Property Tax

The amount of property tax owing on your land and/or building is the result of a calculation based on several factors:

  • The market value assessment of your property;
  • The tax class into which your property falls;
  • The municipal tax rate for that class (set annually by your City Council);
  • The county tax rate for that class (set annually by County Council);
  • The tax rate for the Education (school support) portion of that class (set annually by the Province of Ontario).

Property tax in the City of Owen Sound is billed twice a year. There are four due dates:

  • February 28th, 2023;
  • April 28th, 2023;
  • June  TBD;
  • September TBD.

The 2022 Tax Rates are available for your reference. 

The amount owing in February and April is charged on the Interim Billing. The Interim Billing is an amount equal to 50% of the previous year's property tax rate multiplied by the previous year's annualized assessment value.

The amount owing in June and September is charged on the Final Billing. This Final Billing reflects the new tax rate determined by City Council and County Council in support of their annual budgets, less the amount billed on the Interim. 
*Please retain your final bill for income tax purposes. Reprints may be obtained by the property owner and will be subject to a $15.00 fee.

A Supplementary (or Additional) tax bill may be issued as we receive information that changes the assessed value or the tax class of a property. The most common example of this is the completed construction of a new home. The taxes billed prior to the building of the home are generally for the land only. When the home is complete, and we are advised of the assessed value, a 'supplementary' tax bill will be created to reflect the amount of taxes due for the 'house' portion of the property. A supplementary tax bill is usually due in one instalment, 21 days after the generation of the bill. Future tax bills will be issued as above.

Property Tax Relief Programs

Heritage Property Tax Relief Guidelines

In 2009, the City of Owen Sound introduced a Heritage Property Tax Relief Program to offer tax relief to owners of heritage properties to help maintain and restore these unique and valuable resources. An eligible heritage property must be designated as a property of cultural heritage value or interest under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (an individual property designation) or under Part V of the Act (heritage conservation district), and must pay municipal property taxes. 

The amount of the heritage tax relief shall be 20% of the taxes for municipal and education purposes levied on eligible residential and commercial properties. The program will provide ongoing relief for up to 5 years, as long as the property owner complies with their obligations under the terms and conditions of the program. 

The owners of eligible heritage properties must apply every year, between January 1 and no later than the last day of May after the year for which the owner is seeking relief (i.e. May 31, 2023 for the tax year 2022); payouts will be within 120 days of receiving a completed application. Based on participation adherence through City monitoring, a rebate cheque will automatically be issued on an annual basis for the set duration of the Agreement, providing the eligible refund amount is equal to or greater than $250.

If you require further information regarding this program, please contact the Planning and Heritage Division.

Vacant Properties 

On April 19, 2021, City Council passed Resolution No. R-210419-017 directing staff to bring forward a by-law to eliminate the City's vacancy rebate program, beginning with rebate applications for the 2021 tax year, in consideration of staff report CR-21-021 presented to the Corporate Services Committee on March 25, 2021.

In accordance with subsection 364(1.1) of the Municipal Act, no program will be maintained, and no rebates will be made under Section 364 of that Act for 2021 or any subsequent taxation years.

Review By-law No. 2021-054 regarding Opt-out of the Vacant Unit Rebate Program under section 364 of the Municipal Act2001 for more information.

Tax Rebate for Low-Income Seniors or Low-Income Persons with Disabilities 

Under the County of Grey By-Law 5112-21 a tax rebate is provided to eligible low-income seniors or low-income persons with disabilities.  The relief provided to an eligible person is the lesser of the amount of the year over year tax increase or $500.  To apply, fill out the application form and return it to the tax office.

Applications must be received by December 31 annually to qualify for the rebate.

Registered Charities and Similar Organizations 

Charities and Non-Profit Organizations are eligible for reduced property taxes.

Requirements:

  • Must be a registered charity as defined in s.248(1) of the Income Tax Act (Canada) and have a registration number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Property must be in one of the commercial or industrial property classes. 

