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Tax Sale General Information

 What Are Tax Certificates?

Property taxes for real estate become due November 1, and are delinquent if not paid by April 1 of the following year.  No later than April 30 the Tax Collector will mail reminder notices for all unpaid accounts.  The Tax Collector prepares a list of delinquent taxes in May to be advertised in the newspaper and online.  The tax certificate face amount consists of the sum of the following: delinquent real estate tax (unpaid amount), interest (1.5% per month for April and May on the delinquent amount), Tax Collector’s commission (5% on the delinquent amount), the newspaper’s advertising charge and the tax sale cost.  Tax certificates are a first lien against the property and shall supersede governmental liens.

 The Tax Certificate Sale

On or before June 1 the Tax Collector must start the tax certificate auction process.  The issuance of tax certificates and the auction process is governed by Chapter 197 of the Florida Statutes.  Tax certificates convey no property rights.  They are an interest bearing “lien”.  Prior to the auction, the list of delinquent properties is advertised once a week for three consecutive weeks.

The interest on a tax certificate ranges from zero (0) to 18% annually.  Valid bids may be entered between zero (0) and 18% in 0.25% increments. If the tax certificate is redeemed on or after June 1, the tax certificate holder is guaranteed a minimum of 5% interest.  Zero percent bids will not earn the 5% minimum interest.

 Bids are entered and awarded to the buyer with the lowest interest rate bid. Simple interest accrues on a monthly basis.  If the tax certificate earns an interest rate of 12%, then interest will accrue at the rate of 1% per month until the tax certificate is redeemed.  If there are any delinquent properties that do not receive a bid, those tax certificates are issued to the county at 18%.  These county held tax certificates will become available for purchase at a date to be determined by the Tax Collector.

The life of a tax certificate is 7 years. In the event of a bankruptcy filing, the life of a tax certificate may be extended for the term of the bankruptcy stay. If no action is taken by the tax certificate holder during the 7 year period, and the taxes remain unpaid, the tax certificate is cancelled due to the Statute of Limitation, which will result in the loss of the investment.

 What Happens After the Purchase of A Tax Lien Certificate?

In accordance with Florida Statutes, a tax certificate holder shall not contact the owner of the property until two (2) years have elapsed from April 1 of the year of issuance of the tax certificate.  Such contact may result in costly legal action.  Upon redemption of the delinquent taxes, the Tax Collector’s office will then pay the certificate holder the total taxes due including interest earned.

Certificates can be sold and transferred to another buyer by submitting a completed registration, if applicable, and endorsement form must accompany the transfer fee of $2.25 per certificate, payable to the Tax Collector.  The holder of a tax certificate may apply for a tax deed after two (2) years have elapsed from April 1 of the year of issuance of the tax certificate.

Prior to applying for tax deed foreclosure it may be advisable to check for any existing liens against the property. Sec 197.552, Florida Statutes, provides that unsatisfied governmental liens shall survive the issuance of a tax deed.  To apply for a tax deed, the tax deed applicant shall do the following: (a) submit a signed tax deed application (b) pay all amounts required to redeem all outstanding tax certificates not owned by the applicant (c) if due, pay current taxes (d) pay a fee of $150 for a title search fee (e) pay a $75 application fee.  Note: Fees can change without notice.

At a later date, the Clerk of the Circuit Court will notify the applicant of the sale date and additional cost, which the applicant must pay. These costs include the advertising cost, mailing cost and Sheriff’s fee.  The property will be sold to the highest bidder at a public sale.  For properties without homestead exemption on the current tax roll, the opening bid will include all cost and delinquent taxes plus interest.

For properties with homestead exemption on the current tax roll, the opening bid shall include, in addition to all cost and delinquent taxes plus interest, an amount equal to one-half (1/2) of the assessed value of the homestead property as listed on the current year’s tax roll.  In the event the non-homestead property does not sell, the applicant is required to take deed to the property.  If the homestead property does not sell, the applicant must pay the additional one half (1/2) assessed value in order to take deed to the property. If the applicant elects not to pay the additional amount, the property will be entered onto the List of Lands Available for Taxes.  Property not purchased from the List of Lands within 3 years will escheat (revert) to Leon County and the applicant’s investment is lost.

 Important Information:

The purchase of a priority lien tax certificate offered for sale by any Florida County Tax Collector is not a guaranteed investment.

Certificate(s) will be issued in the name listed on the bidder's IRS Form W-9 or W-8 for foreign bidders.  It is required that a Social Security Number or a Federal Identification Number be furnished on the IRS Form W-9 or W-8 for foreign bidders, as all interest earned is required to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

The Tax Collector reserves the right to modify, add and delete information and policies related to the process and procedures of the Tax Lien Certificate Sale as may be deemed necessary or required by law.

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