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Greater Vancouverís Newest Parking Tax

By Brock Johnston                                 November 17, 2005 

The original version the below article was posted on BCRELinks.com on November 17, 2005. The following version was updated on December 8, 2005, following the adoption of three new bylaws regulating the parking tax at a Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Board meeting that day.

In 1998, the provincial government passed the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Act, giving TransLink the ability to tax parking based on the number of stalls within, or the size of, a parking area. TransLink is about to make use of this authority, citing a need for resources to fund transportation system improvements such as the Golden Ears Bridge.

How much is the tax?

The rate of the tax, implementation of the tax, and exemptions to the tax were finalized as three separate bylaws at a Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority meeting on December 7, 2005. These bylaws stand in the place of a parking tax bylaw adopted earlier this year, but are similar to the previous bylaw. The December 7, 2005 bylaws were adopted to ensure greater consistency with the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Amendment Act, 2005, which became law on November 24, 2005. The new bylaws also include exemptions to the parking tax that were not identified at the time the previous bylaw was adopted, and bring greater ease to the bylaw amendment process.

The December 7, 2005 GVTA bylaws set the rate of the parking tax at $1.02 per square meter, or roughly $30.00 per parking stall. While many believe that the tax will rise in the years ahead, the provincial government has set a maximum level it can reach in the GVTA Amendment Act. This maximum level is $1.43 per square meter, or $45.13 per parking stall.

The size of the parking area to be taxed has been determined by BC Assessment using a combination of aerial photos, digital mapping, municipal records and site visits. Included in the measurement of taxable parking space are areas related to or ancillary to parking, such as walkways, driveways, tollbooths and elevators. However, areas such as gated bicycle lockers and storage space will be excluded from the calculation of the parking area to be taxed.

Because the amount of the tax is a flat rate based on space, it is not linked to the assessed value of the land on which the parking is located. Thus, parking areas will be taxed, whether the parking is used or not.

Who will pay this tax?

This tax is to be implemented throughout Greater Vancouver; however, certain uses and classes of property (such as residential) will be exempt from paying the tax. TransLink notes that "as a general rule, any property wholly exempt from property tax will not be subject to parking tax". Information on the parking tax exclusions and exemptions can be found both in the December 7, 2005 GVTA bylaws and the GVTA Amendment Act .

Municipalities are responsible for collecting this tax and remitting it back to TransLink. The municipalities are allowed to include this new parking tax assessment with the notices that landowners currently receive for their property taxes. Instead of landowners receiving two tax assessments from the municipality, landowners will likely receive just one, which will include both their parking and property tax assessments. Like property tax notices, parking tax notices will be sent to the title owner of the land the parking is located on. As a result, landlords will want to review the terms of their lease agreements to determine who is responsible for this additional levy.

Implementation

The new tax will be levied effective January 1, 2006. A parking and property tax assessment will be mailed to taxpayers in late December, 2005. Commercial landlords who can recover the tax from their tenants should factor the tax into their 2006 budgets for the recovery of operating costs.

How can assessments be challenged?

The GVTA Amendment Act governs the process which must be followed to challenge a parking tax assessment. Under the GVTA Amendment Act, assessments can be challenged on the following grounds: who was assessed; the amount and type of land that has been assessed as taxable; and whether an exemption has been properly applied.

To challenge an assessment, taxpayers must file a notice of their complaint with TransLink. If the complaint is not immediately corrected by TransLink as an error or omission, the complaint will be heard by a review panel. If a taxpayer is not satisfied with the decision of a review panel, in certain cases the taxpayer may appeal to the Property Assessment Appeal Board. If the result from the Appeal Board remains unsatisfactory, the taxpayer may demand that the Appeal Board send any question of law to the B.C. Supreme Court.

Although taxpayers should not receive their parking tax assessments until early January, all notices of complaints must be filed by January 31st. As a result, it is recommended that anyone who thinks they may want to challenge their assessment file a notice of complaint in January as a measure of protection.

Challenges to property tax assessments are governed by the Assessment Act. Although the process of challenging a property tax assessment is very similar to the process of challenging a parking tax assessment, the notice of complaint that must be filed goes to different parties depending on whether the complaint is about the taxpayerís property or the parking assessment. While a parking tax notice of complaint should be filed with TransLink directly, a property assessment notice of complaint should be filed with BC Assessment. As a result, taxpayers with concerns about both their property and parking tax assessments must file two separate notices of complaint.

[Brock would like to thank Sarah Jones, an articled law student at Clark Wilson LLP, for her help in generating this piece.]

Brock Johnston
 

Related Links:

Downtown Business Improvement Association: http://www.downtownvancouver.net/work/transportation_urban.html
http://www.downtownvancouver.net/files/PDF/dvbia.strat.plan04.pdf

Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink): http://www.translink.bc.ca/ParkingTax/default.asp

BCRELinks.com is a reference service developed by the Commercial Real Estate group at Clark Wilson LLP. The information and links posted to this website should not be treated by readers as legal advice and ought not be relied upon without further, detailed legal counsel being sought.



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