Property assessment is the process of assigning a dollar value to a property for taxation purposes. In Alberta, a property is taxed based on the value of the property. Property assessment is the method used to distribute the tax burden among property owners in a municipality. Your assessment is completed using the laws outlined in the Municipal Government Act. All municipalities are required, by law, to use and follow this act.
The following are a few frequently asked questions about property assessment:
What is the difference between assessment and taxes?
Quite often property owners confuse taxes with assessment. It is important to distinguish the difference. Although one impacts the other, each is a distinct and independent process. "Assessment" is the process of assigning a dollar value on a property for taxation purposes. This value is used to calculate the amount of taxes that will be charged to the owner of the property. "Taxation" is the process of applying a tax rate to a property's assessed value to determine the taxes payable by the owner of the property. An owner cannot change the tax rate, however an owner can question their property assessment.
How do I know my assessment is correct?
Red Deer County assessors work diligently to value property as accurately as possible in relation to similar properties and according to provincial regulations and guidelines.
The more accurate the assessed values, the more equitable the entire assessment system is. Detailed information about each property is gathered by making on-site visits and/or by corresponding with the property owner. Correspondence with an owner usually occurs when the assessor is requesting information about the sale of a property, construction costs, or rental income for non-residential property. Information is also available to the assessor from other sources including Alberta Land Titles, Real Estate Multiple Listing Services, and financial institutions. Assessors review properties on a 5 year inspection cycle, as well as periodically to ensure file information is accurate. Having an assessor visit your property for an inspection can be a good opportunity to confirm that the assessment data is correct. If you would like your assessor to re-inspect your property, please call 403.350.2166 and ask to speak to your assessor.
What is market value?
All assessments, other than farmland, are based on market values. Properties in Alberta are classified as either residential, non-residential, farmland, linear or machinery & equipment. Some properties have more than one class.
In Alberta, the marketplace determines the values of your property, not the assessor. Properties with similar market values will have comparable assessed values. Market value is determined by analyzing the sales of all property types throughout the municipality. Since assessment reflects median sale values, the assessment may be slightly higher or lower than an actual sale price on a particular property.
What is mass appraisal?
Properties in Alberta are assessed using a method called mass appraisal. Mass appraisal is the process of valuing a group of properties as of a given date, using common data, mathematical models, and statistical tests. The use of a mass-appraisal process results in assessments that are accurate in comparison to the market standard and uniform in comparison to similar properties.
How is farmland assessed?
Farmland is assessed on the basis of its productive value for agricultural use, and assessed using the annual Alberta Ministers' Guidelines, in conjunction with the Alberta Farmland Assessment Manual. This is not based on market value. This is designed to measure the potential ability of the land to produce agricultural products. The Rural Assessment Policy applies the amount of agricultural valued land assessment in the owner's unit as an exemption towards the residence.
What if I don’t agree with my assessment?
The first step a Red Deer County property owner should take if they believe their property assessment is inaccurate is to contact Assessment Services at 403-350-2166 and ask to speak to their assessor. The assessor may request to inspect the property to determine if an error was made; this may include both an interior and exterior inspection of the property. If the assessor agrees that the original notice is not accurate, a corrected notice may be issued. Please note: corrections can only be made to current-year assessment notices and prior to the complaint deadline found on your current year’s Assessment Notice.
If the assessor and the property owner cannot come to an agreement on the assessment, the property owner may begin the formal complaint process by filing a complaint with the municipality’s assessment review board. See FAQ: Assessment Complaint System for further information.
Why does the County ask about my property’s sale information?
Assessment Services mails out Sales Verification letters requesting information on properties that have sold in the County. The information collected helps to ensure we are using the correct information when analyzing the market as it relates to the equitable assessment of properties within the County. We appreciate your cooperation in completing the sales information questions and returning the form to our office.
Guide to Property Assessment and Taxation in Alberta