frontage of the parcel. The bylaws required to establish a parcel tax scheme must identify the service; state the basis and specify the years for which the tax is imposed. In addition, they must establish how the taxable area or the taxable frontage of a given property is determined. A municipality must make available to the public, on request, a report respecting how the amounts or rates were determined.

Parcel taxes are often used instead of, or in conjunction with, user fees to recover the costs of providing local government services. They can be levied on any property that has the opportunity to be provided with a service regardless of whether or not the service is being used. For instance, if a septic system is being used on a property but a sewer system is available in the neighbourhood, the parcel could still be charged a parcel tax for the sewer service on the basis that the parcel could be connected to the sewer system in the future. If the property cannot be serviced by the sewer, the charge cannot be applied.

A special assessment listing, or roll, must be created before a parcel tax can be imposed. The assessment listing or roll lists the parcels to be charged and includes the name and address of the owners of each parcel. Once it has been completed, the roll must be available for public inspection. If requested by an owner, the local government must omit or obscure the address of the owner or other information about the owner in order to protect their privacy or security.

A review panel must be formed by the local government to consider any complaints about the roll and to authenticate it. A person can make a complaint to the review panel on the basis that there is an error or omission with regard to a name or address, the inclusion of a parcel, the taxable area or frontage, or that an exemption has been improperly allowed or disallowed. Owners are sent a notice of the date set for the sitting of the review panel.

A parcel tax can only be applied to properties that may receive a particular service. It cannot be used to recover costs such as general local government administration costs. A parcel tax scheme provides local governments with options in addition to the ability to recover its costs from a variable tax rate system which is based on the assessed value of land and/or improvements.


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