About First Nations Self-Taxation

If you have an interest in real property on First Nations land, the Indian Self Government Enabling Act (the Act) provides exemption to property taxation under every provincial enactment only if the First Nation has fulfilled the requirements of the Act. The exemptions include:

  • school tax;
  • municipal or rural property tax;
  • BC Assessment tax;
  • municipal finance authority tax;
  • police tax; and
  • tax levied on behalf of local governments – regional districts, hospital districts, transit authorities, improvement districts, local areas, the Islands Trust and the University Endowment Lands, if applicable.

This exemption only applies to non-native occupiers of reserve lands for First Nations that have enacted property taxation bylaws under the Indian Act, and if the First Nation has complied with the requirements of the Act.

The purpose of the exemptions under the Act are to prevent someone from being subject to provincial property taxes as well as First Nations property taxes imposed under the Indian Act, as that would clearly be 'double' taxation.

Constitutionally, federal legislation overrides provincial legislation, so the province enacted legislation to exempt people in this situation from provincial property taxes.

If you are a non-aboriginal living on a reserve where the First Nations band is involved in self-taxation, then the band is the taxing authority. In the cases below, please direct all your property tax enquiries and concerns to the band:

  • the property tax rates on a given reserve are usually similar to neighbouring non-reserve properties;
  • the provincial home owner grant program is not available to property taxpayers; however, most First Nation bands in self-taxation offer similar band-sponsored home owner grant programs; and
  • the property tax deferment program is not available where band property taxation is in effect.

To view a list of First Nations currently in self-taxation, please visit the First Nations Tax Commission website (opens in new window).

If you are a non-aboriginal occupying land on a reserve where the First Nations band is not involved in self-taxation, the property you occupy is subject to property taxation by the appropriate taxing authority, either your municipal or provincial government. As such, you may be eligible for the provincial Home Owner Grant and the Property Tax Deferment Program.