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Property Taxation

 

Property Taxes

Property taxation is the main source of revenue for local governments. Municipalities have authority under Part 7 of the Community Charter to tax property owners; this same authority does not apply to regional districts. Instead, the Local Government Act provides the authority for regional districts to establish bylaws setting out maximum taxation amounts. The Province taxes property owners on the regional districts' behalf and remits the revenue to the regional district.
 

Property taxes generally pay for local government administration, staffing, debt servicing, leases, and the costs to provide services to the community. Examples of these services include:

  • libraries;
  • water systems;
  • sewer systems;
  • garbage pickup;
  • bylaw enforcement; and,
  • fire and police protection.

Property taxes are calculated on the basis of the market value, or "assessment", of land, improvements or both (i.e. house, barn, garage, yard) and the municipal "tax rate". Most local governments calculate taxes using the variable tax rate system where tax rates are based on a dollar figure per $1,000 dollars of assessed property value (i.e. $1.02/$1,000). Using this example, the property taxes payable on a $300,000 property would be $306.
 

Tax rates differ between municipalities and may vary depending on the "class" of property. Municipalities set their annual tax rates based on the revenue needs set out in their financial plan.
 

Municipalities are required to collect taxes on behalf of:

MFA, BCA, GVTA and BC Transit have the legislative authority to set their own tax rates and the provincial government sets school district tax rates.
 

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Major Industrial Taxes

In 2009, the Ministry began a collaborative process to review major industrial property tax in response to several court challenges regarding municipal tax rates for major industrial properties.


A steering committee consisting of Ministry, Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) and industry representatives was established to define major industrial property tax-related issues and to identify potential solutions. The Major Industrial Properties Steering Committee Final Report (306KB, PDF) has been completed by the steering committee and is now available.


During the major industrial property tax review process, the Ministry and UBCM also conducted a study to determine the impacts of municipal property taxation on decisions within various industries and business sectors. The Major Industrial Property Taxation Impacts Report (1.8MG, PDF) has been completed and is now available.

 

Regional District Taxes

Regional districts tax specific properties for specific services such as:
  • fire protection;
  • street lighting;
  • garbage;
  • recycling;
  • recreation;
  • water;
  • sewer; and
  • general administration.

Each service is established by bylaw which sets out the maximum amount to be charged for that service in a given year. The bylaw also defines which properties fall within the service area. A single property may fall within a number of service areas and therefore be taxed a different amount than another property depending on the number of services it receives.
 

Regional districts create annual tax requisitions specifying the amount to be collected for each service in order to meet their annual revenue needs. The Surveyor of Taxes establishes a tax rate which is then levied against the properties within the regional district's electoral areas which are areas located outside municipal boundaries. Where a regional district provides services to properties within a municipal boundary, the municipality levies and collects taxes on the regional district's behalf and then remits the money to the regional district.
 

Home Owner Grants

Home owners who are Canadian citizens or landed immigrants and reside permanently in British Columbia may be entitled to a Provincial Home Owner Grant. This annual grant reduces the total amount of property taxes to be paid by a residential property owner to their local government.
 

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Tax Exemptions

Every property owner in the province must pay property taxes unless specifically exempted by provincial statute . Statutory exemptions are listed in both the Community Charter and the Taxation Rural Area Act. These properties include, but are not limited to:
  • schools and universities;
  • public libraries;
  • places of public worship; and,
  • hospitals.

Under the Community Charter and the Local Government Act, local governments may grant permissive tax exemptions which exempt certain properties from taxation for a specified period of time. Generally, public parks owned and held by an athletic or service club, not-for-profit corporations, art galleries or museums owned by a charitable or philanthropic organization and property owned by a local authority receive permissive tax exemptions.
 

Revitalization Tax Exemptions (82 KB)
Amendments to Municipal Financial Plans and Revitalization Tax Exemptions
 

The Local Government Department collects information about municipal tax rates and tax revenues and each municipality must submit their rates by May 15 each year.
 

 

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