The Municipal Government Act provides a complaints and appeals system for property owners who have concerns about their assessment.
Prior to filing a complaint, property owners are encouraged to contact the assessor to review the issue. If the property owner determines that the issue has not been resolved, they have the option to file a written complaint with, depending on the type of property, the municipality’s assessment review board (ARB) or the Municipal Government Board (MGB).
The type of property the complaint is about will determine the type of board that will hear the complaint.
|Local Assessment Review Board (LARB)||
Residential property with three or fewer dwelling units
|Appointed by the municipality|
|Composite Assessment Review Board (CARB)||
Residential property with four or more dwelling units
Regulated properties except for farmland and linear
Two members appointed by the municipality
One member appointed by the Minister of Municipal Affairs
|Municipal Government Board (MGB)||
Three persons drawn from a pool of provincially appointed members
Assessment review boards and the Municipal Government Board are quasi-judicial administrative boards that are created, empowered, and staffed according to legislation in the Municipal Government Act. The boards have the power to order a change to the assessment of a property.
Regional assessment review boards
In order to promote efficiency and cooperation between municipalities, the Municipal Government Act permits a group of municipalities to establish a regional assessment review board (ARB). A regional ARB will serve a number of neighbouring municipalities to oversee complaints dedicated to LARBs or CARBs.
Regional assessment review boards are sometimes considered advantageous as they eliminate the training requirements for each municipality’s ARB, may offer a more professional board due to qualifications and experience, and allow municipalities to share the costs and resources to conduct ARB hearings. Depending on the structure, a regional ARB can remove issues of local bias by ensuring that board members do not oversee complaints on properties that are within their own municipality of residence.
The size of a regional ARB is dependent on the number of municipalities that choose to partner. It can be as small as two municipalities or may be as large as the Central Alberta Regional Assessment Review Board which has 21 member municipalities.
A complaint may be filed about:
- The description of the property or business
- The name or mailing address of an assessed person or taxpayer
- Assessment amount
- Assessment class
- Assessment sub-class
- The type of property
- The type of improvement
- School support
- Whether the property or business is assessable
- Whether the property or business is exempt from taxation
The assessment review board cannot hear complaints about the amount of property taxes or tax rates. Assessment review boards cannot change the tax rates or services provided by a municipality. If a property owner has specific concerns about these issues, he or she may discuss them with the municipality’s administration or council.
How to file a complaint
Complaints must be filed in the form prescribed in the regulations on or before the deadline shown on the assessment notice. Municipalities must provide property owners a minimum of 60 days to file a complaint.
Impact of assessment complaint decisions
Any decision of an assessment review board only applies to the current year’s assessment. A decision will not apply to previous assessments or the next year’s assessment.
Property owners also have the option to file a complaint on any supplementary assessment notices. Deadlines and details can be found on the supplementary assessment notice.
Disagreement with the decision of a complaint board
If the property owner believes that a complaint board has made an error in law or jurisdiction with its decision, they may appeal that decision to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.
Training requirements to be a member of an assessment review board
To be a member of an assessment review board, appointed members must obtain certification in Alberta that involves training in:
- Administrative law principles such as ethics, procedural fairness and legislative authority and jurisdiction;
- Assessment complaint process such as evidence and disclosure, the role of board members, and practical and procedural issues;
- Process to make and issue written decisions; and
- Background on property assessment practices.
Board members must also complete a refresher course every three years to maintain their certification.