Tax assessment system baffles Saint John developer

A Saint John developer claims New Brunswick's property tax assessment system isn't a system at all and is costing homeowners a lot of money.

Doug Robinson thinks many people are paying too much property tax

A Saint John developer claims New Brunswick's property tax assessment system isn't a system at all and is costing homeowners a lot of money.

Doug Robinson can't understand why the province raised the assessment on a pair of Millidgeville building lots he owns to $72,000, from $42,000. He appealed, and the assessed value was dropped to $42,000.

Saint John developer Doug Robinson can't see any logic in the province's tax assessment system. (Connell Smith / CBC)
"So if I don't appeal it then they've picked my pocket and took some more money," said Robinson. "But I don't have a system in place that I can go to and say, `I can see you raised it to 70 and I can see why.' There's nothing there."

Robinson says assessors also dropped the value of another lot he owns to $40,000 less than an identical adjacent lot. He's grateful, but he says it makes no sense.

He thinks many people are paying too much money.

"I'm not in this to make it better for me," he said. "And I don't even need my name printed, I don't need any of that.

"I just think the system sucks the way it is right now. It's wrong. It's wrong for everybody."

Shawn Peterson, who keeps a close watch on on the assessment system for his propertize.ca website, says he isn't surprised.

"There's probably a lot of houses that still are over-assessed," said Peterson. "And they need to go through the appeals process. And I don't think people are taking advantage of that."

Peterson says assessors only have the staff to look at a property once every 10 years.

In a statement, Service New Brunswick says it's not practical to physically inspect and individually appraise each property annually.

Assessments are set annually, based on their market value and standard mass-appraisal techniques, SNB said.

The methods include grouping properties by neighbourhood and home type.

Market adjustments are determined by reviewing and analyzing various data, including sales of properties in the area, construction costs, economic conditions, vacancy rates and the age and style of houses.

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