I’m going to level with you right off the bat – you can’t actually lower the property tax rate unless you get elected to the municipal council with enough like minded citizens. That means the efforts we’re going to describe in this post all relate to how much property tax you’ll end up paying – not the rate at which you pay property tax. What does that mean? Quite simply this – you’ll want to find ways of lowering the city’s estimated valuation of your property. City estimators aren’t perfect, so it’s okay to ask them to reevaluate if your taxes are costing you too much.
The best way of lowering your property taxes is to do your research; find out whether or not the City has over-assessed the value of your home. One way of doing this is by using Winnipeg’s Property Assessment Tool. Punch in your address, then click on the property map; you’ll instantly see the valuations of other homes in your area. If your home’s assessment is dramatically different than the other homes around you, you’ve got a tool in your appeal’s arsenal. You can even click on the homes around you, checking if they have the same number of stories, basement status, bedrooms, and other features. When two very comparable properties have different assessments, it’s a good sign adjustment can be made.
You can hire an appraiser yourself to do a walkthrough of your home. Should that appraiser give a fairly different number than the City’s appraiser, it’s another good sign that you’ve got a good appeal on your hand. The appraiser should give you a detailed summary of how exactly they arrived at the number they gave; you can take that to the City in order to have them reassess your taxes.
Once you have an arsenal of information at your disposal, it’s time for the appeal. You’ll still have to pay your taxes during the appeal process; should the appeal be granted, and your property’s assessment lowered, you’ll be refunded what you overpaid, including interest. The process for the appeal can be found on the City of Winnipeg’s Appealing Your Property Assessment page.
One important thing to know is that certain categories of property are exempt from property taxes. These include churches, schools, and certain non-profits; you can request a property tax exemption if you fall under one of these categories.
With these tools in hand, you should be able to ask the City to reassess your property’s valuation and lower your property taxes. Want your property taxes to stay low? Avoid improvements that will add to the value of your home – be mindful, however, that when you sell your home, these improvements might add more value than the amount of tax paid, especially if you sell shortly after the improvements are made. Compass Accounting can help you assess how much improvement might add to your property taxes, and whether or not you should wait before improving your home.