A Surrey resident claims the City of Surrey overcharged him by $500 on his property taxes in the 1970s - and now he wants his money back, with interest.
Dave Plett purchased a vacant lot in 1976 on which he built his house the same year.
He said that at the time, the city charged landowners $500 per year in addition to their property taxes if they did not build on the property.
"It was incentive for you to build a house - they didn't want you to have empty lots," said Plett. "When I built on it the first year, they still charged me the $500."
Plett said he went to the city looking for a refund, but was told that their computers weren't programmed to return money.
"That was their excuse and I figured I was young at that time and I didn't pursue it any further. I just let it go," he said.
Now, 35 years after the charge, Plett wants to be reimbursed his $500, and then some. He's not sure how much $500 back then would be worth today, nor how much interest would be generated, but online inflation estimates put today's value around $1,800 before interest.
Plett said he recently contacted the city's tax department, but didn't get very far.
"They said they wouldn't look into it unless I had proof, and I don't have any proof of that," he said. "They probably have a record of it somehow ... maybe they lost their records too."
Craig MacFarlane, city solicitor for Surrey, said the overage may have been from B.C.
Assessment as the city's property taxes are based on the work of inspectors who assess the properties.
"Maybe B.C. Assessment made a mistake, but we would have no way of verifying that information now," said MacFarlane.
However, a spokesperson for B.C. Assessment said the charge would have come from the city and he assumed the city would have the records on file.
Plett is still figuring out what his next step is. He is considering legal action, but is currently looking for a lawyer and legal advice. He also wonders if others have found themselves in similar situations, and why there doesn't seem to be a system to return overpaid taxes.
"I was wondering if I bring this out, maybe there's more people that were building at that time," said Plett. "I'd like to bring it out in the open if I can." email@example.com
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