Current legislation requires Council to rebate a minimum of 40% of total property taxes payable by a charity and permits rebates of between 0% and 100% to organizations deemed to be similar to a charity.

Review the Charity Rebate Application or contact the tax office at 519-376-4440 ext. 1249 to determine your eligibility for a charitable rebate.

Applications will be accepted between January 1 and February 28 of the following year.

Charity Rebate Application Form

How to Pay your Tax Bill

The City of Owen Sound has a number of options available to our customers for payment of your tax bill:

  • In person: At City Hall during normal business hours. We accept payment by cheque, cash, or debit.
  • Cheques: Cheques may be dropped in the after hours drop box located at the front door of City Hall - please include the detachable portion of your bill. We recommend that you place your cheque in a sealed envelope with 'tax billing' written upon it. Please do not place cash in the drop box.
  • At your bank or trust company: Pay at the teller or through an ATM. You are responsible to pay any service charges levied by them. Please take the entire bill with you.
  • Internet/telephone banking: Most financial institutions offer the "City of Owen Sound" or "Owen Sound City" as one of their payments. Be sure to pick "Taxes" and not water to ensure that your payment is applied to the correct account.
  • Mail: You may mail your cheque to City Hall - please include the detachable portion of the bill.
    City of Owen Sound - Property Tax Department 
    808 2nd Avenue East
    Owen Sound, ON N4K 2H4
  • Pre-authorized payment (PAD) plan: Payments are automatically deducted from your bank account on the due date of each bill.
  • Credit card: Payments may be completed through Paymentus. This secure, third-party online payment provider accepts Visa, Mastercard and American Express for a convenience fee.
    Online: Paymentus
    Over the phone: 1-888-253-8916
    Guidelines: 
    • There is a processing fee of 2.5% for credit card transactions.
    • The maximum payment is $5,000.00 per transaction. Multiple payments can be made as separate transactions towards your account.
    • Please allow up to two business days for processing.
    • You will receive an e-mail confirmation of payment for online payments or a confirmation number by phone.
    • You will need your 11 digit roll number to make a payment.

Payment must be received at City Hall by the due date to avoid penalty. A late payment charge of 1.25% is calculated on the amount outstanding and will be added to the property tax account on the first of each month.

For more information, questions, or comments please contact our Property Tax Collector at 519-376-4440 ext. 1249 or tax@owensound.ca.

Pre-Authorized Debit (PAD) Enrolment

The City of Owen Sound currently offers three (3) Pre-Authorized Debit (PAD) Plans as convenient ways for you to pay your property taxes. Benefits of enrolling in one of our PAD Plans include:

  • The elimination of postage cost and/or the expense and inconvenience of delivering payments to our office.
  • No worrying about missing due dates or incurring late payment charges.
  • No more standing in long line-ups.
  • No service charges or fees to participate in any of our PAD plans.
  • Our "Monthly Budget" PAD plans allow you to budget and pay your property taxes over a 10 or 12 month period.
  • Once registered in one of our PAD plans, your enrolment in subsequent years will be automatic.
  • Properties in ALL Tax Classes can be enrolled in any of our PAD plans.

To be eligible to enroll in any of our PAD plans: 

  • There must be no outstanding arrears on your tax account; and
  • Your taxes must not be included with your mortgage payments and paid by your mortgage company.

To enroll in one of our PAD plans, complete our online form or print and sign our pre-authorized debit plan PDF and return to us with an unsigned blank cheque marked VOID. Please complete forms a minimum of 10 working days prior to a scheduled payment. 

Plan Options

Option 1: Installment Plan (4 payments per year)

If this plan is selected, the full amount of each tax installment is the amount that is withdrawn from a participant's bank account on the instalment date (four times per year).

Option 2: Monthly Plan (10 payments per year)

Our '10 Month Budget' PAD Plan allows your property taxes to be paid over 10 months (January to October).

