Tax Certificate and Tax Deed Sales

Tax Certificate Sale

Background
Real estate taxes become delinquent on April 1. A 3% mandatory interest charge is added to the amount due at that time. If the taxes remain unpaid, the delinquent property will be advertised once a week for 3 consecutive weeks prior to the tax certificate sale and the advertising fee will be added to the tax bill.

The Tax Collector is required by law to hold a tax certificate sale on or before June 1 each year. If payment is not received by 5:00 p.m. on the business day immediately before the date of the certificate sale, a certificate will be issued and additional charges will accrue.

The tax certificate sale for delinquent 2017 taxes will be held online at bidpinellas.com on June 1, 2018. For answers to frequently asked questions, go to bidpinellas.com.

How the sale works
A tax certificate is an enforceable first lien against the property for unpaid real estate taxes. The sale allows investors to purchase certificates by paying the tax debt. The sale is conducted in a reverse auction style with participants bidding downward on interest rates starting at 18%. The certificate is awarded to the bidder who will pay the taxes, interest and costs and accept the lowest rate of interest. If there are no bidders, the certificate is issued to Pinellas County at 18% annual interest. Tax certificates last for seven years, as long as no other administrative or legal proceedings exist.

Note: There are certain risks associated with the purchase of tax certificates. It is the sole responsibility of the bidder to research any tax lien certificates before bidding on them.

Paying taxes after the certificate sale
To redeem the certificate, the property owner or his representative, must pay the Tax Collector the delinquent taxes plus accrued interest, advertising costs and fees. Payment of delinquent taxes must be made with a cashier’s check, money order, cash or credit card. The amount due for delinquent taxes is determined by the date received by the Tax Collector and not the postmark. After payment is received and validated, the certificate holder is reimbursed the cost of the certificate plus interest and the lien against the property is removed.

If taxes remain unpaid, the certificate holder may file a tax deed application with the Tax Collector two years after the date of delinquency. The property may be sold at a public auction conducted by the Clerk of the Circuit Court should the property owner fail to pay the tax debt.

For more information about delinquent taxes, please contact us at 727-464-7777.

 

 

Unsold Tax Certificates

Our tax certificate sale is held every year on or before June 1 at bidpinellas.com. If you would like to participate in our next sale, please visit our sale website in mid-May for a list of available certificates and information on how to register.

Any certificates that do not sell at the tax certificate sale are struck to Pinellas County. To purchase Pinellas County held certificates, register at LienExpress.

Please note that after the sale, the only certificates available for purchase are from the previous year’s sale and older. Any certificate that was struck to the county at this year’s sale will not be available for purchase until the first business day of September.

If you have any further questions regarding participating in the sale or purchasing county held certificates, please e-mail us at deedsupport@taxcollect.com or call 727-464-3409.

Tax Deed Sale

What is the tax deed sale?
The tax deed sale is a public auction where properties are sold for unpaid real estate taxes. While the auction itself is conducted by the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court, the process begins with the Tax Collector’s office.

The Tax Collector holds an auction every year called the tax certificate sale where certificates are sold on real estate parcels with delinquent taxes, see section above for more information. These certificates become a first lien on the property, and the owner must pay the taxes, plus interest and fees to prevent the property from eventually being sold at the tax deed sale.

If taxes remain unpaid after two years from the date of delinquency, the certificate holder may file a tax deed application with the Tax Collector’s office to begin the process of selling the property at a public auction. The Tax Collector mails courtesy warning letters every February to taxpayers that are in jeopardy of their property going to tax deed sale. The letter includes a payment cut-off date and advises taxpayers they are able to make payment on all years that are placing the property in jeopardy, prior to the tax deed process starting. A tax deed application can be made after the payment cut-off date has passed. Once tax deed begins, the taxpayer must pay for all outstanding taxes, fees and interest in order to stop the process.

If you are interested in a list of properties scheduled for a tax deed sale and/or a list of lands available for taxes, please contact the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Tax Deed Department, at 727-464-3424 or pinellasclerk.org.

