A potential bonanza of $50 million in tax rebates for Ontario, Canada’s seasonal campground operators and thousands of trailer-owning customers is held up in the courts. And, according to the London Free Press, it may soon rise to $85 million.
Two months ago, the Superior Court of Justice ruled the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) acted unlawfully by deciding in 2003 to assess trailers the same way as land, allowing municipalities to collect taxes on them. The ruling gave hope to 700 campgrounds that taxes they paid, totaling about $50 million, would be rebated.
The case revolved around a campground near Sauble Beach and its assessment, which skyrocketed between 2002 and 2003. The ruling was hailed as “bulletproof” by winning lawyer Peter Fallis of Durham.
But MPAC has appealed the ruling to the Ontario Court of Appeal, and a final disposition isn’t expected until 2008.
That delay, predicts one campground operator, likely will add another $35 million to the rebate if MPAC’s appeal fails.
“It’s a lot of money,” conceded Murray Lembke of Ayton, chairperson of the RV Action group that has been working with Fallis.
Lembke said campground operators should see rebates totaling “a conservative estimate” of $85 million if MPAC continues with the assessments and its appeal fails. That money would, in turn, be distributed among thousands of trailer owners.
Lembke said his group is continuing to explore options with lawyers and others.
Rose McLean, director of legal and policy support services at MPAC, said the appeal may have wide implications, but in the meantime, “everywhere we have assessed trailers, we are just holding pat.” That means assessments that have been disputed will remain in place until the Court of Appeal renders its decision. And that means municipalities will continue to levy taxes based on those assessments.