By Peter Borszcz / Taxes /

Property taxes are adjusted by your lawyer when a property is transferred.  Property taxes are charged to the property (as opposed to the owner), therefore if there is a property tax bill which remains unpaid from a former owner, the current owner is liable to pay it.

Each year property owners are liable to pay property taxes to the “taxation authority” appointed by the government of British Columbia, which in urban areas is the local municipality and in rural areas will be the Ministry of Finance.

Property taxes are levied against residential property based on the Land value and the Improvement value, as published in January each year by BC Assessment, which are based on the data collect up until the previous July. Your “Assessed Value” is often used by bankers and realtors to assist them in determining the value of your property; however it is only one piece of information.  If you feel that your BC Assessment value to too high, and you feel your property taxes are too high as a result, you may wish to File a Notice of Complaint with the local BC Assessment Office.

Property Tax Notices are mailed out by your taxation authority during the first week of May.  These notices are sent out to the property address noted on your land title. Even, if your address is incorrect on title and therefore you do not receive your Property Tax Notice, you are still liable to pay your Property Taxes.  If you need to change your address on title, contact your lawyer.

Taxes MUST be paid before the deadline for payment in your area or a substantial penalty will be assessed.

MunicipalityDeadline for Payment*Penalty for Late Payment*
City of KelownaFirst working day after July 1.(July 2, 2012)5% immediately, additional 5% over 30 days
District of West KelownaJuly 7th, 2012 (set every year)10% immediately
Westbank First Nation[TBA][TBA]
District of Lake CountryFirst working day after July 1.(July 2, 2012)10% immediately
District of PeachlandFirst working day after July 1.(July 2, 2012)10% immediatley
Rural AreasFirst working day after July 1.(July 2, 2012)5% immediately, additional 5% over 90 days

*deadline and penalties may change from time to time.

Home Owners Grant

Most Home Owners are eligible for a home owners grant on their primary residence if they are a BC resident and they are the owner or occupant of an eligible residence and live in it as their principal residence at the time they submit the signed application form that is found on the bottom of the tax notice.

On freehold lands in the Okanagan (including the NRAH Benefit), the basic grant available is $770 and the additional grant available is $1070.

On Westbank First Nations lands (the NRAH Benefit does not apply), the basic grant available is $570 and the additional grant available is $870.

Important Note: Even if you cannot pay your property taxes in full on the deadline, it is important to claim your Home Owners Grant as the penalty you incur will be reduced.

If you are unable to pay your taxes, government assistance may be available if you are a senior or you are supporting a dependant child.

Peter Borszcz is a Real Estate Lawyer and Business Lawyer practicing in Kelowna, BC in the law firm of Montgomery Miles & Stone Law Firm.