A Tax Certificate is a first lien on property created by payment of the delinquent taxes due; it is not a purchase of property. Florida Statutes require the Tax Collector to conduct a sale of tax certificates beginning on or before June 1 for the preceding year of delinquent real estate taxes.
Prior to the Tax Certificate Sale, the Tax Collector must advertise the delinquent taxes for three (3) consecutive weeks in a local newspaper of general circulation. The amount of the certificate is the sum of the unpaid real estate taxes and the non ad valorem assessments, including 3% penalty, 5% Tax Collector's commission, and advertising costs.
Certificate bidding begins at an 18% interest rate and is bid down until the certificate is sold to the lowest bidder. Interest is paid at the rate of the winning bid. When a tax certificate is redeemed and the interest earned on the face amount is less than 5%, a mandatory charge of 5% interest is due, with the exception of "zero" interest bids, which always earn "zero" interest.
Tax Certificates on land which has been granted a homestead exemption for the year in which the delinquent taxes were assessed and which have a face value of less than $250 shall not be sold to the public at a tax certificate sale. These certificates shall be issued to the county and shall bear interest at 18% interest per year. Once the face value and accrued interest exceed $250, the certificate may be sold to an individual. The 5% minimum mandatory charge does not apply when a certificate is purchased from the county.
Tax Certificates are dated as of the first day of the tax certificate sale and expire after seven (7) years. Any tax certificate can be cancelled or reduced if errors, omissions, or double assessments are made.
With the electronic issuance of tax certificates, individual documents are no longer used. A certificate of ownership and a listing of certificates purchased are provided to each buyer.
All Tax Certificates must be redeemed by certified funds in US dollars. Failure by the property owner to redeem the certificate within the twenty-two (22) month period prescribed by law can result in the loss of the property at a Tax Deed Sale.