Course Description and Outline

CPD 127: More Than Just Assessment Appeals - The Business of Property Tax Consulting

Pre-requisite: Students will benefit from a working knowledge of appraisal theory and practices; recommend prior completion of BUSI 330 or CPD 130/131 or equivalent (e.g., Trading Services / real estate sales course).

This three-lesson course is intended to provide valuation professionals with an insight into property tax assessment, as a potential area of specialization for professional practice. The course covers the assessment appeal hearing process that in detail, as well as the activities that go on behind-the-scenes, before a hearing becomes necessary.

  • The first lesson focuses on property tax foundations, outlining the history of property taxation and assessment, the context of appraising for property tax purposes, and the specialty aspects of valuations for property assessment and tax purposes. This includes a brief overview of mass appraisal techniques, in terms of how they compare to the single-property appraisal techniques typically brought out in appeals. As well, the lesson briefly explains considerations in PILT, or payment-in-lieu-of-taxation for government-owned properties.
  • Lesson 2 explains what valuation professionals involved in property tax management do on a day-to-day basis: what is involved in managing a property tax portfolio on behalf a client; how to effectively use dispute resolution; and the preparation and execution of effective assessment appeals.
  • Lesson 3 provides several case studies to illustrate these processes, including an assessment appeal presented from the perspectives of both the assessor and appellant's appraiser.

The course is primarily aimed at those in private practice, working with property owners on property tax matters, but is also informative and practical for those working with assessment agencies to establish and defend assessments.

Course Outline

FOREWORD: Introduction to Professional Development Courses

LESSON 1: Property Tax Assessment Foundations

  • Instructor's Comments
    • Importance of Property Assessment and Taxation Advice
    • Common Assessment Jargon
    • Examples of Property Assessment Consulting Services
    • Multiple Years of Potential Benefit
    • Summary: Importance of Property Assessment and Taxation Advice
  • History of Property Taxation and Assessment
    • The Evolution of the Property Tax
  • Features of an Ideal Property Taxation System
    • Administrative Efficiency
    • Accountability
    • Neutrality
    • Fairness
    • Stable Tax Base
  • Comparing Property Tax Systems Worldwide
    • Tax Base
    • Responsibility for Payment
    • Local versus Central Administration
    • Integration of Assessment Administration
    • Administrative Policies and Capabilities
  • Elements of a Real Property Assessment System
  • Primary Tasks Performed by Assessors
  • Mass Appraisal Principles and Processes
    • Components of a Mass Appraisal System
    • Key Steps in Mass Appraisal
    • Mass Appraisal Techniques
    • Professional Standards and Mass Appraisal
  • Mass Appraisal and the Property Tax Consultant
    • Challenges in Implementing Mass Appraisal
  • Conclusion
  • Review and Discussion Questions
    • Appendix 1.1: Property Taxation by Province and Territory
    • Appendix 1.2: Excerpts from the Assessment Legislation of Canadian Provinces and Territories
    • Quick Reference Guide - Municipal Taxation

LESSON 2: Reviewing and Appealing Property Tax Assessments

  • Instructor's Comments
  • The Assessment Review Process
    • Case Study 2.1 - Review of a Waterfront Recreation Vacation Home
    • Case Study 2.2 - Portfolio Management
    • Concluding Thoughts on the Assessment Review Process
  • Appraisal Standards and Property Tax Consulting Practice
    • Case Study 2.3 - Assessment Review Business Strategy
  • Assessment Appeal Process
    • Grounds for Assessment Review or Appeal
    • Property Types and Accuracy of Assessment
    • Equity of Assessment
    • Levels of Assessment Dispute Resolution
    • Less Formal Levels of Review
    • Levels of Appeal and Cost-Benefit Thinking
    • Selected Examples of Provincial Appeal Processes
    • Role of Superior Courts
  • Appeal Processes and Procedures
    • Roles and Responsibilities of Parties
    • Settling an Appeal Without a Hearing
    • Preparing for a Hearing
  • Typical Hearing Procedures
    • Discovery
    • Opening Statements
    • Direct Examination
    • Cross-Examination
    • Re-Direct Examination
    • Re-Cross-Examination
    • Closing Statements
    • Points to Remember for the Expert Witness
  • Role of the Panel
  • PILT Dispute Resolution Processes
  • Conclusion
  • Review and Discussion Questions
    • Appendix 2.1: Freedom of Information Laws and Principles
    • Appendix 2.2: The Nature of Effective Negotiations
  • Negotiation Approaches
    • Preparation Principles
    • What Are The Issues?
    • What Are The Interests?
    • What Are the Priorities?
    • What Are Some Possible Solutions?
    • Consider Objective Standards
    • What Are Your Alternatives?
    • Know Your Resistance Point
    • Set a High Goal
    • Exchange Principles
    • Focus on Objective Standards
    • Strategic Concessions
    • Principles of Communication
    • Listen Actively
    • Relationship Principles
  • Conclusion: Negotiation Effectiveness

LESSON 3: Property Tax Consulting Case Studies

  • Instructor's Comments
  • Case Study 3.1 - Portfolio Review on Contingent Fee Basis
  • Case Study 3.2 - Negotiated Settlement in Resort Assessment
  • Case Study 3.3 - Retail Property Highest and Best Use
  • Case Study 3.4 - Industrial Property Appeal
  • Case Study 3.5 - Standard Residential Appeal
  • Case Study 3.6 - Legal Issues in Commercial Appeal
  • Case Study 3.7 - Marketing Your Expertise


  • The Final Quiz

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