Property taxes are not arbitrarily levied on property owners; they are based on a principle known as "ad valorem", which means people pay taxes based on the value or wealth held in the property they own in any municipality.
Property assessment is not the same as property tax. The City of Meadow Lake uses property assessments as a basis for the fair distribution of taxes among property owners, and simply stated, property assessment is the process of determining a "fair value" for tax purposes.
Fair value is not market value; however, for most types of property it is close to average market values for the municipality or neighbourhood. The calculations used to determine fair value are based on the formulas, rules and regulations set out by Provincial Legislation and the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Association.
The City of Meadow Lake does not perform these assessments. Instead, we contract the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) to conduct this work.
A Notice of Assessment is an official document mailed to a property owner that shows the assessment information related to that property. The notice will show the previous assessed value and the new value. It will also contain information about how to appeal the assessment if there is an error in the information.
Normally, only properties that have a change in their assessment due to changes to the property (such as building or demolishing a house) or changes in tax classification (such as switching from residential to commercial use) will receive a Notice of Assessment.
However, as directed by the provincial government, a province wide revaluation of all properties is to be held every four years. The last revaluation was in 2017, and the next one will be in 2021. In those years, every property owner will receive a Notice of Assessment.
In most cases, your assessment will not match your property’s selling price today. During a revaluation year, assessments are calculated based on the market information from two years previous. (So the 2017 revaluation used sale information from 2015, and the 2021 revaluation will use sale information from 2019).
As well, property sales are affected by many other factors, such as a buyer’s interest in a specific property and a seller’s willingness to reduce sale prices. Fair value assessments are reflective of the average value, determined by comparing the sales of properties with similar uses and characteristics.
Over time, property values change even if no improvements are made. Many people sell their property for more than they paid for it years earlier. This situation can occur because of fluctuations with general economic conditions like interest rates, inflation or supply and demand.
Sometimes a change will also be made where an assessor is correcting a previous error or missed information.
Not necessarily. Taxes are calculated using a formula that divides the total tax dollars needed by the total taxable assessment in the municipality. Even though the assessed value of a property increases dramatically, the taxes may not.
In addition, Council can use tax tools such as base taxes and mill rate adjustment factors, which place less emphasis on assessed values when calculating property taxes. Until Council establishes the tax rate bylaw for 2021, it is impossible to predict the exact individual taxes for a property.
Since Council has approved an overall tax increase of 0% for 2021, it is likely that most property owners will see little change overall to their taxes this year.
Your assessment notice will contain both a full assessment value, and a taxable assessment value. The taxable value is based on percentage of value.
The percentage of value is set by the Province of Saskatchewan to adjust the amount of the assessed value of assessment that is used as the bases for property taxes. In 2017, the provincial government increased the taxable portion of assessment for residential properties from 70% to 80%.
For 2021, the provincial government decreased the taxable portion of assessment for commercial properties from 100% to 85%. The effect of these changes will be to reduce the difference between the tax rates paid by residential and commercial property owners.
For the 2021 revaluation, the percentages of value are:
- non-arable (range or pasture) land at 45 per cent
- other (cultivated) agricultural land at 55 per cent
- residential, multi-unit residential and seasonal residential at 80 per cent
- commercial, industrial, elevator, railway, resource and pipeline at 85 per cent
Since Meadow Lake has only one school division (the Northwest School Division), all properties will have their school support set to public 100%. In communities with separate school divisions, this is where your school declaration information would be reported.
You can appeal to the Board of Revision if you feel there is an error involving one or more of the following:
- Property valuation
- Property classification
- Preparation or content of the assessment roll
- Preparation or content of your assessment notice
You cannot appeal your taxes or the services you receive.
You can only file an appeal when the Assessment Roll is open for inspection. The Roll will be open for a minimum of 30 days, usually in February or March, and notice will be advertised in the local paper as well as at City Hall. During a revaluation year (like 2021), the Roll will be open for at least 60 days.
During the appeal period, you can file an appeal whether or not you received an assessment notice that year. However, your appeal will only impact current and future years, it will not be applied retroactively even if your assessment originally changed in a previous year.
If you have questions about the information contained in you Notice of Assessment or feel your assessment has an error, you should first contact the Assessor. They can explain your assessment to you and describe how they arrived at the value listed. Please phone City Hall at 306-236-3622 and provide your name, contact information and the Civic Address and Roll Number (shown on the assessment notice) of the property you are calling about, and an assessor will contact you as soon as possible.
If you still feel there is an error after speaking to an assessor, you can submit an appeal to the Board of Revision. To do so, a completed Notice of Appeal Form (available at City Hall) must be delivered to:
City of Meadow Lake
Box 610, 120 – 1st Street East
Meadow Lake, SK S9X 1Y5
By the deadline (the date the Assessment Roll closes). Your notice of appeal must include:
- The property under appeal,
- a description of what you are appealing,
- the specific grounds under which you allege an error exists,
- the particular facts supporting each ground of appeal, and
- your mailing address.
Your appeal must also include the appeal fee, which is set out in the Service Fees Bylaw as follows:
Amount of Fee
Assessment Appeal Fee - residential
$100.00 per assessment roll number
Assessment Appeal Fee – multi-unit residential and Commercial
$150.00 per assessment roll number if assessment is less than 500,000
$500.00 per assessment roll number if assessment is between 500,000-1,000,000
$750.00 per assessment roll number if assessment is more than 1,000,000
If your appeal is successful, your appeal fee will be returned to you.
If you have questions about the information contained in you Notice of Assessment or feel your assessment has an error, you should first speak to an assessor. They can explain your assessment to you and describe how they arrived at the value listed. Please phone City Hall at 306-236-3622 and provide your name, phone number and the Civic Address and Roll Number (shown on the assessment notice) of the property you are calling about, and an assessor will contact you as soon as possible.
The staff at City Hall can help with questions about how to read your assessment notice, and how it has changed from prior years, but you will need to speak to an assessor to learn how your precise assessment value was calculated.
You can also get a detailed printout of your property assessment by contacting City Hall or by creating a free account for the SAMAView tool.