Property TaxesProperty 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:
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.
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.
Regional District TaxesRegional districts tax specific properties for specific services such as:
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 GrantsHome 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.
Tax ExemptionsEvery 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:
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.
The Local Government Department collects information about
tax rates and tax revenues and each municipality must submit their rates by May 15 each year.