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Blog by Linda M Linfoot

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How the Property Tax Rate Set


(Don't forget to claim your grant even if your lender is collecting your property tax for you.)

When the annual budget is adopted by city council for the current year, City Council passes a rating bylaw.
This bylaw sets a levy rate for every taxable parcel of land, as defined on the BC Assessment roll. This levy must be sufficient to raise enough revenue to pay all debts and obligations of the city falling due within the year.
This rate applies to each $1,000 of net taxable value by property class. This rate is referred to as the general tax levy.
The City of Vancouver is not the only government body that taxes properties in the city. Five other institutions get a portion of their annual revenue from the property base:

BC Government - for school purposes
Metro Vancouver Regional District
Municipal Finance Authority (MFA)
BC Assessment (BCA)

Vancouver City Council has no control over these other taxing authorities' levies. We also do not control the way they are distributed to properties in the city. However, to reduce the administrative cost of billing and collecting these other property taxes, the City of Vancouver includes these levies on the tax bill sent to property owners each year.

Why have my property taxes increased?

There are lots of reasons why your property taxes increase – but generally, taxes increase because:

There has been an increase in the tax rate
There has been a change in your property’s assessment value
There has been an increase in taxable value
There are new or increased utility charges
There are new cost-shared street improvements
There has been a change in your home owner grant status

Why is my tax increase higher than the council approved rate?

Many factors influence the taxes on a given property making it different from the overall percentage approved by council and reported in the media.
Each year some assessments go up more (or less) than the average and some may go down. If BC Assessment reports the average residential assessment increased by 10%, but your own assessment went up by more than 10%, it’s likely that your taxes will go up by more than the increase amount passed by City Council.

Differences in assessed values are not the only variable.

Because Vancouver uses three-year land averaging for the majority of properties, it’s not just the relative change in your current year assessment that matters, but the prior two years as well. That makes the comparison a lot more complicated.
Other taxing authorities affect the tax rate too
Another factor is that the City of Vancouver collects taxes on behalf of other groups (Schools, TransLink, BC Assessment, the Regional District, and the Municipal Finance Authority).
The rate passed by City Council is only for the General Levy line that appears on your notice.

Other charges

Other charges such as water, sewer or recycling may also appear on your notice, but are not included in the general levy, which is the number most often reported in the media.