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August 23, 2022

6 Commercial Real Estate Organizations to Consider Joining

With thousands of industry organizations vying for your attention, it can be hard to know which one you should join. This is especially true if you work within a narrow niche—like property tax. Given our expertise, we’d like to help. Here’s our list of six prominent organizations we believe are important to property tax management professionals in any industry.
TECHNOLOGY & TRENDS

There are numerous organizations worldwide where like-minded individuals can network, share their interests, learn from one another, and enjoy benefits from the organizations too—commercial real estate is no exception. It can be hard to know which of these communities is right for you. 

This is especially true if you’re in a niche within a niche…  

At Rethink Solutions, we focus deeply on property tax management technology for multi-property real estate portfolios. While our software offers benefits that impact the entirety of an organization, the folks who engage with our software are primarily property tax management professionals and senior finance leaders. Depending on your industry, responsibilities, and seniority in your role, the organizations you should follow or join will vary greatly.

We thought that given our experience and network, we could help you narrow down your options. We have pulled together a list of six prominent organizations we believe are important to those managing property taxes for multi-property real estate portfolios.

This list applies to you regardless of whether you are an owner or occupier of real estate. If you’re managing property taxes in either of these scenarios, here are the organizations you should seriously consider joining to help advance your career and always be in the know with this super niche industry. 

Making your choice…

When you decide to invest your time and/or money in any organization, the first step is to know your goal(s).  

Industry organizations provide a wide range of differing benefits. Some of them add prestige or authority to the overall business brand or professional. Some of them provide mentorship and career growth supports. Some open up partnership opportunities for member organizations. Some of them have unique sources of information and knowledge that you can use to make your portfolio perform better or give you tips on where to expand next.  

You can choose to join every relevant organization and association at your disposal, but then you’re unlikely to be able to take advantage of what they each have to offer. It’s generally better to be selective so you can embrace any community you join and be an active participant.

When you know your goal, that will help you narrow down the right choice for you. You can prioritize based on your goals and set yourself up to engage as deeply as you like.  

The question that remains is—which organizations should you join as a property tax professional?  

For the purposes of this article, we chose to offer recommendations that strongly align with the property tax niche and that we ourselves follow.  

Without further delay… 

1: IPTI

The International Property Tax Institute (IPTI) is a non-profit registered in Canada that serves the global property tax community. Recognized as one of the leading authorities on worldwide property taxation policy and practice, IPTI was founded by world-wide property tax experts from across public and private sectors. They advise governments, academia, and practitioners on all aspects of property taxation systems. Their objectivity means they are well positioned for various assessment and research projects.  

What Is IPTI’s Mission?

Ideologically, they are committed to the concept that taxation systems should be fair and equitable, built to provide quality local services, and equipped to meet the needs of all stakeholders. They consider these stakeholders to include… 

  • Governments and other property tax collecting authorities 
  • Taxpayers and other community members 
  • Academics and practitioners operating within the system.  

To support the development of effective and efficient property tax systems, IPTI offers impartial policy advice, as well as strategic consulting services on policy implementations, traditional education as well as practitioner training programs, and more. 

You can read IPTI’s full vision, mission, and more, here. 

What DoesIPTI Do? 

  1. Research. TheIPTI performs research projects at both local and international levels. These projects can be either solely owned by IPTI, commissioned by another entity, or done in partnership with another organization. 
  2. Advising. IPTI offers consulting and advisory services to governments, private sector clients, professional organizations, and anyone who needs an impartial property tax review. They will review anything from valuations to tax law and legislation. 
  3. Mediation. Conflicts between property owners and governments at any level can often result in lengthy litigation that is costly and unsatisfying to everyone involved. IPTI offers impartial third-party mediation services as an alternative for dispute resolution beyond litigation. 

IPTI maintains a library of property tax information and thought leadership. They have an extensive database of information, and host regular events including workshops, webinars, symposiums, conferences, and training programs. In addition, their jointly published Journal of Property Tax Assessment and Administration is internationally recognized as a valuable resource. 

Who Can Apply for IPTI Membership?

Memberships are available to individual property tax professionals, as well as organizations and agencies. 

Why Choose IPTI?

