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By Altus Group | January 14, 2019

If passed, Bill 9 could reshape the province’s tax landscape. What does it mean for commercial and industrial property owners?

What is Bill 9?
The recently tabled Bill 9, “An Act to Amend the Assessment Act” is sure to be a topic of much contention among many New Brunswick (NB) taxpayers. This proposed amendment to the Assessment Act would significantly expand on what is assessable within the province, particularly for commercial and industrial property owners. Following its first reading in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick on December 12th, taxpayers should be aware of the widespread effects it may have on the province’s tax landscape.

What are the Proposed Changes?
As it’s written, and if passed, the Bill would eliminate current exemptions of New Brunswick’s Assessment Act that are commonplace in most assessment jurisdictions in Canada. These include:

  • Structures, machinery, equipment, installations and apparatuses that are not providing shelter
  • Electric power distribution systems for machinery and equipment
  • Foundations for machinery and equipment
  • Crude oil storage tanks connected with refineries and their pipelines

What Bill 9 Could Mean for Commercial Property Owners
The most obvious effect of Bill 9 would be higher taxes imposed on a number of commercial and industrial businesses and their operations. While the bill focuses primarily on industrial property owners, it is much further reaching. One notable change is to tax machinery and equipment, which leads one to question; “where does it start?” and “where does it end?”

The interpretations of what is or is not to be included as assessable will be up for debate should this bill pass. Regardless of the intent or any perceived outcomes, the verbiage would allow for a much broader pool of what is or isn’t taxed in NB. Understandably, this would impact the realities of doing business in the province.

The Status of Bill 9
In addition to the contents, it is important to understand the status of the Bill. To date, the Bill has undergone a first reading in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. But, in order to become effective, Bill 9 would be required to pass a second reading, the committee stage, report stage, and the third reading and passage stage. This means there is opportunity for the Bill to be amended or rejected altogether. Considering the recent tumultuous political climate in NB, it is difficult to predict the most likely outcome.

What Should Property Owners Do?
Although Bill 9’s future is up for debate, it is crucial for property owners to understand it and how it may impact their taxes. For further property tax advice, reach out to one of our local Altus Group Experts in Atlantic Canada.

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