Fair Property Tax Exemptions

Towns and cities across British Columbia exempt millions of dollars worth of property each year.

Provincial laws require the exemptions of religious-owned buildings used for "public worship" and many municipalities go further and exempt all other properties owned by religious groups.

A few councils, however, have taken a different path. Some administer a local benefits test to all organizations seeking property tax exemptions, while others have a policy to reject all exemption requests.

We will be profiling some of these communities and encourage you to look into the rules in your own community. Share what you learn with us and we'll feature it here.

Join our campaign for fair property tax exemptions

Latest news

Shedding light on religious property tax exemptions

A recent legal battle over the tax status of an island in the Salish Sea sheds some light on the privileges some religious institutions enjoy in British Columbia (BC). Expressly, the conditions under which places of public worship qualify for property tax exemptions.

Colwood councillor calls for end to religious property tax exemptions

"This may not be a popular take," began Councillor Ian Ward at an October 10, 2023, Colwood City Council Meeting. In his speech, Councillor Ward outlined why two churches in his community should not receive permissive tax exemptions this year.

North Cowichan grants tax exemption to Christian camp, denies CPC

Recently, North Cowichan municipal district council denied a property tax exemption to a crisis pregnancy center.

Campbell River punishes secular charities for compassion, rewards golf course & churches

Campbell River city council voted on September 28 to cut the property tax exemptions for the Vancouver Island Mental Health Society and the local art gallery.

Saanich council to debate ending automatic tax exemptions for places of worship

On Monday, January 23, Saanich council will debate a motion calling on the province to eliminate the statutory exemptions for places of worship. The motion, "transition all statutory tax exemptions for places of worship to permissive tax exemptions," is being brought by Councillor Teale Phelps Bondaroff and would direct the Union...

BCHA submits Budget 2023 response

The BC Humanist Association today renewed its call for a Secular BC in its response to the finance committee's consultations for Budget 2023. In its response, the organization calls for an end to funding of religious and elite private schools, the end of the statutory property tax exemption for places...

Saanich endorses COVID-19 denial through permissive tax exemption

Without benefits tests for permissive tax exemptions (PTE), municipalities risk funding organizations that only provide services to their members, run commercial operations, exclude and discriminate against people or flout the law. This is exactly what the District of Saanich did at its meeting on Monday, October 25th when this municipal...

A Public Good? Property tax exemptions for places of worship in British Columbia

The BC Humanist Association released a report today calling on municipalities to adopt regular benefits tests for tax exemptions granted to places of worship. These tests, the report states, are necessary to ensure potential recipients of tax exemptions — which total millions each year — provide services that benefit the...

Fort St John overhauls permissive tax exemptions

In November, the northern British Columbia community of Fort St John approved a new Financial Policy Framework that will require organizations "provide broad community benefits" to be eligible for property tax exemptions. Under the Community Charter, municipalities are required to exempt certain property like houses of worship from property taxes but...

Saanich looks at public benefits tests for churches

Following a letter from the BC Humanist Association, councillors in the District of Saanich voted unanimously Monday night to move toward applying a public benefits test before granting property tax exemptions to religious groups in the municipality. The vote followed a staff report reviewing options for the District. It notes that...

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