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Property Tax Litigation in Ontario – When Do I Need a Lawyer?


Property owners who challenge their municipal property tax assessments in Toronto or elsewhere in Ontario find themselves facing an uphill battle. They are challenging the “expertise” of the province’s assessment professionals in front of the Assessment Review Board, a Board the assessors are very familiar with. I am often asked when is the right time to hire a lawyer.

The answer depends on the circumstances of the particular case. Here are some things to consider then deciding if you need a lawyer in your dispute with MPAC or a municipality:

  • Is my property a residential, multi-residential, commercial or industrial property? – Some properties are more complicated to value than others. Things like current use, highest and best use, approved development, age and depreciation are all factors that complicate the process.

  • How much money is on the line? – How much will the increase in assessment translate into an increase in property tax? Is my property subject to capping? Will the increase remove the capping?

  • Has MPAC or the municipality engaged a lawyer of their own?

  • How much push-back are you getting from MPAC or the municipality?

    In many property tax disputes owners initially engage a tax consultant. We, the lawyers, get involved when MPAC or the municipality push back against the consultant. We do not replace the consultant, rather, we work together as we require their valuation expertise as evidence in our case. In other words, we handle the law and the consultant handles the technical aspects of the assessment. In some circumstances, such as an appeal or a tax exemption dispute, only lawyers can act on your behalf.

    If you are currently involved in property tax or assessment litigation, ask your consultant if it is time to hire a lawyer. If you do not yet have a consultant, contact us and we are happy to discuss your case and advise you on what would work best for you.

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