One Crescents-area senior is wondering how she’ll be able to afford her property taxes this year, after the assessed value of her home rose by 31 per cent this year.
According to BC Assessment, the value of her four-bedroom rancher increased from $345,000 in 2022 to $453,000 in 2023. According to information released by BC Assessment on Tuesday, the value of the average single-family home in Prince George grew by 12 per cent in the 2023 assessment – rising from $401,000 in 2022 to $450,000 in 2023.
Elizabeth, who asked that her last name not be used, said her family has owned the home since 1962 and she hoped to live there for as long as she was able.
“My pension only goes up between one and six per cent a year,” she said. “I won’t be able to pay my taxes. There is no… way I could pay 31 per cent more.”
The assessed value of her home, which was built in the 1940s, has more than doubled since 2015. But Elizabeth said she can’t afford to update the windows in the house, let alone make major improvements which would justify such a large increase. She suffered a major financial set back in 2005, which ate up much of her retirement savings.
“I’ve living cheque to cheque. If they keep upping my assessment, I’ll be living under a bridge,” Elizabeth said. “I’ve had some other retired people say to me, ‘Why don’t I sell it and live in an apartment?’ I don’t want that. I know where every nail in this house is.”
She also worries that she’d have to get rid of her cat if she downsized, she said.
B.C. residents have until Jan. 31 to file an appeal of their 2023 assessment. Elizabeth said she will consider appealing the assessment, but doesn’t have the means to hire an independent assessor to fight the BC Assessment decision.
“It’s an unfair way of taxing people,” she said. “Real estate is volatile, like the stock market.”
ASSESSMENT INCREASE DOESN’T EQUAL TAX INCREASE
A 31 per cent increase in assessed value does not necessarily mean Elizabeth will face a 31 per cent increase in her property tax bill in 2023.
Prince George city council will begin budget deliberations at the end of the month. The city is projecting the tax levy will need to increase 7.22 per cent to maintain services at existing levels – roughly equal to a $166 increase for an average Prince George home.
Once city council approves a city budget for 2023, city administration will prepare a tax rate bylaw which will set out the mill rates (the amount of property taxes per $1,000 of assessed value) for each property class necessary to collect the needed tax money. The calculations involved are complex, and account for things like the average increase in property values across the city and new developments adding to the tax base.
In 2022, the residential property tax rate for Prince George, including all taxes collected on behalf of the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, provincial government and other agencies, was $8.92134 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
“… (How) your assessment changes relative to the average change in your community is what may affect your property taxes,” BC Assessment deputy assessor Teria Penner said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
Properties which have increased in assessed value more than the city average will likely see property tax increases, while those which have appreciated less than the city average may see their property taxes remain relatively the same as last year or even decrease, depending on the budget and tax rate bylaws approved by city council.
Home owners may be eligible for a B.C. Home Owner Grant of up to $770, or as much as $1,045 for seniors, veterans and for people with disabilities, to reduce their property tax bill on their primary residence.