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Assessment Review Board FAQ's

60 Day Customer Review Period
 
You have a 60 day review period between mailing of your assessment notice and the date complaints are due, (outlined on your assessment notice) to review your assessment.  Complaints must be filed during this time period.
  
What can I do if I disagree with my property assessment?
 
You should review your assessment in comparison to what your property would likely have sold for on July 1 of the previous year. If that number is close to your assessment, then likely the assessment is fair. If you think the assessment is too high:
  1. Arrange for a meeting with the assessor by contacting the Assessment and Taxation Department or at 403 320 3950.
  2. Get a second opinion, in writing, from an appraiser or realtor who has knowledge with Lethbridge market values.
 It is important to talk to your assessor before filing a complaint.  Contact the Assessment and Taxation Department or at 403 320 3950.  If the assessment is in error, it can be amended during the 60 day Customer Review Period. 
 
If you don’t reach a resolution using the above process, you may file an assessment complaint.
 
What can I file a complaint about?
 
Your complaint may be about any of the following matters, as shown on an assessment notice:
  • An assessment
  • An assessment class
  • An assessment sub-class
  • The type of property
  • The type of improvement
  • Whether the property or business is assessable
  • Whether the property or business is exempt from taxation under Part 10 of the Municipal Government Act
  • School support*
  • The description of a property or business*
  • The name and mailing address of an assessed person or taxpayer*
 *to eliminate the need for you to file a complaint and attend a board hearing, corrections to these matters can be made by contacting  the Assessment and Taxation Department or at 403 320 3950.
 
You do not have the right to make a complaint about any tax rate or past assessment years.
 
How do I file a complaint?
 
Provincial Legislation and City Bylaws outline how complaints must be made
  • Your complaint must be submitted on the “Assessment Review Board Complaint Form” and the form must be completed in full
  • You must be the assessed owner. An Agent may file a complaint on your behalf if you, the assessed owner, complete an “Agent Authorization” form
  • Your complaint must explain why you think the information or assessed value shown on your Assessment Notice or Tax Notice is incorrect
  • You must include the correct information. If you disagree with the assessed value, you must include what you believe is the assessed value
  • The complaint form and required fee, payable to the City of Lethbridge, (see Assessment Review Bylaw) must be received together by the Assessment Review Board office no later than 4:30 pm on the deadline date indicated on your assessment notice.  Late complaints are not valid and will not be heard.  Electronic mail and faxed complaints will not be accepted. This time limit is legislated and cannot be extended. 
Filing fees are charged per roll number for the filing of complaints to the Assessment Review Board.
 
The filing fee will only be refunded when there is a change made to the issue under complaint.  The refund will be issued to the name of the applicant or company that filed the initial complaint.   Notice must be received three (3) business days prior to the hearing date in order for the ARB Clerk to refund complaint fees.
 
Attach a copy of the Assessment Notice to facilitate the process and ensure accuracy.
 
Tax Agents?
 
An agent may not file a complaint or act for an assessed person or taxpayer at a hearing unless the assessed person or taxpayer has prepared and filed with the clerk or administrator an Assessment Complaints Agent Authorization Form
 
Filing Fee?
 
Your filing fee is indicated on your Assessment Notice.  Filing fee and complaint form must accompany each other. 
 
​Property Class ​  Assessed Value​ ​  ​Fee
​​Single Family Residential ​ All Values​ ​​$30.00
​Multi-Family (4 units or more) and Non-Residential ​​​0 - $500,000 ​​$100.00
​$500,001 - $4,000,000 ​​$500.00
​Over $4,000,000 ​​$650.00
 
Deadline for filing a complaint?
 
The final date for a complaint is indicated on the Assessment Notice:  60 days from the mailing of the notice.
 
This time limit is legislated and cannot be extended.
 
The complaint form and required fee, payable to the City of Lethbridge, (see Assessment Review Board Bylaw) must be received together by the Assessment Review Board office no later than 4:30 pm on the deadline date indicated on your assessment notice.  Late complaints are not valid and will not be heard.  Electronic mail and faxed complaints will not be accepted.
 
