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Tax Pulse by DMA Canada- Did You Know?

by DMA Staff | Jun 24, 2016

Changes Are Coming to the Ontario Assessment Review Board

The Assessment Review Board (ARB) held a session for Tax Agents and Representatives on June 20, 2016 in order to present proposed changes in the ARB appeal process for the 2017-2020 tax years. These changes fall under what the ARB has coined as ‘Active Adjudication’, whereby the ARB is pro-actively scheduling appeals and changing systemic processes in order to create administrative efficiencies. The purpose of these changes is largely to help enable the ARB to manage the volume of appeals, reduce backlog, and reduce their operational costs. The proposed changes include:

  • Staggering appeals so that some appeals will have their processes started earlier in the 4-year cycle while others begin later in the cycle;
  • Creating standardized timelines for disclosure and responses, which allows the ARB not to become involved until the end of the process where a mediation, settlement conference, or hearing would come into play;
  • Creating an Ombudsman that would administer complaints if the standardized timelines are breached;
  • Backlogged appeals from the 2013-2016 tax year cycle will be heard together with the 2017-2020 tax year appeals for the same properties;
  • Greater inclusion of municipalities in the appeal process;
  • Holding municipalities more accountable in their participation or non-participation of appeals;
  • The possibility of mandatory mediation;
  • The virtual elimination of adjournments, unless circumstances are exceptional;
  • Eliminating  the use of teleconferences for the purposes of  administrative scheduling;
  • Employing alternative forms of technology for hearing events, such as telephone conferences and video conferences.

The items above have yet not been finalized. DMA Canada will be an active participant in the advisory group that will have input into the final changes as the above items could have both positive and negative consequences. Some of the potential issues that the advisory group will be broaching include:

  • How will it be decided which appeals are started at the beginning of the cycle and which are started later?
  • How will equity be affected by the staggering of appeals?
  • Which appeals will be subject to mandatory mediation?
  • Will legal counsel need to be retained upfront to ensure that the standardized timeline is conformed with?
  • What kind of authority or jurisdiction will the Ombudsman have in order to enforce that timelines are met?

Please do not hesitate to contact your local DMA office should you have specific questions or requests.