City wants Calgarians to help make property assessments more accurate

Homeowners in two wards have been asked to help Calgary ensure their property assessments are accurate — saying it's not a given that higher assessments mean higher taxes.

Gift card draw offered as an incentive to get people to check info on their house

The City of Calgary is appealing to homeowners to help make its property assessments more accurate. (CBC)

The city is asking Calgary homeowners to do their part in ensuring its annual property assessments are more accurate.

It recently mailed out a letter to 80,000 property owners in the city's central Ward 8 and southeast Ward 12, asking them to verify that the details the city has on their houses are as accurate as possible. 

"The city wants to ensure that our information for assessments every year is accurate," said Theresa Schroder, a spokesperson with the assessment department.

"That ensures equitable and fair assessments. Once you have that information, it's accurate, then we can really produce the best assessments we can for the citizens."

For the next two months, people who receive the reminder notice can call the city or go online to check their property details and make any changes if needed.

Schroder said about 12 per cent of recipients of last year's letter actually did review or update their property information.

To encourage people to check their property information, the city is offering a small incentive.

Anyone who checks their account in the next month will have their name entered into a draw for $50 gift cards that can be used at city recreation facilities. 

Schroder says 10 of the gift cards will be given away.

Honesty doesn't always mean higher taxes

When asked whether some homeowners might be reluctant to add information to their file — especially if the city doesn't have up-to-date details — she said it's not a given that a resulting higher assessment means higher property taxes.

"Not necessarily. Your assessment reflects the market value of your property. There's a lot of things that goes into making a property tax — the community you live in, features near by , if you live by a green space. Many, many factors go into that," said Schroder.

Just because a homeowner has renovated their house doesn't mean higher taxes follow.

"Sometimes, they don't impact it at all. It just makes sure we have the most accurate data on record. A lot of things go into taxes so I would not say that for sure." 

City council has approved a property tax freeze for this year. 

This year's property assessment notices were sent out by the city in January. Schroder said 4,138 people filed an appeal of their assessments by the March 6 deadline.

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