Mail or Deliver the Complaint form and required fee to:
 
Assessment Review Board Clerk
910 4 Avenue South
2nd Floor - City Hall
Lethbridge, AB  T1J 0P6
 
If you are in the process of working with the assessment department regarding your assessment the Complaint Form and required fee must still be submitted. The appeal can be withdrawn by filling out the Withdrawal Form if a decision is made prior to the hearing date.
 
Do I get my complaint fee back if I withdraw my complaint?
 
If a complainant withdraws their complaint on agreement with the Assessor, the complainant must notify the Assessment Review Board (ARB) Clerk of their intention to withdraw by completing the Withdrawal Form.   Notice of withdrawal must be received three (3) business days prior to the hearing date in order for the ARB Clerk to refund complaint fees. 
 
If I have filed a complaint, do I still have to pay my taxes by the due date?
 
Yes, you are still required to pay your taxes.  If your payment is not received by the due date, you will be charged penalties.  If an adjustment is made to your assessment, a refund will be issued.
 
What happens after I file a complaint?
 
An Assessment representative may contact you to review your file and the reason for your complaint. If necessary, the representative may arrange to re-inspect your property.
 
A “Notice of Hearing” letter will be mailed to the complainant, the owner (if different than the complainant) and the City Assessor stating the date, time and location of your hearing as well as legislated disclosure timelines. 
 
Timelines for Disclosure of Evidence:
​Type of Board ​Complaint
Disclosure
​Respondent Disclosure

Complainant
Rebuttal​

​Local Assessment Review Board (LARB)* ​At least 21 days before the hearing date ​At least 7 days before the hearing date ​At least 3 days before the hearing date
​Composite Assessment Review Board (CARB)** ​At least 42 days before the hearing date ​ At least 14 days before the hearing date ​ At least 7 days before the hearing date
  
*Local Assessment Review Board - hears matters shown on assessment notice for residential property with three or less dwellings and farmland.
 
**Composite Assessment Review Board - hears all other matters.
 
Please read your entire Notice of Hearing letter for important information regarding your hearing. 
 
How to Prepare for Your ARB Hearing?
 
Your goal is to show proof to the board that the assessment of your property is not a fair estimate of the price your property would sell for on the market, or is not a fair estimate when compared to properties of similar value.  Remember, market value is not defined as the exact selling price of a property, but the most reasonable selling price.  Similar properties rarely sell for the same price.  However, the sale prices for similar properties will likely fall within a range of prices.  The market value of your property is within that range. 
 
Make sure that you have enough information to demonstrate to the Board that your property is similar to those you have selected as comparable properties and the assessed value of your property differs significantly from those properties. 
 
Consider the following for your presentation:
  • Explain in detail the grounds for your complaint
  • Appraisals or assessments of similar properties located in your neighbourhood
  • If you have discussed the matters of the complaint with an assessor, be sure to include a statement specifying the date and outcome of the discussion including details of any issues or facts agreed to. If you have not discussed the matters of the complaint with an assessor, specify why a discussion was not held
  • Repair estimates from a reputable contractor from physical problems (foundation is cracked, roof leaks, etc). Keep in mind not every defect will lower the value of your property. Some defects result from normal wear and tear and/or aging of your property
  • Estimates of your property’s value in the current market from a professional appraiser or realtor
  • Look for sales data on properties similar to yours (size, age) that sold close to July 1 of the previous year
  • In presenting comparisons between your property and other similar and/or comparison properties, compare features such as services, landscaping, number and size of bathrooms, basement finishing’s, fireplaces, garage/carports, outbuildings, repairs and environmental problems
  • For condo units, compare features such as the floor your unit is on, view, corner, inside or end unit, floor plan, parking, elevators and building services
  • Photographs of your property or business and other properties or businesses you are using as comparisons provide valuable support for a verbal description (photos will not be returned)
  • Maps are helpful to locate properties used in comparisons
  • You may have witnesses appear on your behalf
  • You may hire someone to represent you at the hearing (e.g., a tax agent or lawyer) or you may bring a friend or family member to assist you
  • You may want to attend a hearing beforehand to see how the process works.  Hearings are open to the public
  • Refer to Alberta Municipal Affairs publications to assist you with the complaint process
  • One hour is allotted for residential hearings
Don’t assume the assessor knows why you are unhappy with the assessment.  Contact the Assessment and Taxation Department or at 403 320 3950 and explain why you think your assessment is unfair or inaccurate as per the information you have gathered.  The assessor can change an assessment and issue a new notice if he/she agrees the original notice is not accurate.  In that case, you would not need to proceed with a hearing. 
 
