Thousands of New Brunswickers still waiting on assessment reviews as tax bills go out

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Thousands of N.B. residents still waiting on property assessments
Service New Brunswick has received about 10,000 requests for property assessment reviews – the most in seven years. But as property tax bills hit homeowner's mailboxes, only a quarter of those requests have been processed. Silas Brown explains – Mar 7, 2024

Thousands of New Brunswickers are still waiting on a review of their property assessments, even as tax bills have been sent out.

Jon Osbourne decided he would apply for a review of the assessment on his Saint John home after seeing another jump in the assessed value of his home, despite not making any major improvements. Over two years, his assessment has jumped by about $100,000.

“When we got our assessment we were shocked, it had gone up quite a bit since we had bought our house just two years ago,” he said.

“The first year we lived in it, it was worth more than we paid for it.”

But nearly a month later he’s received his bill which is about $1,000 more than it was last year, and is still waiting for his review to be complete.

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“We haven’t heard anything since,” he said.

According to a spokesperson for Service New Brunswick, the province received 9,868 requests for review, with 8,678 requiring a formal review. Of that group, just 26 per cent of reviews have been completed.

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“The timeline to have all requests for review completed will largely depend on receiving timely responses and requested information from applicants, however, our staff continue to work diligently to process review requests and we anticipate having reviews completed in late spring,” said Service NB spokesperson Jennifer Vienneau in an email.

Property owners are still expected to pay their property tax bill, even if they have an ongoing review. Should the assessment be changedm they can either receive a reimbursement or a credit on next year’s bill.

In years past there was more time allotted for reviews with assessments going out in October, but the government changed the process this year to send assessments in January and bills in March, with a February deadline to apply for a review.

Liberal leader Susan Holt says it isn’t fair to charge people while their review is still up in the air.

“The timing feels a little pressed,” Holt said. “We just got the assessments, then the property tax bills have landed. 10,000 people have lodged appeals against these assessments, those have not all be processed, and yet we want people to pay anyway? I don’t think that’s right.”

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Holt has also pitched scrapping the cost of assessment charge, a $19.40 fee per $100,000 of assessed value charged to property owners by the province.

“We thought here’s a great easy way to provide a little relief,” she said. “Let’s fix that, let’s amend the legislation surrounding this assessment fee and make sure it reflects what it is, which is a cost of service and assessment.”

Osbourne’s experience has left him feeling frustrated and wishing for more transparency in the entire property tax assessment system.

“In all the years I’ve owned a home in New Brunswick, I’ve only had someone who I knew was a property assessor come to my house once, and I’ve had it increase every year,” he said.

Figures from the province show that 41 per cent of homeowners received assessment increases of more than 10 per cent, as the province’s real estate market remains strong. The province has a spike protection mechanism in place for increases over 10 per cent, but the full balance will still be applied to tax bill in future years.

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