The Township of Langley Civic Facility. (Langley Advance Times files)

The Township of Langley Civic Facility. (Langley Advance Times files)

Our View: How property taxes work

You will not get a 30 per cent tax hike because home prices went up 30 per cent

With local councils working on budgets and BC Assessment’s letters about home values arriving in mailboxes, it may be time for a refresher on exactly how and why property taxes go up (or, on rare occasion, down).

With property values for a single family home in Langley Township going up 34 per cent in the last year, 39 per cent in the City, some folks who spotted that news on social media immediately went into panic mode, fearing their property taxes will go up by more than a third.

They won’t. That is not how property taxes are calculated.

Before taxes are calculated, municipal accountants adjust for the upwards and downwards swings in the average price of each type of home – house, condo, and townhouse. All else being equal, if the Township or City decides on a two, three, or four per cent tax increase, you should pay two, three, or four per cent more than you did last year, but definitely not 34 to 39 per cent more.

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There are a couple of important exceptions to this rule, however.

The most important thing to check on your BC Assessment notification is whether your home went up by more or less than the average for that type of dwelling in your town.

It’s possible your home went up by just 25 per cent or 30 per cent in value last year. If so, congratulations, you will probably pay slightly less tax than you did in 2021, even if the municipal council sees the need to increase rates a bit.

On the other hand, if your home went up in value by 45 or 50 per cent, then you could see a higher tax bill next year. It is possible to appeal your assessment if you think it is wildly off, but you must do so by Jan. 31.

In general, it’s your civic politicians who decide how much more property tax you’ll pay, not the swings of the real estate market.

– M.C.

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