Documentation:Learning Activities/First Nations Taxation

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Taxpayer Dispute Resolution and Tax Complaint Roleplay/Simulation

Introduction

This assignment is made up of two parts: Part A, which contains short answer questions about taxpayer dispute resolution and Part B, which involves a tax complaint roleplay/simulation with one or more of your peers.

Part A (50 marks)

Answer the following short-answer questions in complete sentences:

  1. List the eight steps to prepare for a dispute resolution meeting. (8 marks)
  2. Explain three strategies or interventions a facilitator can use to settle a dispute (12 marks)
  3. Describe appropriate responses to use if a meeting participant becomes angry with (a) another participant or (b) the facilitator. (10 marks)
  4. What is the s.33 review process? Who can submit a complaint? Who participates in the review process? What would support a complaint (include an example)? How would a s.33 complaint be resolved? (15 marks)
  5. Explain the role of tax administrators in the s.33 review process. (5 marks)

Part B (50 marks)

In this part of your assignment, you and a peer will work in groups of two (or more if necessary) and complete a roleplay. You will either play the role of a taxpayer or a First Nation tax administrator. The taxpayer in the roleplay will submit a property tax complaint to the First Nation, represented by the tax administrator. The tax administrator in the roleplay, representing the First Nation, will send the taxpayer a response, requesting a discussion/meeting via the telephone or online media (e.g. Skype, Windows Live, or Elluminate) and suggesting a proposed agenda for the discussion/meeting. You and your partner(s) will use the telephone or online communication tool to do the following:

  • Roleplay the meeting/discussion
  • Communicate with each other in writing, as instructed in this assignment
  • Work together to prepare a discussion/meeting report
  • Recommend next steps based on the outcome of your meeting

1. Getting Started:

Choose a partner to work with and assign one person to be the taxpayer and the other to be the First Nation tax administrator. Ask your Open Learning Faculty Member for help finding a partner, if needed. A group may have two taxpayers in the case where a student has no partner to work with. Exchange contact information with your partner(s), and determine the best method/tool to use for your telephone/online meeting. Decide which taxpayer representation law to use for the roleplay.

2. Taxpayer:

The Ravenclaw First Nation budgeted expenditures for street lights in its local revenue expenditure law but instead used the revenue to buy a fishing boat for elders.

  1. If you are the taxpayer in the roleplay, use the template providedto draft a letter of complaint to the First Nation Chief and Council about the issue. In your letter, include a description of the problem and what you would like the First Nation to do to remedy it. Use your favourite search engine to locate an alternate complaint letter template, if needed.
  2. Email the letter to your partner, who is playing the role of the tax administrator, and copy your Open Learning Faculty Member on the email. (25 marks)
  3. Read the taxpayer’s letter of complaint.
  4. If you are the tax administrator in the roleplay, use the template provided to draft a letter in response to the taxpayer’s letter of complaint. The response letter should include the following:

3. Tax Administrator:

  • Your First Nation’s preliminary response to the complaint
  • A preliminary agenda for the discussion
  • A request for an online meeting at a particular date and time
  1. Email the letter to your partner(s) playing the role of the taxpayer(s) and copy your Open Learning Faculty Member on the email. (25 marks)
    1. At an arranged time, using the agreed-upon method of communication (i.e., telephone or online media), roleplay a discussion/meeting with your partner(s). While representing the interests of your roleplay character to the best of your ability, apply consensus building strategies to find a solution to the issue at hand.
    2. Make sure that you take detailed notes during your meeting.

4. Online Meeting:

5. Discussion/Meeting Report

At the end of your discussion/meeting, work with your partner(s) to write a report that contains the following information (25 marks):

  • A description of each character’s interests (8 marks)
  • A description of how facilitation strategies were used (5 marks)
  • A description of the outcome of the meeting (5 marks)
  • Suggestions of next steps, either to implement the agreement reached, or to continue with the First Nation’s dispute resolution process (5 marks)
  • An opinion as to whether the complaint meets the criteria for a s.33 review (2 marks)

Completion and Submission Guidelines

Paste all of the different parts of this assignment into the one Word document named APEC1651_lastname_assignment 5. Submit it to your Open Learning Faculty Member for marking by Sunday midnight at the end of week eight of the course. Use the “Assignments” link.

