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Tax Certificate Sales

When are real estate taxes due in Florida?
Real estate taxes in the State of Florida are for the calendar year, and are payable November 1. The taxes become delinquent April 1 of the following year.

What happens when real estate taxes become delinquent?
Florida statutes require the Tax Collector of each county to conduct a sale of delinquent taxes beginning on or before June 1 each year at which tax certificates are issued.

Are delinquent taxes publicized?
The Tax Collector must advertise the delinquent taxes in a newspaper which is published at least once a week and be of general circulation in the county. The advertisement must be once a week for three consecutive weeks prior to the tax certificate sale, and specify the place, date and time of such sale. This sale date must be held on or before June 1.

What do the tax sale newspaper ads contain?
The newspaper advertisement contains for each delinquent tax parcel a sequential item number, the property identification number (ten digits), the delinquent tax amount plus costs and the legal description.*

*The delinquent tax amount plus costs (certificate’s face amount) consists of the following:

  • Real estate tax (unpaid amount)
  • Penalty for late payment (3% for months of April & May on above real estate tax amount)
  • Tax collectors commission (5% on above real estate tax amount)
  • Newspaper's advertising charge.
  • Total Certificate Face.

What are “tax certificates”?
Tax Certificates are a first lien on the real estate property but does NOT in any way constitute any rights to or ownership of the property.

Who may participate in a tax certificate sale?
Bidder registration is available in early May. In order to participate in a tax certificate sale, all bidders must register at www.sjctax.us.  The bidders will receive a total dollar amount and list of successful bids within 24 hours of the final bid.  All payments will be processed by Automated Clearing House (ACH) and will be deducted from the bidders account within 48 hours of the conclusion of the sale.

How does the bidding proceed?
All delinquent tax items are offered for sale.  All purchases are to the bidder who will accept the lowest interest rate which cannot be higher than 18%. As each delinquent tax item is sold; the bidder’s number and the rate of interest bid is recorded by the tax collector.  Upon completion of sale and verification of all sale items and interest bid, bidders will receive a listing of all certificates purchased.

If there are no bidders for any delinquent tax item, each applicable tax certificate is issued in the name of the county at the maximum of 18% interest.

What is the “life” of a tax certificate?
The life of a tax certificate is seven years which is computed from the date of sale. When a certificate becomes seven years old, it is deemed void and held to be barred by the statute of limitations and no action on the certificate may be maintained by any private holder in any court of the state.

What are “tax deeds”?
The holder of any tax certificate may at any time after two years have elapsed since taxes became delinquent on April 1, of the year of issuance of the tax certificate and before the expiration of the seven years from the date of issue, may submit a tax deed application to the tax collector of the county where the real estate described in the tax certificate is located.

Any certificate holder, other than the county, making application for a tax deed shall pay the tax collector a search fee, application fee, and all amounts required for redemption or purchase of all current taxes, other outstanding tax certificates, interest, omitted taxes and delinquent taxes relating to the real estate.

If this tax deed application is redeemed prior to the actual tax sale, you will receive funds by ACH process from the tax collector’s office to cover all cost which you incurred for your application for the tax deed plus interest on these costs.

When a tax deed sale does take place by the Clerk of Court it is open to the general public and the tax deed is issued to the highest bidder.

The opening bid on property assessed on the latest tax roll as homestead property must include all Clerk of Court fees all taxes due plus interest and one-half of the assessed value of the homestead property as listed on the current year’s tax roll.

Are tax sale certificates transferable?
All tax sale certificates issued (except those applicable to certain homestead, bankruptcy and litigation properties) are transferable by endorsement at any time prior to redemption or a tax deed application.  Bidders may request transfer of their certificates at a fee of $2.25 per certificate.

Why would a certificate be canceled?
Any tax sale certificate can be canceled if errors, omissions, or double assessments are made.  An error in assessment results in a change of the face amount of the certificate.

If a tax sale certificate should be canceled, the interest rate earned will be 8%, or the rate of interest bid at the tax certificate sale, whichever is less.

What about tax certificates held by the county?
A tax certificate issued in the name of the County for each real estate item is retained in the possession of the County Tax Collector. These tax certificates other than those relating to homestead real estate under $250.00, may be purchased or redeemed by individuals at the Tax Collector’s office. Those relating to homestead real estate under $250.00 can be purchased from the county when the tax certificates and accrued interest thereon represent an amount in excess of $250.00. 

The Tax Collector shall receive a fee of $6.25 for each certificate redeemed, each county certificate purchased, and each omitted year, incurred.  Payment must be made at the time of redemption.

For further information on St. Johns County Real Estate Tax Certificates, please call the Office of Dennis W. Hollingsworth, St. Johns County Tax Collector at (904) 209-2250.

 

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