Since 2000, the City had been billing a second local improvement tax to the owner of a residence located on a street corner; the rules, however, provided that buildings on a corner should not be imposed two local improvement taxes even if both streets had been repaired.

In August 2014, the City realizes its mistake.  It quickly informs the citizen by letter, and reimburses him for the last three years.

The Service des finances explains that the three year time limit provided for in the Civil Code prevents the City from reimbursing beyond that period:  the Department has a legal opinion supporting this conclusion.

The citizen disagrees and wants a full refund. He asked for the OdM’s assistance.

We conduct a long investigation and an in-depth legal research and analysis; we then intervene in favour of the citizen.

Referring to well established legal principles, the OdM submits the following arguments to the Service des finances:

  • Though the City’s mistake was clearly made in good faith, the citizen had no way of knowing, in the present file, that he was being overbilled. Indeed, the provision by virtue of which he should have been exempted from the second local improvement tax was not in a Bylaw but rather in a City Council Resolution.


  • In this context, the time limit to claim reimbursement for the whole period only started running from the date on which the citizen had learned of the mistake (in 2014).


  • Moreover, the integral refund to this citizen does not jeopardize the stability of the City’s finances. The Services des finances had confirmed that such a situation was exceptional, even unique, and that no other citizen was in a similar situation.


The City later informs us that it will provide full reimbursement to the citizen going back to year 2000, with interests.  This amounted to nearly $27,000.

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