Major Project: Assessment Appeal Group Simulation (20%)

Your Major Project is an Assessment Appeal Group Simulation project. It is worth 100 marks and counts for 20% of your final course grade. You will be asked to complete two online simulations, Part A and Part B, related to assessment appeals. At the appropriate time, your tutor will provide you with more details about this project, including the submission deadline. The purpose of the two online simulations is to help you gain experience in selecting an assessment appeal board in a simulated assessment appeal process.

Background Description

This background information applies to both of the online simulations. The Adanac First Nation is located in south eastern BC. It is adjacent to the small city of Clark. There are 400 Band members living on reserve and 600 living off reserve. There are two leasehold residential developments in Adanac. The older one near the river, River View, was first developed in 1978. Many of the older residents of River View are not maintaining their homes and the development seems to be in decline. The newer residential development in the hills, Hill Estates was started in 2002. Hill Estates is considered one of the nicest developments in the region. There is also a small industrial park in Adanac with 7 industrial lessees. Total assessed value for the Adanac First Nation is $65 million and last year it collected $900,000 in property taxes. Adanac provides a number of services to its taxpayers. The tax administrator is aware that some taxpayers are interested in a recycling program, and she would like to start planning for this new service this year. The tax administrator would also like to encourage existing businesses to expand and new businesses to locate on their lands. She is contemplating a grant program to business and industrial properties that offsets their costs of certain improvements. Off First Nation lands, the provincial government has decided that properties will be assessed at the lower of the 2007 and 2008 values. The Adanac First Nation has not changed its assessment law, which is identical to the sample assessment law for BC First Nations. Consequently, its assessed values are based on current market values.

Part A—Assessment Review Board (ARB) Selection Simulation (25 marks)

  1. Each simulation will involve six students. The objective of the simulation is for the tax administrator to select an assessment review board from five applicants. You will each be assigned to one character by your tutor, and provided with some information about your character. You will be sent (by email or “Mail”) a separate description of your role. All the administrator will know is the name and some limited information presented here:

Applicant 1 Garth Crooks: Retired Deputy Chief Assessor living on a different First Nation

Applicant 2 Mary Hartman: Out-of-work actress collecting social assistance and living off reserve

Applicant 3 Chase Elder: Well-known Band member who used to be a lawyer but is now an animal wrangler

Applicant 4 Sarah Palinski: Former off reserve politician who has expressed interest in moving into the on reserve residential development

Applicant 5 Windy Day: A recent addition to the law firm, who represents the First Nation

  1. The tax administrator will develop a list of five to eight questions to ask each applicant and post them in the “Major Project, Part A: Questions for Applicants” discussion. [production, set up a discussion item called “Major Project, Part A: Questions for Applicants” ]Remember that your ARB needs to be respected by the community and work well together, in addition to meeting the legal requirements.
  2. Each applicant will electronically “Mail” their answers to the tax administrator’s questions to the tax administrator and the tutor.
  3. After all the interview responses are received, the tax administrator will select three panel members and appoint a Chair of the Assessment Review Board. The tax administrator can also choose to seek additional candidates if he/she believes the applicants do not meet the requirements for the positions. The tax administrator will post a message on the Online Discussion [Production, set up a discussion, Major project, Part A: Successful Candidates] identifying the successful candidates and the reasons they were selected, as well as reasons why any positions were not filled.

Evaluation

You will be evaluated as follows:

  1. Tax administrator:

i. Selection questions—10 marks

ii. Candidate selection and reasons—5 marks

iii. Writing, spelling and grammar—5 marks

iv. Team participation and timeliness—5 marks

  1. Candidates:

i. Responses to selection questions—15 marks

ii. Writing, spelling and grammar—5 marks

iii. Team participation and timeliness—5 marks

Part B—Assessment Appeal Simulation (75 marks)

  1. This simulation will also involve six students. The objective is for the tax administrator/assessor to work with the chair of their assessment review board to facilitate two assessment appeals. The tax administrator/assessor should also be prepared to address taxpayer concerns that are not related to matters of assessment.
  2. The Assessment Review Board will be made of the applicants chosen by the tax administrator in the first simulation. If all three ARB positions were not filled, the tutor will select students to fill the vacancies and assign them new characters. Two of the applicants not chosen to be ARB members in the first simulation will now become taxpayers who are appealing their assessments in this simulation. The character profiles for these taxpayers will be sent to them separately by the tutor.