For prospective members, IPTI offers unique value to: 

  • Real estate leaders following global industry trends to help maximize portfolios.  
  • Practitioners seeking thought leadership from a global community of experts. 
  • Hands-on property tax professionals who function in an international capacity. 

From IPTI

“IPTI has undertaken a wide variety of projects for international governments at all levels (Federal, Provincial and Local), for private sector clients, for professional organizations, and for other bodies which have been in need of the expert, independent, impartial advice that IPTI provides. [Click here] for brief details of some of these projects.”  

2: IPT

The Institute for Professionals in Taxation (IPT) was founded as a non-profit in 1976 and is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Not to be confused with IPTI whose scope includes property taxes internationally, IPT focuses geographically on theUnited States and all kinds of taxes. In addition to property taxes, their scope also includes sales tax, income tax, value added tax, and more. 

What Is IPT’s Mission?

IPT prides itself on being “the only professional organization that educates, certifies and establishes strict codes of conduct for state and local income, property, sales & use, and value added tax professionals and credits & incentives practitioners who represent taxpayers….” This description aligns with their dedication in supporting business excellence, ethics and professionalism, and progressive collaboration within the tax profession.  

Since 1976, IPT has been committed to offering “unique and diverse” certification programs across the tax profession. In addition, they advocate for equitable administration of state and local taxes. Critical to this work is a focus on its members and providing them with the resources they need to represent and champion similar goals in the field. 

Of course, knowledge and education are invaluable, particularly in professions where the burden can be intense. This is certainly true in commercial real estate. Membership in an organization like IPT can lighten that burden because it provides a vast network of peers that can support ongoing work as well as new expansion when you need on-the-ground tax expertise you can trust.    

What Does IPT Do?

  1. Credentials. They offer certification programs for individual professionals for state income tax, property tax, and sales tax, called the Certified Member of the Institute (CMI) certification. They also offer the CCIP, Certified Credits, and Incentives Professional. 
  1. Events. They host over 20 events annually, with nationwide attendance. These range from joint programs to forums to seminars. 
  1. Directory. They provide a membership directory to validate the certification and education of members and their standing regarding the organization's strict code of ethics. 
  1. Networking. They facilitate networking among members and other professionals from local jurisdictions to national forums, and everything in between.   

Who Can Apply for IPT Membership?

IPT membership is only available to individuals working in taxation, including: 

  • Corporate Employees (who manage taxes for their companies);  
  • Consultants (who provide tax advice and services to non-government clients); and, 
  • Academics (for professors and students in tax education.) 

Organizations, corporations, and government officials cannot be IPT members.  

Why Choose IPT?

IPT provides many services, both for the general public and its members.  

The two most significant benefits of joining IPT as a member are the wealth of tax knowledge they curate and create for their members as well as the networking opportunities they make available to members.  

IPT and IPTI memberships are not mutually exclusive; you can be a member of both organizations if you choose. The only restriction in IPT is that it is closed to those employed by the government. Since their focus is primarily on the United States, international members may not stand to gain that much. Luckily, plenty of other organizations are available to practitioners outside of NorthAmerica. 

From IPT

“IPT has played a significant ole in my professional development. Not only has it opened doors for me, but it keeps me on top of the latest news and trends in the property tax field. I highly recommend getting and staying involved in IPT.” (Member Testimonial) 

3: CPTA/ACTF

The Canadian Property Tax Association / Association Candienne de Taxe Fonciere (CPTA/ACTF) is Canadian, bilingual in English and French, (as you might expect of a Canadian national organization,), and represents Canadian interests and experts in property taxation. Since 1967, the CPTA has worked to educate, advocate, and connect property tax professionals throughout Canada. 

What Is CPTA / ACTF’s Mission?

The CPTA / ACTF is “a national organization providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information relating to both commercial and industrial property tax issues arising across Canada.” Integral to this mission, the CPTA / ACTF provides quality professional development, the chance for networking within Canada and specific regions, and opportunities for members to contribute back to the Canadian property taxation community.    

What Does CPTA/ACTF Do?