Certificate holders use a program called DeedExpress to run estimates and make application for tax deed. They may register with DeedExpress by contacting us at deedsupport@taxcollect.com or 727-464-3409.

To begin tax deed, the certificate holder must pay all outstanding taxes, along with an application and title search fee. The certificate holder submits an ACH payment, through DeedExpress to begin tax deed. The Clerk of the Circuit Court will contact applicants throughout the process regarding any additional fees they may be responsible for.

After a tax deed application has been filed
After the tax deed application has been filed, it takes about 3 – 6 months for a property to go to auction. At any time in the process, the property owner can stop the tax deed action by paying all taxes due, plus interest and fees. Once the tax deed action has started, however, interest begins accruing at 18% annually, starting the month after application until the owner pays the taxes and fees or the auction occurs.

Important points

  • Tax certificates last for seven years, as long as no other administrative or legal proceedings exist. After the two-year window described above, a certificate holder may file a tax deed application at any time before the certificate expires.
  • Before a tax deed application has been filed, the delinquent property owner can pay taxes one year at a time to avoid any tax deed action. Once tax deed has started, all outstanding taxes are rolled into one amount plus any accrued interest, costs and charges. This amount must be paid by cash, certified funds or wire transfer.
  • Before filing a tax deed application, certificate holders must register with deedsupport@taxcollect.com or call us at 727-464-3409.
  • To begin a tax deed application, certificate holders must pay all outstanding taxes, an application fee and title search fee.
  • For more information, please contact us at 727-464-3409.

What is a tax deed application?
A tax deed application is the first step in the process of bringing a property to sale at a public auction due to unpaid delinquent real estate taxes.

Who/When can I initiate a tax deed application?
Certificate holders can initiate the tax deed application after two years from April 1 of the year the tax certificate was issued, as required by Florida law.

I have allowed the two-year redemption period. How do I initiate a tax deed application?
Please log on to DeedExpress to obtain an estimate and initiate tax deed on your eligible certificates.

What is a warning letter?
This is a courtesy letter our office mails to the property owner. These letters are mailed every February to taxpayers that are in jeopardy of their property going to tax deed sale. The warning letter gives a deadline for payment on approximately the 25th of the month. Once that deadline passes and taxes remain unpaid, the certificate holder may go forward with the tax deed application.

I have received a warning letter. Can the date be extended?
No. Once the deadline in the letter passes, the certificate holder may start the tax deed process anytime. Once tax deed begins, all outstanding taxes are rolled into one amount, plus any accrued interest, costs and charges. This combination will become the new amount due.

A tax deed has started on my property. Can I stop it by making payments?
No, once the tax deed action has started, all outstanding taxes at the time of application are rolled into one amount due. This must be paid in full, along with any accrued interest, costs and charges in order to stop the tax deed action.

I am not the current owner of the property, but if I pay the required tax amount before the auction, does that give me ownership?
No. Paying the required amount – also known as redeeming the tax deed – satisfies the lien and allows the current owner to retain ownership. If you are interested in owning the property, you need to contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court about becoming a bidder in the auction.

What are the accepted forms of payment to redeem a tax deed?
Payment must be made in cash, wire transfer or certified funds, payable to Charles W. Thomas Pinellas County Tax Collector. If you wish to make payment by wire transfer, please contact us at deedsupport@taxcollect.com for wiring instructions. We do not accept personal checks or credit cards for tax deed payments.

My property is in tax deed, and I just filed for bankruptcy, what do I need to do?
Please contact us immediately at 727-464-3409 or deedsupport@taxcollect.com for guidance. If you have a case number, please provide us with that information.

My property is in tax deed. What is the latest date I can pay to stop the sale from taking place?
To stop the sale, payment can be made in full anytime before the sale. Payment must be made with cash or certified funds made payable to Charles W. Thomas, Pinellas County Tax Collector.