The two assessment simulations are summarized here:

  1. Assessment Appeal 1—Taxpayer 1, Mavis Anderson is a homeowner who is appealing the fact that her assessed value has risen by 5% this year, whereas the comparable off reserve properties have used lower 2007 values. She is also appealing her tax rate as she has calculated that it will raise her tax bill by 15%. The tax rate is always the same as the First Nation’s reference jurisdiction, the city of Clark.
  2. Assessment Appeal 2—Taxpayer 2, Joe Fortunato, is the owner of a fifteen-year-old tomato packing plant. It is classified as an industrial property. He has submitted an appeal because his assessed value did not change this year. He believes it should be lower because his plant has had one more year of depreciation. He is also appealing because industrial properties off reserve receive a rebate based on the amount of school tax they pay, but this rebate is not available on reserve.

Each taxpayer will complete a Notice of Appeal to the Assessment Review Board (Schedule VII of the BC Sample First Nation Property Assessment Law) and send it to the tax administrator/assessor, and the tutor, along with any evidence that the taxpayer intends to rely on to support his/her position at the hearing. Taxpayers can refer to the Property Assessment Complaint Process Step-by-Step Guide.

  1. The tax administrator/assessor will write a response to each taxpayer’s notice of appeal, and sends it to the taxpayer, the ARB members, and the tutor, along with any evidence that the tax administrator/assessor intends to rely on to support their position at the hearing.
  2. The Chair of the ARB sends a Notice of Hearing (Schedule IX of the BC Sample Assessment Law) to the Taxpayer and the Tax Administrator/Assessor.
  3. At the time specified in the notice of hearing, the ARB posts up to six questions for each party on the online discussion board. [production, set up discussion called Major Project, Part B: Assessment Appeal Questions]The taxpayer and the tax administrator can also post up to three questions for the other party to answer.
  4. The tax payer and the tax administrator will post answers under “Major Project, Part B: Assessment Appeal Responses” to the questions they have received. The parties should use evidence to support their positions whenever possible. [production, set up discussion called Major Project, Part B: Assessment Appeal Responses]
  5. The ARB considers the arguments and evidence presented and, as a group, posts a decision with supporting reasons on the “ARB’s Decision” discussion. [production-set up discussion called ARB’s Decision]Use the decisions of the BC Assessment Appeal Board at http://www.assessmentappeal.bc.ca/default.asp as a model for your decision. The decision should include:
  6. A summary of the facts (5 marks)
  7. A summary of the issue(s) (5 marks)
  8. A summary of the relevant legal sections or principles to be applied (10 marks)
  9. A summary of the arguments of the parties (10 marks)
  10. A discussion of reasons for the ARB’s decision (10 marks)
  11. The decision of the ARB, including the appropriate assessed value for the property (10 marks)

Evaluation

You will be evaluated as follows:

  1. Tax administrator:

i. Response to Notice of Appeal—35 marks

ii. Supporting evidence—15 marks

iii. Responses to ARB questions—15 marks

iv. Writing, spelling, and grammar—5 marks

v. Team participation and timeliness—5 marks

  1. Taxpayers:

i. Notice of Appeal—35 marks

ii. Supporting evidence—15 marks

iii. Responses to ARB questions—15 marks

iv. Writing, spelling, and grammar—5 marks

v. Team participation and timeliness—5 marks

  1. ARB members:

i. Notice of Hearing—5 marks

ii. Questions for parties—10 marks

iii. Content of decision—50 marks

iv. Writing, spelling, and grammar—5 marks

v. Team participation and timeliness—5 marks

Submission Guidelines

Send electronic assignments as an attachment, using “Mail” in the learning management system. When saving your assignment, please name the file as follows: APEC163_Surname_Descriptor. For example, student Tom Jones may name files: APEC 163_ Jones_Major Project. It is recommended that you keep a copy of each assignment you send to your tutor. Before you submit your assignment, consider the following checklist:

  • Did you put your name(s) and student number on the document?
  • Did you complete all the required elements?
  • Did you use information and terminology learned in this course?
  • Did you support your statements with specific examples?
  • Did you cite references, using correct referencing format?
  • Did you ensure that there are no spelling mistakes?
  • Is your writing grammatically correct, clear, and well organized?
  • Have you tried reading it out loud to ensure that it makes sense?