Officials defend property assessments

Government officials say there are no plans to change the territory's property tax system.

Government officials say there are no plans to change the territory’s property tax system.

Whitehorse lawyer Graham Lang has suggested it is time to overhaul this regime, given his findings that some Whitehorse residents pay considerably more in property tax compared with others owning homes of comparable market value. In particular, owners of mid-ranged Granger houses pay $600 more than owners of homes that fetch comparable prices in Porter Creek and Riverdale.

Assessed values are part of the equation that the city uses to determine how much property tax residents owe.

Kelly Eby, the director of the property assessment taxation branch, says he doesn’t think there is a desire for change.

The valuation process looks at the value of the land and the property’s replacement cost, less depreciation, Eby explained.

The Assessment Taxation Act guides all that. It was last amended in 2004.

“In certain areas in the city, they’re going to have higher values based on the replacement cost, less depreciation,” Eby said.

“For example in the Riverdale neighbourhood, some of the buildings there are 45 years old in comparison to a neighbourhood such as Copper Ridge where there’s new homes, to a 15 to 20-year-old home.”

He said it’s a mistake to compare the way homes are assessed with the market value.

One looks at how much the market is willing to pay for a property and the other is set out by legislation, he said.

Eby, who is the chief territorial assessor and has been assessing properties for more than 10 years, thinks the current system is the right one for the territory.

“I think the intent is to fairly distribute the taxes that individuals will pay. So, let’s say, the owner of the $800,000-valued home wherever in the city, is not paying similar to the owner of the $50,000 home in the city,” he said.

The system works in the Yukon for a number of reasons, he said.

“We don’t see huge market value changes as you may in other areas. It aids municipalities in their budgeting. It aids property owners ultimately in the taxes they pay,” he said.

“It is also very hard in areas such as Old Crow or smaller communities to develop some sort of a different approach to the valuation that would be fair and equitable to all of them.”

With so little market activity, there is no other approach to valuation that could be used, he said.

The government is working constantly to come up with the most accurate replacement value for properties, he said.

“The assessors have a great resource because they are out in the field quite a bit looking at new buildings plus they have discussions with contractors. We review lumber reporters, CPI (Consumer Price Index) and various other tools.”

Property owners also have the option of disputing their assessment.

When the notices go out every year in December, residents have 30 days to lodge a complaint.

Rural and municipal properties are assessed on alternating years.

More complaints usually come during a municipal year, Eby said.

In some cases, the sides are able to come to an agreement before having to go to a hearing in front of a review board.

“When we go to the review board, for the most part, unless we haven’t been able to communicate with the property owner, we’re comfortable in supporting the value,” Eby said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on January 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, they are asking city council for a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Parking problems predicted

Zoning amendment would create more on-street parking issues, residents say

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18.	(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

History Hunter: Kwanlin Dün — a book of history, hardship and hope

Dǎ Kwǎndur Ghày Ghàkwadîndur: Our Story in Our Words is published by… Continue reading

Most Read