FREDERICTON – Seeking to contain a festering scandal involving “thousands and thousands of errors,” New Brunswick is freezing property tax assessments and assigning the task to a new independent agency.
A whistleblower alleged in March that more than 2,000 property owners were given improper and inflated tax bills. In one case, a newlywed couple said they were stunned when their property’s assessed value doubled to $347,000 from about $170,000.
Local Government Minister Serge Rousselle said Wednesday an assessment freeze will ensure predictability while the government establishes an agency to handle assessments and Auditor General Kim MacPherson reviews the system. Her report is due later this year.
“This will allow sufficient time for government to act on the auditor general’s recommendations for the 2019 taxation year,” Rousselle said.
“For many years there have been thousands and thousands of errors and we are looking forward to have her findings and recommendations.”
That means, unless the tax rate changes, most property tax bills next year should be the same as this year.
Exceptions will be made next year for new construction, major improvements with a building permit and real estate transactions, or where a property assessment decreases due to market forces.
Premier Brian Gallant has said his government is committed to getting to the bottom of mistakes going back to 2011._