You may hire someone to represent you at the hearing (tax agent Agent Authorization or lawyer) or you may bring a friend or family member to assist you. You may have someone appear on your behalf at the Hearing.  If you do, a letter of authorization is required.
 
Alberta Municipal Affairs - Guide to Preparing for your Assessment Complaint or Appeal Hearing
 
 Disclosure of Evidence?
 
Timelines are legislated and cannot be extended.
 
Prior to the hearing, all evidence must be submitted to the ARB Office and exchanged in its entirety, by both the Complainant and the City Assessor.  Please note six (6) hard copies of any evidence/information are required.  This helps the hearing to proceed fairly and without unnecessary delays.  By sharing information, both you and the assessor will have a better understanding of how to present your case to the Board.  It is also another opportunity for you and the assessor to resolve the issue before the hearing.
 
Timelines for Disclosure of Evidence:
 
​​Type of Board ​​Complaint
Disclosure
​Respondent
Disclosure
​Complainant
Rebuttal​
​​Local Assessment Review Board (LARB)* ​​At least 21 days before the hearing date ​At least 7 days before the hearing date ​At least 3 days before the hearing date
​​Composite Assessment Review Board (CARB)** ​At least 42 days before the hearing date ​At least 14 days before the hearing date ​At least 7 days before the hearing date 
 
*Local Assessment Review Board - hears matters shown on assessment notice for residential property with three or less dwellings and farmland.
 
**Composite Assessment Review Board - hears all other matters.
 
Please read your entire Notice of Hearing letter for important information regarding your hearing. 
 
Mail or Deliver Evidence to:
 
Assessment Review Board Coordinator
910 4 Avenue South
2nd floor - City Hall
Lethbridge, AB  T1J 0P6
 
The Day of the Hearing?
 
You will be introduced to the Board members and assessor.  The Hearing will begin and you will present your evidence first.  The Board and the assessor may ask you questions. Be as specific as possible. 
 
Following your presentation, the assessor will defend the assessment.  You may ask questions about the assessor's information.  The Board may also question the assessor.
 
At the close of the Hearing, you and the assessor will be asked to summarize your positions.
 
The ARB Board's Decision?
 
After the hearing is complete the Board will discuss all evidence presented and will make a decision regarding your complaint. The Board may render its decision verbally or you will receive written notification within 30 days of the Board’s decision and the reasons forming that decision.
 
Appeal of the ARB Decision?
 
Any decision made by the Assessment Review Board may be appealed to the Court of Queen's Bench within 30 days after persons notified of the hearing receive the decision.
 
Both you and The City have the right to appeal a decision of the Assessment Review Board to the Court of Queen’s Bench.  An application to appeal must be filed with the Court of Queens’s Bench within 30 days after the receipt of the ARB decision. 
 
You should note that any decision made by the ARB is for the current year's assessment only.
 
What will happen if I don't attend the Hearing?
 
Attendance is not mandatory.  However, it is recommended as you may wish to cross-examine witnesses and respond to arguments or objections made.
 
We urge you to attend your hearing as your complaint can be made stronger if you are present and available to answer any questions the Board may have.  However, if you do not attend the hearing will still take place.  The information that you have submitted will be read on your behalf. 
 
