In Ontario, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) administers the property assessments used to determine property taxes. I just discovered that MPAC’s estimated area of my property is way off. However, the official Request for Reconsideration process is onerous enough that I probably won’t bother to appeal.
My fun began when my latest property assessment arrived in the mail recently. The form contains an “access key” which allows me to look up the data MPAC has about my property at their About My Property web site. This seems quite civilized. It was after poking around on this site for a while that I discovered that MPAC thinks my property is about 24% larger than it really is. My best guess is that this has cost me about $1500 in extra property taxes over the years.
The problem is that my property is not rectangular. The way MPAC estimates the width is sensible, but the estimate of depth is way high.
In a burst of optimism, I started poking around for the forms page and the particular Request for Reconsideration form relevant to me. The form begins by requesting some sensible information to identify me and my property followed by a section allowing me to explain what is wrong with my current assessment. That’s when things went off the rails for me.
The form then asks for all kinds of information about my house and property that have nothing to do with the problem that needs addressing. MPAC would have me running around measuring all the rooms in my house, calculating areas, trying to figure out what “cladding” means, and trying to decide whether the finished part of my basement is 1/2 finished or 3/4 finished.
The optimistic side of me says that MPAC will see that the property area is wrong and drop my assessment enough to save me about $125 per year. My pessimistic side says that MPAC will likely stand by their method of estimating area with some rock-solid logic like “that’s the way we do it,” and they’ll use the random answers I give to the questions I didn’t understand properly to raise my taxes.
Based on a guess of the likelihood of different outcomes if I appeal, I think my statistical savings are small, and all the effort isn’t worth it. I’ll just keep paying taxes on a big chunk of lawn that doesn’t actually exist. Congratulations to MPAC for cleverly coupling a Request for Reconsideration with an extensive request for information that is mostly irrelevant to the problem the homeowner has identified. This must cut way down on complaints; it worked on me.