Unpaid real estate taxes become delinquent on April 1 each year. A 3% penalty will be assessed at this time. During the month of May, the tax collector is required by Florida Statute to advertise the delinquent properties in a local newspaper once a week for three consecutive weeks. The cost of this advertising is added to the tax notice May 1.
Tax Certificate Sales
Beginning on or before June 1, the tax collector is required by law to hold a tax certificate sale. These certificates represent liens on all unpaid real estate properties and are sold so that the various taxing authorities will receive those funds that are encumbered by their fiscal budgets for that year. The tax certificate sale is open to all bidders, and the certificates are sold in a reverse auction style with participants bidding downward on interest rates starting at 18%. The certificate is issued to the lowest bidder.
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 interest on his or her investment. In order to remove the lien and cancel the certificate, the property owner must pay cash or certified funds to the tax collector on all the delinquent taxes plus accrued interest, penalties, and costs associated with the certificate. The tax collector then notifies the certificate holder and issues a check for his or her investment, thereby canceling the lien and certificate.
Tax Deed Application
A tax certificate is valid for a period of seven years from the date of issuance. The holder of the certificate may apply for a tax deed when two or more years have elapsed from the date of delinquency of the tax year for which the certificate was issued. If the property owner fails to pay the total taxes and costs due, a tax deed will be sold at public auction, and title to the property will transfer at that time. All certificate holders desiring to file a tax deed application must do so online at LienHub.