By now, the Property Assessment Notices for 2013 to 2016 should be in the hands of property owners across the Province. From what I have seen, there are significant increases in assessments values for Norfolk County properties from the previous assessments as of January 1, 2008. Current Value Assessment values are important to all of us because, they determine our municipal taxes (ie assessed value as per the class of property x the tax rate). I should summarize some important features: * assessments will be based on current value (for this year, they will be as of January 1, 2012) but they will be phased in over 4 years (2013 to 2016) * generally, current assessment values should be the same as fair market value * the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, known by most as MPAC, is the non profit body which sets the current value assessments * MPAC has an excellent website which can be used to check neighbourhood sales and properties of interest (you can check on up to 24 properties without charge) * MPAC claims that there are 5 major factors accounting for 85% of the value; location, lot size, living area, age of the building and quality of construction * other factors include amenities like fireplaces, garages, number of bedrooms etc and it is important to note that it is the current use of the property, not the potential or speculative use * a property owner has the right to ask for a Reconsideration (similar to mediation) of the assessment or simply appeal to the Assessment Review Board but if the property is classified as residential, farm or managed forest, you must request a Reconsideration before appealing * the deadline for filing a Request for Reconsideration for 2013 is April 1, 2013 but for 2014 to 2016, it will be March 31st of each of those years * if you are not happy with the decision on the Reconsideration, you have 90 days from the notification of same to appeal to the Assessment Review Board * disputes can also be about the property classification (eg residential, farm, commercial etc.) because there are different tax rates applied depending on the classification Michael Cobb is a retired lawyer of Cobb & Jones LLP. Should you have any questions for Ask A Lawyer, please direct them to the Simcoe Reformer or ask a lawyer of your choice.