The New Brunswick Real Estate Association says there may be a way for the province to avoid sending out jarring property tax bills based on miscalculations, as it did this year in the case of at least 2,400 property owners.
For years, the association has asked for changes in the New Brunswick property tax system, and now it is hoping the uproar over recent mistakes will spur the Liberal government to act.
"We want a complete overhaul of the taxation system," said Kari McBride, past president and chair of government relations for the association. "We want everything to be fair … and equitable."
The association has submitted a paper to the government that recommends basing property tax on market values, not on assessments by government officials.
"In today's market, more times than not, the assessed value is higher than the sale price," she said on Information Morning Fredericton. "The assessments are not being applied based on actual market value, which is sale price of properties."
Under the real estate group's proposal presented to earlier governments, tax would be based on what a house sold for, whether in the previous year or many years earlier. The market value of a property that exchanged hands years earlier would also reflect inflation during the time that has elapsed since the sale.
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Several groups across the province are being treated unfairly, McBride said, citing apartment owners, owners who aren't the occupants of their properties, and cottage owners.
And commercial properties also take a large hit under the New Brunswick way of taxing. McBride pointed to the finding that a commercial property in Doaktown pays 60 per cent more taxes than a commercial owner in Toronto per $100,000 of assessment.
"It's not welcoming to New Brunswick to try and create new revenues or investments in this province," she said. "We want it to be fair overall."
A break in the system
McBride said there's the system has broken, and the problems with unfairly high taxes is not new .
'It's definitely time to stand up and listen to your New Brunswickers.' - Kari McBride
"Be it an oversight in the system, a system glitch we don't really know why it's happening, but we know it needs to be fixed," she said.
McBride said the association is waiting for reaction from Finance Minister Cathy Rogers to its position paper
The association will be meeting with provincial official in April.
"Things obviously don't happen in a vacuum but that's why our proposal is a phased-in approach." she said. "It's definitely time to stand up and listen to your New Brunswickers."