Quispamsis — Many New Brunswick homeowners were shocked by the drastic jump in their property tax bills this year. CBC reported that these extreme hikes were no mistake — in fact, assessment officials made up “major renovation” amounts for 2,048 homeowners, which let the government avoid the legal 10 percent cap on property tax increases.
The assessments of these homes increased by at least 20 percent and $20,000, as revealed by Service New Brunswick’s residential co-ordinator Matthew Johnson in an unearthed email to assessment officials. The email stated that there was just not enough time before the March 1 deadline to find out what renovations actually took place, and the solution was staring them in the face: they had to expand the definition of a “major renovation” if they were to legally milk homeowners for all they’re worth.
“The NCMIC (New Construction or Major Improvement Change) formal definition has been holding us back, so from now on when you’re assessing a home, even if it clearly hasn’t had much work done, you can still look for things that could bump it up by a heck of a lot of money,” read the email.
“Look for things like a new couch or chair — that’s a major improvement, if you look at it in the right way. Or how about if you see evidence that the family has had a new baby? Babies are a big change — no one could argue that.”
The email listed dozens of changes/items that should be considered major renovations. Some of these were:
-thicker grass than in previous years
-a new anthill
-a new Welcome mat
-a hole in a wall that’s been touched up
-a fresh coat of paint anywhere in the house
-any new clothing or shoes
-a stain removed from a shirt
-a new pet or new doghouse
-more than one week’s worth of groceries in fridge/cupboards
-a subscription to HBO
-a good liquor stash
“If all else fails, just make it up. If you haven’t seen major improvements or renovations, you haven’t looked hard enough,” concluded the email.
“My tax bill went up by 30 percent, and all I did was get a new futon! Most expensive futon I’ve ever bought, I tell ya what,” said Quispamsis homeowner Darren Olson. “And how could they even have known I bought it, for god’s sake? I got it on Kijiji and it looks the same as the old one, just not as stained!”
Rothesay resident Karen Holden said she received a tax bill that was almost double last year’s. It informed her that she’s been happier than ever before, and that has doubled the value of her home because of all the good vibes she’s created.
“I got divorced, so yeah, I guess I am happier than I was this time last year,” she fumed. “But how could they know that? Maybe my neighbours reported a general sense of wellbeing emanating from my property? That’s all I can think of.”