About our Office
We continually pursue organizational excellence by:
- Empowering our workforce to excel.
- Serving our customers respectfully, accurately, and professionally.
- Providing exceptional stewardship of public funds.
From collecting property taxes to issuing driver’s licenses, our office serves every resident of Pinellas County at one point or another. As an independently elected position that acts as the county’s chief revenue officer, the Pinellas County Tax Collector is responsible for collecting and distributing a variety of local taxes, including taxes on real estate, tangible personal property, and tourist development. Each year, we collect more than $1 billion in tax revenue, which we distribute to the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners, the Pinellas County School Board, local cities, fire districts, and other taxing authorities. Our budget is approved annually by the Florida Department of Revenue.
More than just taxes
Our office is also an agent for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. We issue driver’s licenses, identification cards, and titles and registrations for automobiles, trucks, mobile homes and vessels. Additionally, we act as an agent for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by issuing hunting and fishing licenses.
Not your typical government office
We are a recipient of the 2013 Governor’s Sterling Award and the 2016 Governor’s Sterling Sustained Excellence Award, Florida’s top honors for performance excellence. We make it a priority to find ways to do business better, faster and cheaper. To deliver world-class service, our office employs a knowledgeable workforce of 261 skilled tax specialists, accountants and customer service representatives. We strive to make technology a key part of our business operations, including online payment options, a modern call center, a high-speed mail system, and an annual online tax certificate auction. In addition, we have made it possible for customers to make multiple transactions in one place – whether online, through our call center, or at one of our offices.
The Florida License Plate
A Brief History from The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Florida’s First State Motor Vehicle Tag Law
- On May 11, 1905, Florida law required all resident owners to pay a $2 fee to register their motor vehicles with the Secretary of State, and to provide the make, serial number, horsepower, and description of their vehicles.
- The Secretary of State then issued a paper certificate, the number of which was to be displayed prominently on the rear of the vehicle.
- The owner was required to provide his own plate, a practice common in many states and localities prior to 1910. These homemade tags consisted of wood, leather, and metal. Some were made by local sign-smiths or purchased from a mail-order firm.
- These permanent numbers were required until September 30, 1915.
County Issued Annual Tags (October 1, 1911 – December 31, 1917)
- State motorists displayed permanent state numbers and in some cases permanent annual city numbers. In 1911, the State mandated that motorists display annual county numbers as well. Imagine having to display state, county, and city tags on one vehicle.
- The county plates were issued by each county’s tax collector for the fiscal year period October 1 through September 30. Fees were based on horsepower and ranged from $3 (< 10 HP) to $50 (> 70 HP).
- County issued plates were not standardized state-wide and each county supplied their own plates. This produced a wide array of size, shape, color, and format of plates. Typically the porcelain steel plates ordered from northern sign manufacturers were used.
State Issued Annual Plates (January 1, 1918 to Present)
- On May 28, 1917, Florida law created the first uniform state-wide annual tag and Florida was the last of the old 48 states to issue motor vehicle plates. The new law repealed city and county registration by assigning registration to the comptroller of the State of Florida until 1927 when the office of Motor Vehicle Commission was created.
- The Motor Vehicle Commission became the Department of Motor Vehicles in 1965.
The following summaries highlight Florida motor vehicle licensing since 1918:
1918 – First state-issued license tags appear (front and rear plates). Fees were based on the vehicle type, horsepower, and capacity.
1922 – Single tags issued. Gross weight and capacity tabs affixed to tags 1922 – 1925.
1923–26 – State outline embossed tags. State enacted its first title law.
1930–33 – Large tags were reduced in size to 5” X 12”.
1934–35 – “Theft proof” or locking tags were issued.
1938–75 – County prefix code numbers appeared. Numbers were based on the rank order of counties by population as revealed by 1937 tag sales.
1940 – Act 556 created the State Department of Public Safety consisting of the Division of the Florida Highway Patrol and Division of State Motor Vehicle Driver Licenses. Driver licenses were required.
1943 – World War II steel shortages mandated issuance of a metal tab in lieu of a full size tag. The 1943 tab was affixed over the date of the 1942 tag.
1949 – “Sunshine State” logo appeared on tags through 1975 except in 1951 when “Keep Florida Green” was promoted and in 1965 when “400th Anniversary” was celebrated.
1967-71 – Plates bore double-date format: 1967/68, 1968/69, etc. This was done to shift Florida’s plate issuance from a calendar year (expiring December 31st) to a fiscal year (expiring June 30th). The single date format reappeared in 1972.
1976 – Renewal decals or stickers appeared on the 1975 base-plate. Decals became a nationwide device to economize on the annual production of license plates.
1977 – Increased vehicle population required the use of an alpha-numeric coding system on Florida plates.
1986 – Alpha-Numeric-Alpha coding system was adopted to allow coverage of the expanding vehicle.
1987 – January 1, 1987, the “Challenger” license plate program was implemented for a specific time period. Then on September 30, 1991 the time period was extended to indefinite. This plate was issued to commemorate the astronauts who died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded.
October 1, 1987, the “Authenticated” license tag program began. By sending the antique license tag to the Division of Motor Vehicles, the plate can be examined and authenticated if both the body and engine of the vehicle are 35 years of age. These plates upon issuance become permanent.
October 1, 1987, the “Florida Salutes the Veteran” plate was established to create a fund for the construction, operation and to maintain domicile and nursing homes for veterans.
1989 – October 1, 1989 – December 31, 1994, the “Super Bowl” plate was established to raise funds to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the super bowl.
1990 – January 1, 1990 – December 31, 1994, the “Manatee” license plate was incorporated to honor the official state marine animal. Fifty percent of the funds raised are deposited in the “Save the Manatee Trust Fund” and may only be used for Manatee research.
1991 – October 1, 1991, the Florida Panther or communities trust license plate was implemented to raise funds for the protection of and education concerning the Panther.
Did you know?
Certificates of title were first authorized by Chapter 9157, Acts of 1923 with an effective date of July 1 of that year. Titles were issued to each owner of a motor vehicle with provisions for showing evidence of any liens. When a vehicle was sold, the title was endorsed to show transfer to a new owner and sent to the Comptroller for a new title. The primary purpose of the title was theft prevention. Money collected for these titles was then deposited into the Auto Theft Fund.