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On-time property tax payment deadline March 31

By Staff | Mar 27, 2015

Thirteen percent of real estate taxes have yet to be paid in Lee County as Tuesday’s on-time payment deadline approaches.

Lee County Tax Collector Customer Support Manager Marsha Sullivan said as of Tuesday, March 24, the 2014 taxes for 87 percent, or 468,155 properties, have been paid. Taxes for 13 percent, or 69,394 properties, are still outstanding.

Sullivan said real estate taxes are due as soon as the certified role has been provided from the property appraiser to the tax collector.

“Generally that is on or before Nov. 1,” she said.

If the taxes are paid in the month of November, individuals receive the maximum discount of 4 percent. Discounts are also provided in December at 3 percent, January at 2 percent and February at 1 percent. Sullivan said in March the total amount of taxes is due with no discount.

“Taxes become delinquent on April 1,” she said of real estate and tangible personal property taxes.

There are two payment options offered – the Installment Payment Plan and a Partial Payment.

The installment plan application must be turned in to the tax collector before April 30 to be considered for the plan which offers discounts and four installment payments.

Although the Partial Payment plan allows multiple payments, it does not apply to delinquent taxes.

If taxes are not paid, a tax certificate, which is a first lien against the property, is issued. The certificate earns interest which is paid to the certificate holder when the property owner pays the back taxes and accrued charges.

Loss of property can occur if an individual fails to redeem a tax certificate. By law, if a certificate is not redeemed within two years from the date the taxes became delinquent, the certificate holder may apply for a tax deed, and bring the land to sale at a public auction.

There is a small window for late payment. Property owners have until May 20 to pay before a tax certificate may be sold.

“Anything unpaid by May 20, we will sell the certificate,” Sullivan said.

Following legal notice, a public auction is then held on or before June every year to collect delinquent taxes and non-ad valorem assessments, interest, costs and fees.

“Once a tax certificate is issued then the owner of the property is required to pay 3 percent interest in advertising cost for real estate and any interest that is due for that certificate once it is issued,” she said.

Once the certificate is two years old from April 1 of the year it is issued, the certificate holder can apply for a tax deed application. Sullivan said it then goes to the Clerk of Circuit Court to hold a date to sell the property. The property is sold at a public auction to the highest bidder.

All tax deed auctions are held online, with information regarding the auction rules, upcoming sales and bidder requirements. Either a $200 deposit or 5 percent of the bid is due on the winning bid.