  • Advocacy. The CPTA promotes fairness in taxation, primarily by advocating for members in various Canadian jurisdictions. They help validate tax assessments, audit tax laws, and push back against local or national governments and industry groups. 
  • Education. They provide education and training for tax professionals across the country, along with a wealth of educational resources. This helps practitioners avoid penalties and challenges that could naturally arise if one does not know the latest developments in tax law. 
  • Networking. They facilitate networking between property tax professionals. Over its history, CPTA has seen that an individual pushing back against a government faces certain struggle without any guarantees of progress. When many come together, they can present a united front and turn unity into leverage. Group effort is a more successful bargaining technique to promote fairness in property tax assessment. 
  • Events. They host numerous events throughout the year, from educational symposiums to workshops to member golf tournaments. 

Membership in CPTA is at a chapter level, with four chapters split across Canada. The four chapters are British Columbia, Western Canada, Ontario, and Quebec & Atlantic. Each chapter is free to organize its own events, speakers, and opportunities, and members of any chapter can access organization-wide resources, attend their three-day national conference, search the member directory, and network with one another. 

Who Can Apply for CPTA Membership?

Membership eligibility is described as follows: 

“Membership in the association is limited to persons, associations, firms or companies who pay property taxes in Canada, persons/companies who have property interests in Canada, and others who are interested in furthering the aims and objectives of the CPTA.” 

Four kinds of membership are available. First Memberships are meant for primary tax professionals representing the interests of a company or firm. Second Memberships are available to secondary personnel employed by a firm with a First Membership. Retired Memberships are discounted memberships available to former members who are no longer actively working as tax professionals. Finally, Student Memberships are available to students looking to get into property taxation as a career. 

Why Choose CPTA?

The great benefit here versus other membership organizations is the Canadian focus and bilingual resources and services it offers to both English- and French-speaking Canadians. For property tax professionals in the Canadian market, there is likely no other organization that will provide the same level of local knowledge and expertise. 

From CPTA

“Membership in the CPTA has been extremely rewarding to me.  Professionally the CPTA is a valuable resource as their communication and education not only focuses on the latest nationally, but also more local areas of interest. Their advocacy efforts on the sometimes daunting task of fair and equitable taxation is integral to meaningful reform. On a personal level the membership is comprised of many similarly-minded professionals considered to be great friends.” (Member Testimonial) 

4: IAAO

Another international organization well worth joining, is the International Association of Assessing Offers (IAAO). It focuses less on property tax professionals and more on property tax assessors—who are admittedly, critically important players in the property tax industry. Like the other organizations, it is a non-profit with deep roots, having been founded in 1934.   

What Is IAAO’s Mission?

IAAO’s former mission statement, “To promote innovation and excellence in property appraisal and property tax policy and administration through professional development, education, research, and technical assistance.” was recently replaced. In collaboration with its board and members, the IAAO chose to revise its mission to “more accurately reflect the global, diverse composition of our Association as well as emphasize our expertise in the area of mass appraisal.” 

Its new mission statement reads as follows:  

“International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) is a global community of diverse mass appraisal professionals advancing fair and equitable property appraisal, assessment administration, and property tax policy through professional development, research, standards, and technical assistance. To that end, IAAO shall: 

A. Support and promote professional development; 
B. Prepare and deliver educational services; 
C. Provide technical assistance and consulting services; 
D. Strengthen membership and encourage growth; 
E. Provide information and counseling; 
F. Provide and encourage research; and 
G. Promote public understanding.”  

Viewing the former and new mission statements side-by-side is perhaps the most helpful way for prospective members to see how this organization has evolved over time.  

What Does IAAO Do?

  1. Library. The IAAO provides members with full access to their extensive research library, with physical and digital access to books, articles, documents, and other useful information for assessors. 
  2. Event Discounts. It offers members discounted attendance to the webinars, seminars, and annual conferences it hosts on a regular basis. 
  3. Networking. It promotes networking and knowledge transfer amongst its extensive community of 8,600+ members through IAAO Connect. 
  4. Credentials. It provides members the opportunity to earn both the IAAO Professional Member certificate and the IAAO Professional designation. 
  5. Education Funds. It offers scholarships and grants to those pursuing education to become professional assessors. 
  6. Subscriptions. It offers subscriptions to several publications, including a monthly magazine, biannual journal, and online newsletter. 
  7. Partner Discounts. It provides members with discounts from partner organizations, including Enterprise and Omaha Steaks. 

