Opinion: Burnaby lowered the tax hike, but his taxes still went up 12%

Chris Campbell

A Burnaby homeowner emailed me upset about his property taxes.

That’s not unusual. People always seem angry about their property taxes. I’m including what he sent me because tax calculations are complicated.

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Recently, Burnaby council voted to lower its proposed property tax hike from 3.5% to 1.75%.

But that isn’t necessarily what happens, according to a homeowner who emailed me.

“This is Burnaby's explanation on why my property taxes went up by 12% (not 1.75% as advertised), but my assessed value declined by 8%-plus. Taxpayers were never told about the 11% mill rate increase to my knowledge. False or misleading advertising.”

What follows is the response he received from the City of Burnaby about how the calculations are made:

“The 1.75% you are reading about for 2020 is only the General tax rate that is set by City of Burnaby.The entire tax rate each year is comprised of additional components and these rates are determined by the Provincial Government. If you compare the rates below you can see that the entire tax/mill rate was increased from 2.8411% to 3.1804% (11%). Therefore, even if the City limits their general tax increase to 1.75% it does not mean your taxes will increase only by this much.

“Note: the 1.755 increase is not on last year’s posted rate of 1.5119. It is based on the revised rate of 1.6746 which was determined by our Finance Department when they first learned on the 2020 total assessment value.To further complicate the calculation; there is also a relationship to the percentage increase/decrease of a properties assessed value in relation to the City’s average property value decrease this year, which was 9.71%.If your assessment value decrease was in and around the average of 9.715 you might see a change closer to nil increase. Because your decrease was lower than the average you still see an increase on your gross taxes despite the lower value.”

I give full marks to this city employee for explaining things.

Not sure if this all makes people feel better, but there you go.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.


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