Assessment & Taxation
Assessment and taxation are two separate processes. Assessment is the valuation of your property using provincial government regulations and guidelines. Taxation is your assessment multiplied by the mill rate as set by the municipality.
Assessments are estimates of a property's market value or productivity (farmland). The Assessor does an evaluation of each property based upon various legislative guidelines. Examples of the different types of property would include agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial, etc. These guidelines are developed by the Provincial government and act as a common method of doing assessments all across Alberta.
The Assessor starts with the Tax Roll, which is a listing of all properties in the Municipal District based upon legal land description. About 20% of these properties are reassessed on an annual basis to capture changes to the property. This means all properties are assessed in a five-year cycle. Changes to the property might include building a new house, building deterioration, an increase in market value, or breaking grassland for growing crops. Properties relating to the oil industry are assessed yearly due to the rapid changes of these properties. These assessments are then given to the Municipal District to determine the individual tax bills.
The Municipal District takes the assessments and they are multiplied by the mill rate to determine the final tax bill. The Council determines the mill rate on a yearly basis. Property taxes are the principle source of revenue for the Municipal District. These revenues support the infrastructure, administration, development and other departments that provide services to the municipality. The municipal tax base also supports the school system and the Seniors Lodges. Taxes are due October 31st of each year.
Assessment Appeal Process
The assessments are determined as of December 31st of each year for the following taxation year. When the combined Assessment and Tax Notices are sent out, usually in May or June, ratepayers are given 60 days from the day on which the notices are mailed to appeal their assessment. Ratepayers are encouraged to contact the Assessor for any questions or clarifications regarding the assessment.
The property assessments for taxation purposes are carried out by Wayne Lamb of Benchmark Assessment Consultants Inc. Wayne can be contacted by phone at his office in Lethbridge at 403-381-0535 or Toll Free 1-800-633-9012. A complaint form is included in the combined Assessment & Tax Notice package. There is a fee of $20.00 per parcel for any assessment appeals. Please note that talking to the assessor and discussing your assessment does not require an appeal fee.
Should the ratepayer's concerns not be satisfied, there is a formal appeal process, which involves written complaint and fee payable to the Municipal District. The Municipal District then convenes an Assessment Review Board(ARB) where the assessment can be reviewed. The ARB then makes a ruling on the complaint, which may include a lowering or status quo of the assessment. If there is an assessment change, the Municipal District then reissues a new tax bill with the associated changes.
Taxes are due October 31st of each year. The M.D. of Willow Creek sends out tax notices prior to July 1st each year. If you have not received a tax notice by June 30th please contact the office as you are liable to pay your taxes even if a notice has not been received.
A 10% penalty is applied to all unpaid taxes on November 1st each year. A further 2% penalty is applied to all outstanding taxes on January 1st of each year. Taxes that remain unpaid for 2 years after the mailing of the tax notice have a tax notification registered on their title. If the taxes still remain unpaid 1 year later, the property can be put up for sale by the municipality.