An assessment appeal is a complaint about the assessment of a property as determined by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). It is made under the Assessment Act.
We manage all aspects of an assessment appeal including settlement negotiations with MPAC prior to a hearing, recent sale investigations and preparation of a Valuation Report to be provided as evidence. We perform a comprehensive review and analysis of annual assessment notices. We will review and analyze detailed revenue and expense statements, conduct site inspections, analyze Amended Assessment Notices and Supplementary Assessment Notices, file applications and annual protective appeals where necessary.
We file all material required by legislation and will pursue the most appropriate litigation strategy. We have experienced legal counsel committed to argue your case, and valuators who will present expert evidence on your behalf. This approach has allowed us to successfully recover millions of tax dollars for our clients.
Most assessment appeals are resolved through negotiation. In order to facilitate the negotiation process, we attend to all preliminary procedural matters leading up to a hearing. We will obtain the most recent valuation records from MPAC and conduct a detailed review and analysis of the records to verify data integrity. Most importantly, we will identify all potential areas to maximize your tax recovery, and minimize your taxes going forward.
A tax appeal is a complaint about how a municipality calculated taxes for a specific property. For most municipalities, the appeal is made under the Municipal Act, 2001. Toronto has its’ own taxing statute entitled the City of Toronto Act, 2006, which in most respects mirrors the provincial counterpart.
There have been many changes to Ontario’s property tax legislation in recent years. One consequence of the changes is occasional errors in property assessments and tax bills. If errors are not corrected, they can lead to excessive taxes that will be virtually impossible to correct in future years.
We are at the forefront of the changes to the Assessment Act and the Municipal Act through our successful representation of clients who have appealed their property taxes. We have consulted with the Province with respect to proposed legislative amendments to the assessment system and have successfully challenged flawed taxation practices.
We are constantly staying informed of the continuous changes to the laws relating to property taxation. Our legal advisors work co-operatively with municipal tax officials and MPAC officials to secure fast, fair, and accurate assessments and tax bills. In the vast majority of cases, results are achieved through a negotiated resolution with Tax Department representatives.
Owners of multi-tenanted commercial and industrial properties must allocate property taxes among tenants not only according to the terms of the lease, but also according to legislation. The amount of property taxes allocated to a tenant can be quite substantial to any business.
The process of correctly allocating property taxes is complex and involves many factors. We often review properties where there are competing leases, such that there are differing formulas in use. The terms of one lease may contradict the terms of another, which leads to a situation with some tenants underpaying, and other tenants overpaying in the tax allocation process.
Another important consideration exists when property owners obtain tax refunds. The landlord must determine whether they are contractually bound to allocate these refunds back to the tenants. Property tax allocation among tenants can be a challenging area for both landlords and tenants, and for this reason it is an area where the use of an independent advisor can be invaluable.
We are routinely asked by both tenants and landlords to review their current property tax allocation methodology and ensure compliance with applicable laws. We will review and analyze leases, rent rolls, inducements, and income and expense statements to ensure that your property taxes are being allocated correctly and to your maximum benefit.
For many of our commercial and industrial clients, we manage the annual requirements of the vacancy rebate program as provided for in Part X of the Municipal Act, 2001. This includes the preparation of vacancy-related tax rebate applications, and preparing the vacancy status verification documents. This process is often supplemented by a Vacancy Rebate Affidavit sworn under oath by an representative of the property owner.
We ensure not only that the rebate application has been processed by both MPAC and the municipality, but also that it has been processed correctly. We audit the resulting calculations that form the basis of the rebate amount credited by the municipality, and report our conclusions to our clients in a final report.
For many property owners, we are able to offer the services of a complete Property Assessment Review on a fixed-fee basis. This involves a comprehensive review and analysis of annual assessment notices, amended and supplementary notices, income and expense statements and rent rolls. We will provide you with a comprehensive report outlining our recommended tax minimization strategy.
We view ourselves as an asset to our clients by providing timely, accurate legal services that are affordable to both the client and the firm. For further information about the types of property assessment matters than can be handled on a fixed-fee basis, please contact us.
We take into account many factors in billing for legal services. Our fees for property tax services are significantly influenced by, but not entirely based upon, the hourly rates assigned to the lawyer, paralegal or assistant performing the services. Due consideration is also given to other factors including the complexity, difficulty and novelty of the issues involved; the degree of expertise required to handle the project; the time constraints imposed on completing the work; and the results obtained on the client’s behalf. The nature of the project will often determine how the fees are charged.
Our hourly rates for professional staff are based on years of experience, specialization in training and practice, and the level of professional attainment. We keep detailed records of the time we spend on a project, and bill the work quarterly to keep the client informed of our activities. In addition to the hourly fees, clients are billed quarterly for all costs and expenses incurred on their behalf. A schedule of our hourly rates is available on request.
The majority of our clients choose the contingency fee option. A contingency fee is performance-based whereby a fee is only charged if there has been a refund or reduction in taxes. Our fees are based on a percentage of the amount of any refund or reduction in taxes. If there is no tax refund, there is no fee payable.
A challenge to the quantum of assessment is a type of matter that lends itself well to the contingency fee model. On the other hand, a dispute between a landlord and tenant over the correct methodology for allocating property taxes is a type of matter that would be handled on an hourly rate basis.
We offer free consultations to find out the nature of your case and when required, we will visit your property for inspection. This will allow both parties to determine the most appropriate basis of the retainer.