Real estate taxes become delinquent each year on April 1st. Delinquent taxes must be paid by cash, cashiers check, or money order. The date the payment is received in the office determines the amount due. 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.
Beginning on or before June 1st, the Tax Collector is required by law to hold a tax certificate sale. The certificates represent liens on all unpaid taxes on real estate properties. The sale allows citizens to buy certificates 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%. The certificate is awarded to the lowest bidder. A tax certificate earns a minimum of 5% interest to the investor until the interest has accrued to greater than 5%, with the exception of "zero" interest bids, which always earn "zero" interest.
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 investment. In order to remove the lien, the property owner must pay the Tax Collector all delinquent taxes plus accrued interest, cost, and other chargers. The Tax Collector then notifies the certificate holder of any certificates redeemed and a check is issued to the certificate holder.
A tax certificate is valid for seven years from the date of issuance. The holder may apply for a tax deed when two or more years have elapsed since the date of delinquency. If the property owner fails to pay the tax debt, the property tax deed is sold at public auction.