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Real estate taxes become delinquent April 1st following the year in which they are assessed. Delinquent taxes can be paid by personal or business checks, debit/credit card or electronic check. The date the payment is received in the office determines the amount due.
Beginning on or before June 1st, the Tax Collector is required by law to hold a tax certificate sale. Florida Statutes require the Tax Collector to advertise the delinquent parcels in a local newspaper once a week for three consecutive weeks prior to the tax certificate sale. The certificates represent liens on all unpaid taxes on real estate properties. The sale allows any person to bid for a tax certificate by paying off the owed tax debt. The sale is conducted in reverse auction style with participants bidding downward on interest rates starting at 18 percent. The certificate is awarded to the person who will accept the lowest rate of interest. A tax certificate earns a minimum of 5 percent interest to the investor if the interest amount is less than 5 percent of the face amount of the certificate. NO interest is earned for those certificates awarded at a "zero interest bid".
A tax certificate, when purchased, becomes an enforceable first lien against the real estate. The certificate holder is actually paying the taxes for a property owner in exchange for a competitive bid rate of return on his/her investment. In order to remove the lien, the property owner must pay the Tax Collector all delinquent taxes plus accrued interest, cost, and other charges. Once the certificate is redeemed, the Tax Collector will issue a check to the certificate holder.
A tax certificate is valid for seven years from the date of issuance. The holder may file a tax deed application when two or more years have elapsed since the date of delinquency. If the property owner fails to pay the tax debt, the property will be sold at public auction.