Government Strengthens Property Tax Legislation for BC Independent Schools

Government Strengthens Property Tax Legislation for BC Independent Schools

May 28, 2015

The provincial government tabled legislation that will ensure fairness on property tax exemption
for all K- 12 schools in British Columbia. This proposed legislation will continue to enable students and parents to benefit from choice and flexibility in education.
Property tax exemption for independent schools is provided through three different statutes, each
providing different language on property tax exemption, leading to misunderstanding by some
municipalities on applying the permissive exemption. This proposed legislation will bring the property tax legislation into alignment for all independent schools across British Columbia.
Most independent schools have been provided with full property tax exemption since 1957 through the Community Charter under s 220 and s 224. The exemption provides a statutory exemption for the buildings and a permissive exemption for the property surrounding the buildings. In the past few years, some municipalities have been attempting to withhold the permissive exemption to independent schools in their municipality, creating an unfair situation that grants the property tax exemption to some schools but not to others.
The Federation of Independent School Associations of British Columbia is grateful to the government for proposing legislation that will continue to provide independent schools with property tax exemption, enabling all certified schools, public and independent, to be property tax exempt.
You can read more about this at: 
https://news.gov.bc.ca/stories/amendments-address-property-tax-exemptions-for-independent-schools?WT.mc_id=d4576da59bd09ccfa787072eb240ca66&WT.cg_n=HootSuite
http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2015/05/amendments-address-property-tax-exemptions-for-independent-schools.html
Here's the link to the wording of the amendments announced in the legislature this morning:
https://www.leg.bc.ca/40th4th/1st_read/gov29-1.htm
A lawyer who was consulted believes that independent schools are getting everything that FISA has asked for.  The legislation lists the items that are included in the statutory exemption and adds a caveat, "without limiting this", inferring that other educational uses of land may also be statutorily exempt.
This legislation brings the three statutes into alignment and even brings clarity to BC Assessment Authority on what property capital assets are considered to be statutorily exempt and what assets may be eligible for an additional permissive exemption. 
This is a good first step; now to go through the consultation process with UBCM before the Bill 29 can become law.
Today is another good day for independent schools in BC!