  • Your 10 monthly payments will be due on the last business day of each month.
  • Your January to June monthly payments will be based on your previous year's tax levy plus an additional 3% (the extra amount allows for an anticipated tax increase for the current year).
  • You will be notified in June or early July what your remaining four payment amounts will be, as your July through October monthly payments will be adjusted to reflect any change in your current year's total tax levy.
  • In December, a letter will be mailed to our 'Monthly Budget' PAD Plan participants advising them what their next year's January to June monthly payments will be.

Option 3: Monthly Plan (12 payments per year)

Our '12 Month Budget' PAD Plan allows your property taxes to be paid over 12 months (January to December).

  • Your 12 monthly payments will be due on the 15th of every month.
  • Your January to June monthly payments will be based on your previous year's tax levy plus an additional 3% (the extra amount allows for an anticipated tax increase for the current year).
  • You will be notified in June or early July what your remaining six payment amounts will be, as your July through December monthly payments will be adjusted to reflect any change in your current year's total tax levy.
  • In December a letter will be mailed to our 'Monthly Budget' PAD Plan participants advising them what their next year's January to June monthly payments will be.

FAQ

What if I have a returned payment? 

A Returned Item Notification will be sent advising of any payment that is dishonoured (for any reason) and returned by your financial institution. Your replacement payment will include an administration fee and a 1.25% penalty charge.

If your replacement payment is not received by the specified date requested, your next instalment withdrawal amount will include our requested replacement amount (plus any additional penalty charges incurred) as well as your next payment amount.

Subscribers to any of our PAD plans who have two payments returned during a tax year may become ineligible to continue on their plan, and will be subject to our standard penalty and interest charges for late payment of 1.25% per month until paid.

What if I sell my house and buy another house? 

Our pre-authorized debit (PAD) plans are NON-TRANSFERABLE.

When you sell your home and purchase another home you must do two things:

  1. Firstly, YOU MUST withdraw from your existing plan by notifying our Tax Department in writing at least 10 DAYS BEFORE the closing date of the sale of your home; and
  2. Secondly, YOU MUST complete a new application for the new home that you are purchasing.

Upon cancellation from any of our PAD Plans, all unpaid taxes become due and will be subject to a penalty charge of 1.25% on the first day of the following month and each month, thereafter, until paid.

What if I receive a supplemental tax bill? 

Instalments noted on Supplemental Tax Bills will not be withdrawn automatically from your bank account under our PAD Plans. You must personally pay all Supplemental Tax Bill instalments on or before the due dates noted on the bills. If you fail to pay the instalments on or before their due dates you will incur penalty charges and you may lose your enrollment privilege to the PAD Plan.

What if a 'miscellaneous charge' is added to my tax account? 

If a 'miscellaneous charge' such as Weed Cutting Charges or Water Billing arrears are added to your tax account, these 'add-on' amounts (and all penalty charges that you may have incurred) will be added to your next scheduled PAD payment (unless you made arrangements to pay the 'add-on' charge over-the-counter or with a personal cheque by mail before your next pre-authorized payment is to be processed).

Paperless Billing (E-Billing) Enrolment

You can now receive your property tax bill electronically by email. Property Tax e-billing offers a convenient, timely, effective, and environmentally friendly way to receive your bills. These e-bills will look the same as your current paper copy and your billing and due dates will remain the same.

If you would like to enroll, please complete the paperless billing enrolment form. You will no longer receive a paper copy of your bill.

Tax Forms (Banking Change, Pre-Authorization Cancellation, Mailing Address Change and Moving Request)

Forms are fillable and can be emailed to tax@owensound.ca, mailed to City Hall, or dropped off in person to City Hall.

Banking Information Change

If you are currently enrolled into our pre-authorized debit plan and wish to update your banking information, a Banking information Change Request form must be submitted along with a new void cheque. 

Pre-Authorization Cancellation

If you would like to end your enrollment in our pre-authorized debit plan for tax billing, please return the completed Pre-Authorization Cancellation form to us at least 10 days prior to your next due date.

Mailing Address Change

Do you own property in Owen Sound, but would like your tax (and water) bill to be mailed to an alternative address? 
Please fill out a Mailing Address Change Request form.

Moving

If you're moving houses, please notify the property tax department by completing the Online Move Request Form.  You can also schedule your final water meter reading via this form.

