FREDERICTON. N.B. – The provincial government will be able to recover more than $3.4 million in overdue taxes related to abandoned properties through amendments to the Real Property Tax Act introduced today.
"As well as increasing cash flow to the province, allowing us to collect taxes in serious arrears, these amendments support the ongoing commitment that our municipalities are making to remove dilapidated and dangerous properties," Finance Minister Blaine Higgs said. "This will remove an obstacle to the sale of unoccupied properties, which will have a positive effect on neighbouring property values."
The amendments and subsequent regulations will require the Department of Finance to make final attempts to find owners or their legal representatives by posting notices on the property and in local newspapers. This method will be used only in situations where personal service and registered mail have been unsuccessful. The Department of Finance will continue to contact property owners and make every effort through its resources across Canada to contact property owners outside New Brunswick.
More than 400 properties are unable to be sold at a tax sale because the act currently requires notification of the sale by personal service or registered letter.
Many of the cases are property owners who have died without a will or without heirs, or property owners who have not been found after exhaustive research by the Department of Finance.
The amendments will free up the properties for occupancy or redevelopment, which will lead to new and increased revenues for the provincial government.
"Properties will no longer sit empty due to an ambiguity in our regulations," Higgs said. "New Brunswick's notification requirements are still more stringent than many other jurisdictions across Canada."
The Department of Finance is on target to meet the 20-per-cent reduction in regulatory obligations as part of the Smart Regulations initiative, which is part of the provincial government's focus on smarter and more strategic management of its programs.