Only 5 Days left to Appeal your Nova Scotia taxes!

by Tim Harris on January 26, 2005

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Time is running out. A letter “2005 Assessment Notices” from Turner Drake. Reprinted by kind permission of Mike Turner.
Turner drake
& partners

Real Estate Counsellors, Brokers & Valuers

21 January 2005

Dear Tim,

Re: 2005 Assessment Notices – Nova Scotia

We refer to our letter of the 10th January 2005 (PDF DOWNLOAD) wherein we gave you some decision rules to help in deciding whether you should appeal your assessment. You now have less than 10 days left in which to appeal. The basis for your real estate assessment is the market value of your property on the 1st January 2003 (the base date). However even if your assessment is less than its market value on the base date, you may still have grounds on which to mount a successful appeal. Your property may be unfairly assessed because of errors in the tax assessor’s methodology or computations, or because the physical state of your property has changed. Most of the Province of Nova Scotia assessors are open to reasoned argument. They are willing to amend assessments, provided that we can demonstrate that the assessments are incorrect. Assessment is a mass appraisal process and frankly the assessors have an impossible job given their time and manpower constraints. We have identified 17 key fields in the assessment process that assessors everywhere routinely miscalculate, misinterpret or miss altogether.

If you have concerns about your assessment you should file a protective appeal utilising the following wording:

“The assessment is excessive, unfair, not uniform with other assessments, and any other grounds that may appear”.

If you wish to appoint us as your agent, please so state on your Notice of Appeal, then fax us (1-902-429-1891) a copy of your Notice of Appeal. (If you prefer, we will be glad to file the appeal for you). Before doing so, please do not hesitate to call Tom Mills , Giselle Kakamousias or Mike Turner , at 1-800-567-3033 for an estimate of the cost of proceeding with Stage 1 (the Assessment Audit).

We will need the approximate gross floor area of the buildings on your property in order to prepare the estimate. Irrespective of whether you call us, we will not undertake any work until you know what it will cost and have given us your authorisation to proceed. Once we have your authority to do so we will set in motion Stage 1 of the following process:

Stage 1 – Assessment Audit

We review the assessment and compare it with other assessments and the costing systems employed by the Assessor. We report to you by letter detailing our estimate of the correct assessment, the potential tax savings, recommended course of action, probability of success and associated cost.

The recommended course of action will usually be (1) negotiation with the Assessor, or (2) abandonment of the appeal. We will not undertake frivolous appeals. We achieve tax savings with virtually every appeal we undertake because the assessors recognise that we do not get involved unless there are genuine grounds for questioning the assessment.

Stage 2 – Negotiation

If you wish us to proceed with the appeal we will open negotiations with the Assessor. It is our experience that over 75% of all appeals in Nova Scotia can be settled by negotiation. However, if we are unable to reach a satisfactory settlement we report back to you by letter detailing our recommended course of action, the probability of its success and the associated cost.

The recommended course of action will usually be either, (1) proceed to the Appeal Board or, (2) abandonment of the appeal.

Stage 3 – Appeal Court

We will appear on your behalf to present your case before the Appeal Board.

The decision whether to proceed to each stage rests entirely with you: the potential tax savings and the probability of achieving them have to be weighed against the cost involved.

There is some danger in appealing a property which is underassessed since it leaves the opportunity open for an unscrupulous assessor to increase the assessment. In order to minimise this risk, you should notify us as soon as you file the Notice of Appeal so that we can commence our assessment audit without delay.

Please do not attempt to negotiate a reduction in assessment yourself before approaching us to do it for you. It makes it doubly difficult, raises the cost and reduces your chance of getting the tax savings you deserve. We are most successful with those cases where we are involved at the outset. We also find that clients who have successfully appealed their assessments in the past … have invariably left money on the table.

If you have any questions regarding this letter, or your assessment, Tom , Giselle or I will be glad to help you. Please give one of us a call at 1-800-567-3033 (Halifax/Dartmouth 429-1811).

Yours very truly,

TURNER DRAKE & PARTNERS LTD.

MICHAEL S. TURNER
President

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