Property Inquiry Request Form

Complete the Property Inquiry Request Form and submit your cheque via mail or drop off in person at City Hall at 808 2nd Avenue East, Owen Sound, ON N4K 2H4.  

Property Inquiry Request Form

Property Sale/Purchase Form

If you are purchasing or selling a property within Owen Sound, please complete the Property Sale/Purchase Form.

Please advise us of your upcoming move at least 14 days prior to the closing date.

Property Assessment Information

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) is responsible for assessing and classifying all properties in Ontario. Every four years, MPAC conducts a province-wide assessment update, and a Property Assessment Notice is issued to every property owner.

In order to see detailed information on your property's assessment, please visit MPAC's online tool - About My Property.

For further questions on property assessment, taxpayers are encouraged to contact MPAC by either phone, live chat, email or mail.

Tax Sales FAQ

What is a Tax Sale and how does it work?

A Tax Arrears Certificate is registered if property taxes are not paid for two years prior to January 1st of any year, as authorized under the Municipal Act. A Tax Arrears Certificate indicates that the property will be sold if all the taxes, penalties, interest and reasonable costs incurred by the City are not paid within one year of registration of the certificate. This amount is referred to as the cancellation price. Once a certificate has been registered, partial payments cannot be accepted, but before the expiry of the one year, a municipality may authorize an extension agreement.

The City may advertise the property for sale for non-payment of taxes if the cancellation price is not paid within one year of registration of the certificate. The advertisement would be published in a local paper for four consecutive weeks and the Ontario Gazette for one week.

Eligible bids must be at least equal to the advertised minimum, which would include all outstanding taxes, interest, costs and Land Transfer Tax if applicable. Using forms provided by the Tax Office, the bid plus a certified cheque for 20% of the tendered amount must be submitted in a sealed envelope before the specified due date.

From the day of notification to the highest bidder, the bidder has 14 days to complete the transaction. All properties sold for non-payment of taxes are sold as is, without warranty.

Why is the Municipality selling these properties?

As per provincial legislation, a municipality may recover unpaid property taxes through the sale of the property. By the time a property is eligible for tax sale the property taxes are at least in their third year of arrears.

How does the Municipality sell these properties? Is there a realtor involved?

No. The Municipality chooses an external company to provide support in preparing documents, advice and ensuring compliance with legislation throughout the tax sale process. In addition to the legislated advertising requirements, this remains a more economical option to assist the municipality in meeting all regulatory requirements while ensuring good market exposure to potential buyers.

Can I really buy a property so cheaply?

Tax sales are not typical real estate transactions and there are risks associated with this type of transaction. The City of Owen Sound is only interested in recovering unpaid taxes and is not obligated to, nor incented to, obtain fair market value. Prior to considering participating in a tax sale, it is recommended that potential bidders seek advice from a lawyer licensed to practice in Ontario and in good standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada, and conduct thorough research before submitting a tender.

Can the Municipality recommend a lawyer for this purpose?

The Municipality does not provide recommendations for legal counsel.

What does "Cancellation price" mean?

An amount equal to all tax arrears owing at any time in respect of land together with all current real property taxes owing, interest, penalties thereon, other land-related costs (such as unpaid water or sewer charges) and all reasonable costs incurred by the Municipality after the Treasurer becomes entitled to register a Tax Arrears Certificate under Section 371 of the Municipal Act, 2001.

Up to what point can the owner pay the taxes and avoid the sale?

The owner can pay the "cancellation price" at any time up to the point in which the property is either transferred to the successful tenderer or vested to the Municipality due to a failed tax sale.

How would I determine if there is a mortgage or any liens against the property?

It is the responsibility of the tenderer to search title at their expense. 

For information on title searches, contact the Grey Land Registry (No. 16) Land Registry Office

1555 16th Street East, Suites 1 & 2
Owen Sound, ON N4K 5N3
Phone: 519-376-1637
Fax: 519-376-1639

Am I able to view and/or tour the property?

