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About Indigenous Communities and BC Assessment

About Indigenous Communities and BC Assessment

Federal and provincial legislation allow for Indigenous communities to assess and tax real property on Indigenous Reserves, including real property occupied by non-Indigenous people. 

BC Assessment provides assessment services to a number of Indigenous communities across the province in support of independent taxation of their reserve lands.

Learn more about BC Assessment's commitment to Indigenous communities and our customer service standards to Indigenous communities here.

Bulk electronic data
Electronic assessment data is available in bulk in various computerized formats, and is produced by jurisdiction or on a province-wide basis. Data is available in the standard Data Advice format, or can be customized to suit the needs of the customer.

Assessment Services for Indigenous communities

(This page does not apply to assessment of treaty lands.)

Indigenous Communities and Taxation of Real Estate on Reserve Lands

Federal legislation

In 1988, federal government passed amendments to the Indian Act allowing Indigenous communities to tax real property on reserve lands.  In 2006, the federal government enacted the First Nations Fiscal Management Act (“FMA”) which also authorizes Indigenous communities to carry out independent assessment and taxation on reserve lands.  Some Indigenous communities will continue to assess and tax pursuant to their powers under the Indian Act, while others have opted into the FMA assessment and taxation system.

Provincial legislation

In 1990, the government of British Columbia passed the Indian Self Government Enabling Act, which addresses Indigenous assessment and property taxation in British Columbia, under either the Indian Act or the FMA

Options

There are three options under the Indian Self Government Enabling Act for an Indigenous community to enter the property tax field:

1. Concurrent Taxation — allows Indigenous communities and local governments to share taxation.
2. Independent Taxation — allows provincial taxes to be completely removed if Indigenous communities wish to implement their own property tax system.
3. Indian District Taxation — allows Indigenous communities with Indian District status to assume duties and functions similar to those of a municipality or other authority providing local services.

All independently taxing Indigenous communities in British Columbia have chosen option 2—independent taxation. 

Indigenous communities who independently assess and tax must pass property assessment and taxation bylaws (Indian Act) or property assessment and taxation laws (FMA).  The federal First Nation Tax Commission (FNTC) supports the band as it develops the bylaws or laws and reviews them once they are completed. 

If the bylaws are passed under the Indian Act, then the federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada must approve them.  If the laws are passed under the FMA, then the FNTC is the approval body. The FNTC is also available to intervene in disputes between the taxing Indigenous community and their ratepayers, to try and facilitate an agreement.  Further information about the FNTC can be found at www.fntc.ca/main.phtml

Process for Indigenous Community Entering Real Property Assessment and Taxation

1. The Indigenous community sends a Notice of Intent to the B.C. Minister of Finance, setting out which reserve(s) will be subject to independent assessment and taxation.

2. If bylaws (or laws) are enacted by an Indigenous community before March 1 of the calendar year of the notice, the bylaws/laws can take effect in either the current year (the taxes can be collected in the next calendar year) or the next calendar year (the taxes can be collected the year after that).  If bylaws/laws are enacted after March 1, then the Indigenous community must confirm, in the notice, that the next calendar year will be the first for which the assessment laws will apply (and the taxes will be collected the year after that).

3. The Minister of Finance issues a certificate notifying other provincial tax authorities that the Indigenous community intends to proceed with independent taxation.

4. The Indigenous community submits, to FNTC, its assessment and taxation bylaws/laws.

5. FNTC reviews bylaws/laws and either approves (if laws under FMA) or refers them to Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada for approval (if bylaws under Indian Act).  Once the bylaws/laws are approved, the Indigenous community will enter independent taxation for the next taxation year or the year after that (as specified by the bylaws/laws), and BC Assessment must remove the folios (Assessment Roll numbers) from the provincial roll.

6. The Indigenous community may contract with BC Assessment, hire a tax agent, or prepare the roll itself.  If the Indigenous community contracts with BC Assessment, its assessment and taxation bylaws/laws should be provided to BC Assessment no later than July 31 to allow BC Assessment sufficient programming time to create the upcoming assessment roll for the Indigenous community.

The fee structure for basic assessment services to the Indigenous community is currently the equivalent of the BC Assessment levy amount, plus a one-time per folio set-up fee.

7. The Indigenous community prepares its tax notices based on the assessment roll and sends them to the taxpayers (typically in early summer).

Role of BC Assessment

BC Assessment is a provincial Crown corporation that produces annual assessment rolls for and sends assessment notices to all assessable properties in British Columbia. For independently assessing Indigenous communities, taxable occupiers of Indigenous lands are assessed and taxed.  Results of Indigenous assessment appeals are reflected on a subsequent roll.  Depending on the timing of the appeal process, those results may or may not be reflected prior to the Indigenous community setting its tax rates for various classes of property. 

Most property assessments in British Columbia are based on market value, which is the price an unencumbered property would sell for on July 1, if a reasonable amount of time is allowed to find a purchaser.  Many Indigenous assessment bylaws/laws require the fee simple value to be determined as if the taxably occupied property were located off the reserve. For properties that typically do not trade in the real estate market, such as major industrial plants or public utilities, BC Assessment uses special valuation procedures or rates which may be adopted by independently assessing and taxing Indigenous communities.

BC Assessment also provides additional services to independently assessing and taxing Indigenous communities, including:

• setting up initial jurisdiction coding, identification and program modifications;
• assistance in developing property and ownership
records; upgrading the integrity of existing records in cooperation with Indigenous clients;

• reviewing and suggesting modifications of bylaws or laws
  upon Indigenous community's request. First Nation bylaws or laws may
  not exactly match the Assessment Act and could
  require additional legal consultation;
• informing Indigenous communities of changes to provincial legislation and
  regulations affecting the provincial assessment
  process;
• defending assessments through the review process, 
  in accordance with the terms of the contract of
  services;
• responding to additional inquiries when tax notices are
  issued;
• preparing detailed identification, creating new
  entries, amending old entries, and coding all
  continuous structures, such as pipelines and railways
  traversing Indigenous lands; and
• other professional assessment services not covered
  under the Indian Self-Government Enabling Act.

For more information contact:

Bill Dawson
Manager, Indigenous Relations
Phone: 1-866-valueBC or 1-866-825-8322 (local 04251)
Email: firstnations@bcassessment.


Updated 11/2016
Disclaimer: Where information presented is different from legislation, legislation shall prevail.