Property Taxes

The BC Assessment Authority determines the assessed value of each property each year. There are some interesting videos on the assessment process on the BC Assessment YouTube page. District Council sets the tax rates annually by adopting a Tax Rates Bylaw.  The latest tax rates bylaw can be viewed here. Tax Notices are mailed annually in May. Property owners who have not received their tax notice by the second week of June should contact the municipal office at 250-996-8233.  The District receives its property information through BC Assessment; keep your address up to date with them and we will also receive the update.  You can notify BC Assessment of an address change online (click here) or let us know at the municipal office.

Property Owners must pay their annual property taxes by the due date to avoid a 10% penalty, whether or not they receive a Property Tax Notice.

To avoid a penalty of 10%, payments and properly completed applications for the Home Owner Grant  must be received by 4:30 pm on the property tax due date, without exception. Property Tax Due Date is the first working day after July 1 each year.

Payments may be made online through financial institutions’ online payment system (RBC, CIBC and BC Credit Unions), by mail or in person at the municipal office. Mail early to avoid a 10% penalty. Post-dated cheques are accepted. Please make cheques payable to District of Fort St. James.

BC Home Owner Grant

The Home Owner Grant is a provincial subsidy program, administered by the Home Owner Grant Administration and local governments. The purpose of the Home Owner Grant Program is to reduce the burden of residential property taxes on registered owners who occupy eligible residences.

To claim the basic or additional grant, property owners must meet the eligibility requirements and complete an application form each year. The application form is located on the bottom of your tax notice. The Home Owner Grant can also be applied for online. You will need to know your Folio Number and your Access Code (both are printed on your Property Tax Notice).

It is not necessary to make a payment in order to apply for the Home Owner Grant. Applications must include your home phone number. Home Owner Grant applications that are incomplete, unclaimed, or late will result in penalty charges. Grants not claimed are considered equivalent to unpaid taxes.

BC Property Tax Deferment Program

The Province of British Columbia Property Tax Deferment Program allows home owners to defer the payment of annual municipal property taxes. To qualify for the Property Tax Deferment Program, you must:

  • Be 55 years of age or older OR a surviving spouse OR a person with disabilities as defined in the Regulations to the Land Tax Deferment Act.;
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident under the Immigration Act (Canada).
  • Have lived in British Columbia for at least one year prior to applying;
  • Apply on the home in which you live; and
  • Have a minimum equity of 25% in your home based on assessed values as determined by BC Assessment.

Annual Tax Sale

The annual tax sale is held in the form of a public auction on the last Monday in September. It is a collection tool that enables municipalities to recover outstanding property taxes. Properties with three years of outstanding taxes are auctioned to the highest bidder. Property owners have a one-year time period following the sale, in which the property can be redeemed. During that period, the property may be redeemed by paying the outstanding charges and interest.

The District is required by the Local Government Act to sell at Tax Sale all properties whose taxes have not been paid for three years. The Local Government Act gives the Collector authority to sell a property for the Upset Price which equals all outstanding taxes + penalties + interest + 5% tax sale costs + Land Title Office fees. All property sales are “as is” without warrant or guarantee by the District of Fort St. James.

Municipalities are required to advertise in a local paper not less than three times and not more than ten days prior to the Tax Sale. The legal description and street address must be published. To avoid your property being listed in this ad in the newspaper, your delinquent taxes must be paid four weeks prior to the Tax Sale date.

A public auction will be held at 10:00 am, on the last Monday in September each year in Council Chambers at the municipal office. Bidding is accepted on all properties. Prospective bidders are advised that it is their responsibility to search the title of the property in advance to determine if there are any charges registered against the property. The minimum bid is the amount of the Upset Price. If no bidding takes place within three calls by the Collector (auctioneer), the District is declared the purchaser at the Upset Price.

Full payment (by cash or cheque) must be remitted immediately. If a purchaser leaves the premises without paying, they may lose the property. If payment is not remitted, the Collector again offers the property for sale.

The Collector is required by law to search all property titles and within 90 days after Tax Sale notify all registered charge holders shown on each property.

The original owner has one year after the property is sold at Tax Sale to pay the taxes and buy back their property. This is called redemption. All registered charge holders have full right to redeem the property.

To redeem the property, the charge holder must remit the full upset price, plus interest on the purchase price at a rate set by the Province, within one year of the Tax Sale.

If the property has been sold at Tax Sale and the District has been declared the purchaser, 50% of the upset price, plus interest may be paid as an installment thus extending the redemption period by 11 months and 21 days. This applies only to property having improvements.

As soon as the property is redeemed, the Collector will refund to the Tax Sale purchaser the purchase price, plus interest to the date of redemption.

Section 421 of the Local Government Act provides that when real property is sold at Tax Sale, all rights held by the person who at the time of the sale was the owner, immediately cease to exist, except for the right of redemption, the right to bring an action to set aside the Tax Sale, and the right to possession.

The registered owner’s right of possession is subject to the purchaser’s right to bring action against the original property owner for waste (i.e. damage or destruction to the premises) and the right of the purchaser to enter onto the property to maintain it in the proper condition and to prevent waste. Damage, destruction or loss of property during the redemption period are at the risk of the purchaser. The purchaser is advised to insure his interest in the property.

If the property is not redeemed during the one year period, the Collector registers the new owner at the Land Title Office, thus cancelling all previous registered charges, except for those matters set out in Section 276(1)(c) to (g) of the Land Title Act and any lien of the Crown, an improvement district or a local district. The new owners are required to pay the property sales tax to the Provincial Sales Tax Administrator after application has been made to register in the Land Titles Office.