The CSSA Property Tax Committee of BC

In 2010, Candace Watson (Canadian Self Storage Valuation Services Inc.) and Robert Madsen (VP, U-Lock Mini Storage) were appointed as Co-Chairs of the Canadian Self Storage Association British Columbia Property Tax Task Force working. Together, they are working on and prioritizing several initiatives to aid operators in ensuring that assessments and levels of taxation are understood, equitable and fair.

Their first task was meeting with BC Assessment’s Deputy Assessor Bill Dawson in Nanaimo. Bill plays a key role in BC as the person in charge of Market Value Coordination for Self Storage. As such, any relevant changes or initiatives pertaining to self storage assessments in the province would channel through Bill. Some of the issues discussed included the realization that the down economy is having an affect on self storage occupancies, rents and cap rates. Furthermore, the importance of understanding the impacts of rate discounting, difficulties in financing and failed sales transactions that BC Assessment rarely gets to study were identified and discussed. Overall, BC Assessment expressed interest in working with self storage to ensure that their assessments were accurate, consistent and fair.

In the fall of 2010, The BC Tax Task Force met with members of the Vancouver Island Self Storage Association (VISSA) where they formally presented on self storage assessments. Items discussed included important dates and processes, the different valuation approaches, keys to understanding your BC Assessment and how to self assess your site. This was a great example of insuring owners understand the process and can identify when they are being improperly or overly assessed.

In early 2011, Mr. Madsen saw an increase in calls from owners trying to better understand their assessments and make arguments for appeal. In many cases, misunderstandings of the process are all too common. Moreover, emotional arguments quite often overshadow true empirical and practical winning arguments for reduced assessments. In these cases we are happy to help. This is just one example of the initiatives the BC Tax Task Force is happy to assist with.

Another initiative being reviewed is the tax gap between commercial property rates and residential property rates. In some areas, self storage owners are paying five times more tax than residents. Clearly this is shifting a lot of the tax burden onto businesses and has made Property Tax the largest single expense beyond financing for most operators.

There is no doubt this is just the tip of the iceberg. Fortunately, there is opportunity for improvements and benefits for storage operators when it comes to issues of assessments and taxation. These issues have never been collectively addressed by an association representing self storage. We look forward to the collective assistance of self storage operators as we take on these initiatives.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Robert Madsen – Canadian Self Storage Association – BC Property Tax Committee Co-Chair at (604) 541-8538 or the CSSA at 888-898-8538.