Saving $250,00+ in property tax

Jeff Cuzner, CBRE.

HALIFAX — After several years of operating losses, CBRE assisted a hotel client by filing an appeal on their property tax assessment. CBRE helped facilitate a substantial reduction on behalf of the client, resulting in more than $250,000 in property tax savings.

The case began before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hotel in question is an 85-90 room midscale property in a rural Atlantic Canada municipality, said Jeff Cuzner, director, property tax services for CBRE, based in Halifax. The property paid more than $500,000 per year in property tax. “We knocked that down to about $210,000, and we continue to monitor the assessment going forward.”

CBRE filed an appeal on the client’s behalf and had a number of discussions with the assessors. CBRE wanted them to use the income approach or the direct comparison approach to determine the property tax. “We looked at their financials over the last five to seven years, and tried to present a value that was more in line with what the property tax should be.”

One of the biggest problems in rural communities is that hotel properties often make up a large part of the municipal tax base, and any major reductions mean a big hit to the municipality’s bottom line.

With CBRE’s help, they moved from a cost approach to valuation to an income-based approach, which was much more reflective of how the property operates. “In a rural community, where there are no comparable, the authorities often rely on a cost approach,” said Cuzner. “While it may have cost an extraordinary amount to build the property, it can take a lot of time to recoup that cost.”

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