Property Tax Frequently Asked Questions
Annual Property Tax
- I didn't receive my tax notice. What should I do?
- Why do I pay school tax?
- Can I appeal my taxes when I receive my annual property tax notice?
- Why do I pay taxes for services I don't use?
- Why did my property taxes increase?
- Can I defer my utility user fees?
- Can I defer my taxes if I rent out part of my home or run a small business from my home?
- Can I still apply to defer my taxes after the property tax due date?
- Is tax charged when no money changes hands?
- Didn't my mortgage company pay the tax for me?
- Do I pay tax when I transfer my property title to my corporation?
- How does the tax apply to transfers between joint tenants?
- How does the tax apply to split transfers?
- How does the tax apply to manufactured, mobile or modular homes?
- Can I re-qualify as a first time home buyer?
- Do I qualify for the First Time Home Buyers Program if I've owned a mobile home?
Annual Property Tax
In a rural area, you should receive your tax notice by mid-June. You will be charged late payment penalties for any unpaid taxes after the due date, even if you did not receive your notice. A copy tax notice can be requested between June 1 and September 30.
Why do I pay school tax?
The education system benefits all B.C. Residents including people without children in school. School tax is charged to all property owners and isn't based on your use of the public or private school system. You pay school tax to share in the cost of providing education in B.C.
You are required to pay school tax on each property you own unless the property qualifies for an exemption or credit.
Can I appeal my taxes when I receive my annual property tax notice?
No, your property taxes cannot be appealed. However, if you notice an issue or have a question about your property assessment, contact BC Assessment to discuss your concerns. If your concerns are not resolved, an independent appeal process exists to have your assessment reviewed. The first level of appeal is to the Property Assessment Review Panel (PARP).
Why do I pay taxes for services I don't use?
All property owners within the service area share the cost of the service through property taxes. If the service is available, you are required to support the service.
For example, if a fire protection service is created and your property is within an area that would receive a timely emergency response from that service, you are required to support it.
- your property's assessed value increased
- your property classification changed
- local services were established or changed
- your property is no longer in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR)
If you believe the classification of your property is incorrect, contact BC Assessment.
Your assessed value increased
Most taxes are based on the assessed value of your property. The assessed value of your property can be affected by changes such as:
- market fluctuations
- change of use
- new buildings or developments
Your property classification changed
Exemptions you qualify for and the tax rate you are charged vary based on the classification of your property. For example, if your property was classified as farm land one year but as residential property the next, your taxes would substantially increase.
Local services were established or changed
If there is a new local service or change to an existing local service in the area, property taxes often will increase to fund the service. For example, fire protection, recreational facilities, water and sewer systems are all services that may result in higher taxes.
Your property is no longer in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR)
If your property was removed from the ALR, you will no longer qualify for the Agricultural Land Reserve Exemption that reduces the amount you pay for school tax and local services.
Can I defer my utility user fees?
You can't defer the cost for services or your usage of a service. However, if you are billed a parcel tax for the structure (e.g. a sewer) or improvement of the infrastructure you may be able to defer the taxes.
Can I defer my taxes if I rent out part of my home or run a small business from my home?
Yes, you can defer the portion of your taxes that are classified as residential (class 01). If your property assessment for your principal residence is class 01 (residential) and class 06 (business), the class 01 portion can be deferred but you must pay taxes on the class 06 portion.
- pay any late payment penalties and interest
- pay any previous years taxes and utility user fees
- apply for the home owner grant (if you qualify)
Property Transfer Tax
Is tax charged when no money changes hands?
Yes, tax is charged on the fair market value at the date of registration regardless of the purchase price, unless you qualify for an exemption. For example, some transactions that are taxed even when no money changes hands may include:
- gift of property
- change from tenancy in common to joint tenancy or vice versa
- transfer of property between a company and its shareholders
Didn't my mortgage company pay the tax for me?
No, Property Transfer Tax is a one-time tax that is payable when a change in ownership is registered at the Land Title Office.
Your mortgage company may pay your annual property taxes for you through your mortgage agreement; however, this is a different tax. Annual property taxes are paid annually when you own or lease a property or manufactured home in B.C. to fund local programs and services.
Do I pay tax when I transfer my property title to my corporation?
Yes, tax is charged based on the fair market value of the interest transferred as of the date of registration when you transfer property:
- between associated corporations
- from you to your corporation
- from your corporation to you
How does the tax apply to transfers between joint tenants?
If a registered fee-simple ownership of a property is held in joint tenancy, tax is charged on the portion of the interest in the property being transferred.
For example, Mary and John are former spouses and own a property as joint tenants. They wish to transfer John's interest in the property to Charles, so that Mary and Charles will now hold the registered fee simple ownership of the property as joint tenants.
Mary's interest in the property has not changed as a result of the transfer. The tax is charged based on the transfer of a 50% interest in the property from John to Charles. If John and Charles are related (such as father and son), the transfer of the 50% interest from John to Charles may qualify for an exemption.
How does the tax apply to split transfers?
Property Transfer Tax applies to each registration of a transfer of land. One Land Title Office transfer form containing one certificate of title number is considered to be one taxable transaction.
Sometimes individuals and corporate taxpayers split the transfer of a single property to take advantage of the lower rate of tax provided for transfers with a fair market value under $200,000. However, if one certificate of title is registered, regardless of how many transferees are registered on the title, that transaction will be seen as one transaction for tax purposes.
Even if separate title numbers exist, there are four common situations where the transactions are combined and taxed as one:
- split transactions involving one transferee
- split transactions involving related individual transferees
- split transactions involving associated corporations
There rules apply to any split transactions occurring within 6 months of the initial registration. Please see Bulletin PTT 014 (PDF) for more information.
How does the tax apply to manufactured, mobile or modular homes?
If the home is considered a fixture of the property you need to pay property transfer tax. Criteria for determining if the home is considered a fixture (degree of permanence or affixation to the land) include:
- The degree of affixation to the land
- The degree and extent of attachment to the municipal services (e.g. light, water)
- The visible physical improvements (e.g. adds-on such as stairs, porch, deck)
- The degree of permanence:
- Is it inhabitable?
- Does it offer a more permanent accommodation or is it used on a temporary basis?
- Does it still have its wheels or have they been removed?
- How is it perceived by an objective potential purchaser and/or by "others"?
- Can it be moved off the property without causing damage to the foundation and/or home? (Damage here can also be interpreted as structural modifications to the home, i.e. splitting it in half.)
In order to determine if the home is taxable, facts specific to the property must be reviewed against the common law.
Can I re-qualify as a first time home buyer?
No, you can’t re-qualify as a first time home buyer. This rule may be different from other federal programs for first time home buyers (e.g. the Canada Revenue Agency Home Buyers’ Plan).
Do I qualify for the First Time Home Buyers Program if I've owned a mobile home?
You may qualify for the program only if the mobile home was located on a rental pad and you didn't own the land.