Queen’s wins appeal from City for refund of $1.2 million

Refund addresses property taxes for student residences as 53 other properties undergo the same review

Queen’s won its appeal for a tax exemption on the An Clachan apartment complex.
Queen’s won its appeal for a tax exemption on the An Clachan apartment complex.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Queen’s will receive a $1.2 million reimbursement from the City of Kingston after winning an appeal against paying property taxes for student residences.

Queen’s argued that the An Clachan apartment complex is used for “educational purposes” and should therefore receive the same treatment as all other tax-exempt university buildings. The housing complex — a series of 19 buildings — is located at 47 Van Order Dr.

The property’s classification has been changed from a multi-residential taxable property to a tax-exempt property following an evaluation by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC).

The $1.2 million reimbursement to Queen’s is for taxes the University has paid on the property since 2011.

The complex has a roughly 400-person capacity spread out over in 260 apartment units. The vast majority of inhabitants are students. 

“There’s a very careful review by MPAC. They’re a separate independent assessment organization and they have to confirm that there was in fact an error made — not just us and the City sitting down deciding how to do this,” Queen’s Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) Caroline Davis said.

Queen’s now has 53 other properties undergoing the same review.

“We may find that there are some properties that … we should have been paying taxes and we haven’t,” Davis continued, “so if that happens then we’ll be following that process and making that payment and fixing that.”

Davis said even with the error, there are no hard feelings between the University and the City.

“We don’t expect there to be negative side effects with the City,” she said.

“It’s done according to law and regulations, so it’s not something that can cause bad relations.”

While the mistake will lead to loss of revenue for Kingston, the City will not be appealing the decision.

“We’ve been working very closely with Queen’s and MPAC and so we agree with the assessment based on the use of it today … there’s no reason for us to spend any time or resources to appeal it,” Desiree Kennedy, city treasurer, told The Journal.

The City receives an annual payment from the province to compensate for the University’s tax-exempt status, which amounts to roughly $75 per student.

Given the appeal, it’s unknown whether the rate will be raised, but it’s been an ongoing discussion in the province.

“It’s a provincial initiative. In the past, the City along with other municipalities has asked the provincial government to increase it by inflation, because it’s been $75 for so long,” Kennedy said.

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