While IAAO is an international organization, it also works with individual local chapters and affiliate organizations. Membership in one of the dozens of affiliates allows discounted IAAO membership.  

Who Can Apply for IPTI Membership?

There are two kinds of members—Regular Members, for assessors and tax professionals, and Associate Members, for those who are not practitioners—both include the same membership benefits.  

Why Choose IAAO?

If your area of interest or expertise in property taxes focuses on the assessment side of the industry, the IAAO is perhaps the best association for you to join. 

From IAAO

"IAAO serves property assessment professionals worldwide from government jurisdictions and agencies as well as various business and academic communities. Our 8,000 members represent a wide range of locations and areas of expertise, part of what makes IAAO the internationally recognized leader for mass appraisal standards. IAAO can help you continue your education, add to your credibility, embark on a new career, pursue leadership opportunities, make a difference in your professional community or invest in great friendships around the globe. There's a world of possibilities, and we're here to connect you. Join, get involved and let IAAO work for you." 

5: RICS

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is a global professional organization based in the UK that creates, administers, and upholds standards regarding how to value, operate, and develop a range of real estate and property types. RICS does not limit the scope of their work to property taxes alone. Rather, its focus is on property in general. RICS boasts 134,000 members and provides industry-leading insights, globally-recognized standards, and professional certifications that carry weight around the world. 

What Is RICS’s Mission?

RICS is on a mission to champion the highest of professional standards in developing and managing land, real estate, construction, and infrastructure—worldwide. It seeks to do so through its “respected global standards, leading professional progression and trusted data and insight.” By operating in virtually every significant local financial market, RICS sees itself as perfectly positioned to influence policies and standards at the local level. As part of its greater vision, RICS is focused on innovations that serve present challenges and future generations in both functionality and financial impact. 

What Does RICS Do?

  1. Knowledge. RICS provides members with access to a nearly unprecedented volume of professional knowledge, credential-related training, and industry information related to all things property management, including global surveys and trend-spotting. 
  2. Recognition. Since its membership is internationally recognized, members enjoy clout in property-related roles that they might not otherwise have as practitioners when crossing borders. Members can feel confident knowing they’ve invested in an organization whose credentials will maintain their value across borders.  
  3. Networking. RICS has over 134,000 members and provides plenty of opportunities to network with one another, on a local level all the way to internationally. 
  4. Events. From virtual to in-person events, RICS offers a wide variety of options so every member should be able to find topics that suit them regardless of their location.  
  5. Support. The RICS Lionheart charity is managed by members and supports members when hard times hit and they need the support. 

Who Can Apply for RICS Membership?

With a wide variety of membership options to choose from, joining RICS is about more than simply meeting specific criteria and paying dues. RICS membership requires passing a series of assessments relating to surveying knowledge and/or your niche of specialty. Eligibility is open to students and members can grow their designation alongside their career.  

Why Choose RICS?

Generally, membership with RICS would be right for you if you are specifically focused or interested in surveying and other land management opportunities, especially in a global market where you are seeking career mobility. 

From RICS

“With the built environment estimated to be responsible for around 40% of global carbon emissions, RICS is championing sustainable practices across the built and natural environment. We are also empowering professionals to embed sustainability considerations into the way they work and better measure environmental impacts.” 

Additional Organizations

These six are just a selection of some of the most significant and valuable memberships you can have as a property tax professional from commercial to multi-family residential real estate. Certainly, there are numerous other organizations, from local to international, that you may want to consider. Each organization will have its own particular focus. As we’ve seen above, some may be organized by geography, some by specialty, and so on. Organizations like CREW (a women-only organization) focuses on a specific practitioner demographic, while the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) targets a specific professional role. Each will have its own value to you as a professional and you should consider this closely because, once you become a member, it is important to remain engaged in order to extract as much value as possible from your membership.  

If you have a recommendation for a valuable organization to join, feel free to write a comment about it. 

Meanwhile, if property taxes are a primary concern for your real estate portfolio, why not book an itamlink demo? itamlink is an indispensable part of accurately managing, forecasting, and auditing your property tax burden, forecasting taxes for an upcoming fiscal year, and predicting the implications of a new investment. Click here to learn more about itamlink and how it can help you enhance the performance of your portfolio. 

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