The Assessment Office
The primary responsibility of the Assessment Office is to determine the market value of every property in the M.D. of Willow Creek so that all taxpayers contribute their fair share to pay for the services they enjoy.
The Assessment Office does not set tax rates nor do they determine how much must be collected in yearly taxes.
The most important product of the Assessment Office is the Assessment roll which is a listing of all properties located within the M.D. of Willow Creek and their assessed values.
The purpose of an assessment system is the equitable distribution of taxation for the purpose of paying for public services.
The M.D. of Willow Creek uses the assessment roll to determine the tax rates that have to be set to raise the revenues required by themselves and various taxing authorities. The M.D. of Willow Creek collects taxes for the Province of Alberta (Alberta Education & Seniors' Foundation).
The Alberta Government has mandated that property assessments for 1998 and future taxation years with the Province:
Are reflective of the market value of the property as of July 1 of the previous year, and
Most reflect the characteristics and physical condition of the property on December 31 of the year prior to the year in which a tax is imposed, and
That the assessments must be kept current by being updated on an annual basis.
What is Market Value?
Market value is the most probable price which would be paid for a property in a competitive and open market. It assumes the buyer and seller are acting prudently and knowledgeably, allowing sufficient time for the sale and assumes that the transaction is not affected by undue pressures.
What are Property Classes?
Once the assessment has been determined, the Assessor's Office must determine which tax classification is appropriate for your property. There are several property tax classification used in the M.D. of Willow Creek; Single Family Residential, Non-Residential, & Farmland. Different tax rates are set for these different property tax classifications. Farmland is assessed at its' productivity rating rather than market value.
How is Property Valued?
The Assessor's Office doesn't create the value of your property, it is created by the real estate marketplace. The Assessor's Office just measures it.
The Assessor's Office is kept informed by the Provincial Land Titles Office of all real estate sales within the M.D. of Willow Creek.
The Appraisers of the Assessor's Office apply the accepted mass appraisal practices using information from all property sales within the M.D. of Willow Creek to estimate the market value of your property. They take into account all the market conditions that may affect your property's value such as location, size, shape, replacement cost, age and the condition of your buildings.
We paid $145,000 for our property. Why is it assessed at $155,000?
The real estate market has many forces affecting the value of a property. These include supply and demand, the motivation of buyers and sellers, renovations, remodeling, normal wear and tear and so on.
When similar properties are sold during the same time frame, a range of sale prices results. Assessed values reflect the sales in the middle of this range of prices. This is why there are assessments that are higher or lower than the selling price.
What can I do if I disagree with the Assessors estimate of my property value?
Prior to filing a written complaint, you are encouraged to contact the M.D. of Willow Creek Assessor's Office (Benchmark Assessment Consultants, Inc.). The Assessor will be pleased to review the assessment with you. If the Assessor determines that an error has been made, your assessment will be revised.
I still disagree with the assessment or tax classification. What should I do?
If, after talking with the Assessor's Office your concerns are not satisfied, you may file a formal complaint with the Assessment Review Board. A written complaint explaining why you feel your assessment is incorrect, along with the appropriate filing fee, must be sent to the Clerk of the Assessment Review Board for the M.D. of Willow Creek. The information required to file a complaint, along with a fee schedule, is stated on an insert sent with your assessment & tax notice.
What is a Tax Rate?
A tax rate is the rate of taxation applied against the value of property within a municipality to collect the revenue required by the various taxation authorities. Normally the tax rate is expressed in mills (dollars in tax paid per thousand dollars of property value) or sometimes as a percentage of the property's value (i.e. a tax rate of 1.5% on a home valued at $100,000 would require the payment of $1,500 in annual property taxes).
Can I appeal my taxes?
No. You can appeal only the assessment of your property.
Where can I receive more information about property assessment or taxation?
Benchmark Assessment Consultants Inc.
Assessor, MD of Willow Creek
#4 - 320 W.T. Hill Blvd
Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 4W9
Phone: (403) 381-0535