Property Assessment and Taxation in Canada: Evolution, Importance and Principles

7.00 Hours Formal CPD

Many stakeholders are not fully acquainted with the uniquely positive outcomes of the ad valorem tax system from which tax payers, local and senior government benefit.

Upcoming Classes

Course information

The aim of this in person workshop is to satisfy the need for greater depth of understanding of the real strengths and benefits that distinguish property tax from other forms of taxation. It will provide foundational knowledge about ad valorem fundamentals in three parts.

Part one: History and Evolution of Ad Valorem Taxation in Canada

This portion will explore the history of Ad Valorem assessment and taxation that has evolved into the highly respected and beneficial systems in place in Canada today.

  • History and Evolution of Ad Valorem Taxation
  • Global Perspective on Canadian Property Taxation
  • Issues and Challenges in Property Taxation and Assessment
  • Strengths and Benefits in Property Taxation and Assessment

Part two: Policy Considerations – Principles, Challenges and Issues

This portion will explore principles, challenges and issues pertaining to development of property taxation policies at senior and local government levels in Canada today.

  • Important Distinction between Tax Policy and Tax Administration
  • Need for Independent Assessment Valuation Policies
  • Policy Issues in Tax Base, Value Formula, Tax Rates, and Tax Relief and Mitigation
  • Administrative Issues in Assessment, Billing, Collection, Enforcement and Appeals

 Part three: Fundamentals of Assessment Valuation and Taxation

 This portion will explore basic premises of design and practice of assessment valuation and property taxation functioning in Canada today.

  • General Valuation and Taxation Principles of an Ad Valorem System
  • Differences between mass valuation and single property valuations in assessment
  • Current practices and issues in valuation and taxation
  • Canadian program of payments in lieu of taxes

Who should attend

Assessment staff,  stakeholders and customers, local government staff and elected officials, provincial staff and elected officials, parties related to the governance of assessment and taxation organizations and parties involved in designing taxation regulatory framework.


David Highfield 

David has recently retired as President and CEO of BC Assessment after 40 years in the assessment business. Starting as a temporary appraiser, serving as the Assessor for the Greater Vancouver Area and more recently as the Vice President responsible for all properties in BC, he has broad experience in assessment. 
David is an Accredited Appraiser (MCI) with the Appraisal Institute of Canada and holds a professional designation (RIBC) with the Real Estate Institute of BC. He has served on the Boards of a variety of business related and professional organizations and is Past President of the Appraisal Institute of Canada. He has served as a guest lecturer at the BC Institute of Technology, the Chair of the Valuers Global Forum in Washington, DC and was an active participant in the development of the UBC distance learning degree for appraisers. 

Carla Nell

Carla is currently the Vice President, Property Assessment, Taxation and Finance at Sussex Strategy Group. She has more than 27 years of experience working in both the private and public sector dealing with municipal finance, taxation and assessment matters. Throughout her career, she has provided policy support and advice to municipalities, school boards and provincial governments. Carla is the author of the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO) Assessment and Tax Manual and the monograph published by the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association (MFOA) titled Serving to Your Potential: Enhancing Strategic Influence I the Treasurer’s Office. She is a paralegal licensed by the Law Society of Ontario and has taught at the Faculty of Business at Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology I both the Public Administration and Real Property Administration programs.

Casey Brendon

Casey is currently the Director of the Revenue Services Division for the City of Toronto. Casey is responsible for property tax and utility billings for the City, and the collection of parking ticket and municipal land transfer tax revenues. Casey's background includes various positions with the City of Toronto, and various ministries within the Province of Ontario. He has also acted as a consultant to the Province of Ontario on the effects of environmental contamination on property valuation and has participated on committees and working groups on taxation and brownfield issues. Casey is a Professional Engineer, and holds degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Toronto and in Environmental Geography from the University of Western Ontario. He has been with the City since 2000. Casey joined the Board of Directors of the Ontario Municipal Tax and Revenue Association in 2011, and currently serves as OMTRA's First Vice President.

Additional information

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+1 (646) 786-8364

Learning outcomes

  • Review the history and evolution of Ad Valorem assessment and taxation
  • Recognize how history has influenced the assessment and taxation system in place in the learners jurisdiction
  • Appreciate the international recognition of Canada’s relative performance in assessment and taxation
  • Recognize the strengths and benefits of the Ad Valorem system for local government, senior government and taxpayers
  • Understand the potential threats to the principles that make the existing system effective for all parties
  • Appreciate the differences between tax policy, tax administration and within these the need for independent assessment valuation policy
  • Review relative importance, challenges and internationally recognized principles of addressing policy issues in tax base and its formula, setting of tax rates, and granting tax relief and mitigation measures
  • Recognize importance of tax administration issues in tax policy design, including property assessment, tax billing, collection, enforcement and appeals
  • Review general principles guiding valuation and taxation in ad valorem property tax system
  • Appreciate differences between mass valuation of multiple properties and single property valuation in the context of property assessment
  • Recognize current practices and issues in valuation and taxation
  • Review Canadian program of payments in lieu of property taxes including its rationale and practical issues