How To Prepare For Your ARB Hearing

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Your goal is to show proof to the board that the assessment of your property is not a fair estimate of the price your property would sell for on the market, or is not a fair estimate when compared to properties of similar value.  Remember, market value is not defined as the exact selling price of a property, but the most reasonable selling price.  Similar properties rarely sell for the same price.  However, the sale prices for similar properties will likely fall within a range of prices.  The market value of your property is within that range.


Make sure that you have enough information to demonstrate to the Board that your property is similar to those you have selected as comparable properties and the assessed value of your property differs significantly from those properties.



Consider the following for your presentation:

  • Explain in detail the grounds for your complaint
  • Appraisals or assessments of similar properties located in your neighbourhood
  • If you have discussed the matters of the complaint with an assessor, be sure to include a statement specifying the date and outcome of the discussion including details of any issues or facts agreed to. If you have not discussed the matters of the complaint with an assessor, specify why a discussion was not held.
  • Repair estimates from a reputable contractor from physical problems (foundation is cracked, roof leaks, etc). Keep in mind not every defect will lower the value of your property. Some defects result from normal wear and tear and/or aging of your property.
  • Estimates of your property’s value in the current market from a professional appraiser or realtor
  • Look for sales data on properties similar to yours (size, age) that sold close to July 1 of the previous year
  • In presenting comparisons between your property and other similar and/or comparison properties, compare features such as services, landscaping, number and size of bathrooms, basement finishing’s, fireplaces, garage/carports, outbuildings, repairs and environmental problems
  • For condo units, compare features such as the floor your unit is on, view, corner, inside or end unit, floor plan, parking, elevators and building services
  • Photographs of your property or business and other properties or businesses you are using as comparisons provide valuable support for a verbal description (photos will not be returned)
  • Maps are helpful to locate properties used in comparisons
  • You may have witnesses appear on your behalf
  • You may hire someone to represent you at the hearing (e.g., a tax agent or lawyer) or you may bring a friend or family member to assist you
  • You may want to attend a hearing beforehand to see how the process works.  Hearings are open to the public
  • Refer to publications to assist you with the complaint process
  • One hour is allotted for residential hearings

Don’t assume the assessor knows why you are unhappy with the assessment.  Contact Benchmark Assessment Consultants at 403-381-0535 or 800-633-9012 and explain why you think your assessment is unfair or inaccurate as per the information you have gathered.  The assessor can change an assessment and issue a new notice if he/she agrees the original notice is not accurate.  In that case, you would not need to proceed with a hearing.


You may hire someone to represent you at the hearing (tax agent or lawyer) or you may bring a friend or family member to assist you. You may have someone appear on your behalf at the Hearing.  If you do, a letter of authorization is required. Agent Authorization Form


Alberta Municipal Affairs – Guide to Preparing for your Assessment Complaint or Appeal Hearing



Disclosure of Evidence


Timelines are legislated and cannot be extended.


Prior to the hearing, all evidence must be submitted to the ARB Office and exchanged in its entirety, by both the Complainant and the City Assessor.  Please note six (6) hard copies of any written evidence/information are required.  This helps the hearing to proceed fairly and without unnecessary delays.  By sharing information, both you and the assessor will have a better understanding of how to present your case to the Board.  It is also another opportunity for you and the assessor to resolve the issue before the hearing.


Timelines for Disclosure of Evidence:

Type of BoardComplaint
Disclosure
Respondent
Disclosure
Complainant
Rebuttal
Local Assessment Review Board (LARB)*At least 21 days before the hearing dateAt least 7 days before the hearing dateAt least 3 days before the hearing date
Composite Assessment Review Board (CARB)**At least 42 days before the hearing dateAt least 14 days before the hearing dateAt least 7 days before the hearing date

*Local Assessment Review Board – hears matters shown on assessment notice for residential property with three or less dwellings and farmland.

**Composite Assessment Review Board – hears all other matters.

Please read your entire Notice of Hearing letter for important information regarding your hearing. 


Mail or Deliver Evidence to:

Assessment Review Board Clerk

Box 88

Warner, AB, Canada, T0K 2L0


The Day of the Hearing


You will be introduced to the Board members and assessor.  The Hearing will begin and you will present your evidence first.  The Board and the assessor may ask you questions. Be as specific as possible.


Following your presentation, the assessor will defend the assessment.  You may ask questions about the assessor’s information. The Board may also question the assessor.


At the close of the Hearing, you and the assessor will be asked to summarize your positions.


The ARB Board’s Decision


After the hearing is complete the Board will discuss all evidence presented and will make a decision regarding your complaint. The Board may render its decision verbally or you will receive written notification within 30 days of the Board’s decision and the reasons forming that decision.


Appeal of the ARB Decision


Any decision made by the Assessment Review Board may be appealed to the Court of Queen’s Bench within 30 days after persons notified of the hearing receive the decision.


Both you and the Town have the right to appeal a decision of the Assessment Review Board to the Court of Queen’s Bench.  An application to appeal must be filed with the Court of Queens’s Bench within 30 days after the receipt of the ARB decision.


You should note that any decision made by the ARB is for the current year’s assessment only.


What will happen if I don’t attend the Hearing?


Attendance is not mandatory.  However, it is recommended as you may wish to cross-examine witnesses and respond to arguments or objections made.


We urge you to attend your hearing as your complaint can be made stronger if you are present and available to answer any questions the Board may have.  However, if you do not attend the hearing will still take place.  The information that you have submitted will be read on your behalf.


Instead of attending, you may file a written presentation with the Clerk of the Assessment Review Board.  Written presentations for LARB must be received at least three (3) days before the hearing. Written presentations for CARB must be received seven (7) days before the hearing.


We ask, as a courtesy, that you provide us with five copies of your written presentation and a letter indicating you will not be attending at least 24 hours prior to your hearing.


Postponement of Hearings


Postponements will only be granted for exceptional circumstances and must be requested in writing (not verbally or by phone) to the ARB Office well in advance of the scheduled hearing.  Requests when the disclosure is due or on the hearing day (or within a close timeframe) will not be granted.



What if my concerns are resolved before my Hearing Date?


Should you reach an agreement with the Assessment and Taxation Department before your hearing date, it is not necessary for you to attend the hearing.  Please be sure to complete the necessary withdrawal form with the Assessment and Taxation Department prior to your hearing date.


If you wish to withdraw your complaint, a withdrawal form must be signed prior to your scheduled Hearing date.


If a complainant withdraws their complaint on agreement with the Assessor, the complainant must notify the Assessment Review Board (ARB) Clerk of their intention to withdraw by completing the withdrawal letter.   Notice of withdrawal must be received three (3) business days prior to the hearing date in order for the ARB Clerk to refund complaint fees.