Property taxes are the primary means by which Canadian municipalities, and Clearwater County, in particular, pay for the building and maintenance of roads and bridges; controlling agricultural pests and weeds; the provision of fire, ambulance and emergency services; seniors lodging; waste management; water and sewer services; recreation facilities, parks and campgrounds; and countless other services provided on behalf of citizens. It should be noted that about half of the property taxes levied in Clearwater County are mandated and levied on behalf of the Alberta Government to fund local schools and schools in other parts of the province.
Clearwater County's assessors work diligently to value property as fairly as possible in relation to similar property and provincial regulations and guidelines. By doing so, our goal is to distribute the annual property tax burden fairly amongst accurately assessed properties.
Why is an Assessor visiting my property?
In order to properly assess property, the Assessment Department needs to collect accurate data. When an Assessor visits your property, he/she is simply collecting this data and classifying your property (property valuation is not done during inspections). Provincial legislation states the County must re-assess properties annually. It is suggested that 20% of the properties be re-inspected annually. Having an Assessor visit your property can be a good opportunity for you to confirm that the assessment data is correct. Assessors will be more then happy to review any questions or concerns you may have regarding the assessment information.
Do I have to allow an Assessor onto my property?
Yes, as per the Municipal Government Act. However, they must provide identification and a reason for the inspection. Allowing an Assessor on your property is a great chance to know what will be assessed and to update any physical changes since last inspection. If an Assessor is denied access, the Assessor will make an estimate on the assessment from outside the property, and the property owner may lose the right to appeal.
I just bought my property, why is the assessment different?
All assessments are based upon market value. An estimate of market value is determined by average sales prices with the municipality for similar properties using comparable sales. The assessment should reflect what the property would be valued as of July 1 year prior and any physical changes as of December 31 of that year.
Why has the assessed value of my residential or commercial property changed?
There are several reasons why your assessment may have changed. If the values have changed in your area, the assessment will be adjusted to reflect the new market value of your property. Any physical changes to the property that would increase/decrease the market value will change the assessment. If your previous property assessment did not accurately reflect market value, an adjustment may have been made to correct this.
What assessment information is available to me?
The assessed value and tax totals of any property in the County are available to you at the County office during business hours. You can look at this information provided you have the legal description of the property. If you would like more detailed information about the assessment of your property, an Assessor can provide it to you at any time. Owner information is protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP), and is not available.
What can I do if I disagree with my assessment?
First, please give our Assessment Department a call to discuss your concerns (403-845-4444). If valid evidence is presented, regarding the accuracy of assessment information, we will update the county records immediately. Quite often, disagreements are the result of not understanding the assessment process. Our staff is more than willing to answer any questions you may have and will make every effort to address your concerns. If, after the Assessment Department has explained your assessment and you still have unresolved concerns, you may file a complaint with the Regional Assessment Review Board. It must be filed within 60 days from the date your assessment notice was mailed. The final date for appeal is on your assessment notice. The Regional Assessment Review Board has the authority to review your assessment and make amendments where appropriate. The Regional Assessment Review Board can hear evidence as to whether your property is assessed accurately and on an equitable basis with similar properties. Please note, it is the assessed value that can be appealed to the Regional Assessment Review Board, not the taxes.