The Municipality cannot provide access to view or tour the property. Access without authorization from the owner of the property is considered trespassing.

Who is the legal owner of the property during the tax sale process?

Legal title does not change until a successful purchase occurs or the property becomes vested (usually only if there are no eligible bids received and only if the Municipality decides to take the property into its possession). 

What if the property is occupied?

The Municipality does not guarantee vacant possession. Please contact a lawyer licensed to practice in Ontario and in good standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada.

What are the annual utility costs?

The Municipality does not have this information. 

What other costs are payable to the Municipality if I am the Purchaser?

The Purchaser is responsible for payment of any additional taxes, charges, penalties and interest that may be owing subsequent to the property being advertised for sale. In addition, the successful tenderer is responsible for the land transfer taxes, registration fees and HST, if applicable. All instalments and interest to the tax sale date have already been included in the final cancellation price.

If I am not the highest tenderer, do I receive my deposit cheque back at the tender opening?

No deposit cheques will be released at the tender opening under any circumstances. Deposit cheques of unsuccessful tenderers will be available for pick up at a later date or returned by courier.

My tender submitted is much lower than others - why may I not receive my deposit cheque back at the tender opening?

The Municipality must review all tenders for compliance with the requirements of the legislation and Municipal processes following the public opening. The highest tender may not be the successful tender. Tenders can be rejected for a variety of reasons including noncompliance with the legislation. Lower tenders may be considered.

Can I pick up my deposit cheque?

Yes, you are able to pick up your deposit cheque. Alternatively, deposit cheques of unsuccessful tenders will be returned by courier.

When will I know if I am the successful tenderer?

The successful tenderer will be notified by registered mail within one (1) week following the public sale. The Municipality will notify the tenderer of the balance to be paid in order for the tenderer to be declared the successful purchaser. The balance due must be paid in full within 14 calendar days of the mailing date of the notice. Upon receiving notification, the successful tenderer should immediately retain a lawyer licensed to practice in Ontario and in good standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada.

What happens if the successful tenderer does not follow through?

The successful tenderer's deposit is forfeited and the land is offered to the second highest qualified tenderer who has 14 calendar days from being notified by registered mail to pay the balance owing.

How do I get keys for the property?

The Municipality does not have a key to the property and is not responsible to provide one to the purchaser.

What happens if the property fetches more than the cancellation price - what happens to the extra money? What about the other parties that might have an interest in the property (i.e. lienholders, creditors)?

Any monies received as part of the tender that are not required to clear the cancellation price are returned to the courts. Parties who have a claim may be able to apply to the court to access these residual monies to cover their loan or other interest.

What happens to the property if the Municipality does not receive any tenders?

The Municipality has two years from the date of the failed tax sale to vest the property to the Municipality or e-advertise the property for sale.

How long does the tax sale process take?

The tax sale process is initiated by the registration of a tax arrears certificate in the land registry office. In the event the cancellation price is not paid before the expiry of the one-year redemption period, these properties can be disposed of by either public auction or public tender. Advertisements are published in the local newspapers for four consecutive weeks and the Ontario Gazette for one week.

What is the property assessed for and/or what are the annual property taxes?

Assessment values are available by viewing the tax roll ledgers at the Municipal office. Normally, staff are not available to assist with the roll books, but the books are available for public viewing and are organized by roll number. Assessed values are provided in the roll book, along with specific property details such as size, zoning, etc. To determine annual taxes, you can multiply the assessed values by the appropriate tax rates - tax rates are available on the Municipality's website.

Additional information related to assessment can be obtained from Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC): www.mpac.ca / 1-866-296-MPAC (6722).

What are the annual water and/or sewer costs?

Water bills are generated quarterly and consist of the unit allocation cost plus usage costs. The current approved water and sewer rates can be found on the Municipality's website. 

What are the zoning and planning opportunities and limitations that exist for this parcel?

The Municipality cannot comment on specific opportunities. We recommend that a planner be engaged to discuss this type of question. Our Zoning By-law and Official Plan can be viewed on the Municipality's website.  

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