Instead of attending, you may file a written presentation with the Clerk of the Assessment Review Board.  Written presentations for LARB must be received at least three (3) days before the hearing. Written presentations for CARB must be received seven (7) days before the hearing.
 
We ask, as a courtesy, that you provide us with six copies of your written presentation and a letter indicating you will not be attending at least 24 hours prior to your hearing.
 
Postponement of Hearings?
 
Postponements will only be granted for exceptional circumstances and must be requested in writing (not verbally or by phone) to the ARB Office well in advance of the scheduled hearing.  Requests when the disclosure is due or on the hearing day (or within a close timeframe) will not be granted.  
 
What if my concerns are resolved before my Hearing date?
 
Should you reach an agreement with the Assessment and Taxation Department before your hearing date, it is not necessary for you to attend the hearing.  Please be sure to complete the necessary withdrawal form with the Assessment and Taxation Department prior to your hearing date.
 
If you wish to withdraw your complaint, a withdrawal form must be signed prior to your scheduled Hearing date.
 
If a complainant withdraws their complaint on agreement with the Assessor, the complainant must notify the Assessment Review Board (ARB) Clerk of their intention to withdraw by completing the Withdrawal Form.   Notice of withdrawal must be received three (3) business days prior to the hearing date in order for the ARB Clerk to refund complaint fees. 
 
What is the relationship between “tax” and “assessment”?
 
Too often, the terms “assessment” and “taxation” are considered to be interchangeable.  However, assessment and taxation are very different.  Although one impacts the other, each is a distinct and independent process. 
 
Assessment is the process of placing a dollar value on a property for taxation purposes.  This value is used to calculate the taxes 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.  That being said, you cannot file a complaint about your taxes, only your assessment. 
 
For information regarding your assessment, please contact the Assessment and Taxation Department or at 403 320 3950.
 
What is an Assessment Review Board (ARB)?
 
The Assessment Review Board is a quasi-judicial board with citizen board members appointed by City Council as set out in the Municipal Government Act. The Board is administered by the Legislative and Legal Services Department allowing the Boards to be kept separate and apart from the Assessment and Taxation Department.
 
Board Members must complete mandatory training offered by the Government of Alberta. They have a wide range of experience and are citizens at large. Assessment Review Boards consist of two to three members at one time.
 
They are established to adjudicate disputes between the City and you, as a resident. The role of an Appeal Board is to determine whether the grounds for an appeal can be substantiated.
 
The Assessment Review Board determines if the information found on a Notice of Assessment or Tax Notice is correct and that the assessment is fair and equitable, taking into consideration assessments of similar properties or businesses in the same municipality.
 
The Board is responsible to ensure that residents have access to a fair and impartial hearing. The Appeal Board hears evidence from the parties involved and has the authority to confirm, reverse or vary a decision.
 
Assessment Review Board Hearing Levels (ARB)
 
In 2010, the Municipal Government Act was amended and Regulation 238/2000 was replaced by Alberta Regulations 310/2009 – Matters Relating to Assessment Complaints Regulation. The result was the establishment of a Local Assessment Review Board (LARB) and a Composite Assessment Review Board (CARB).
 
Local Assessment Review Board (LARB) – Members of this board are appointed by the municipality to hear assessment complaints about residential property with up to three dwelling units or farmland.
 
Composite Assessment Review Board (CARB) – Two members of this board are appointed by the municipality and one member is appointed by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. This board hears complaints about non-residential (commercial) and residential property with four or more dwelling units. 
 
Legislation Governing the Assessment Review Board (ARB)
 
The legislation governing the Assessment Review Board is contained in revised Part 11 of the Municipal Government Act and Alberta Regulations 310/2009 – Matters Relating to Assessment Complaints. Regulation, which legislates some of the procedures that complainants must adhere to after a complaint has been filed.  Failure to comply with the legislation and related City bylaws may result in your complaint being invalid. 
 
Contact Information:
Wendy Smith, ARB Clerk
Telephone:  403 320 3030