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Property tax deadline is Sunday

By Staff | Mar 28, 2019

The deadline to pay both real estate and tangible property taxes on time is fast approaching.

March 31 is the last day to pay on time.

“They are delinquent on April 1,” said Lee County Tax Collector Customer Support Manager Marsha Sullivan, adding that additional fees will be owed on and after this date. “They would have until May 20 to pay before we would sell a tax certificate for those taxes unpaid.”

As of Wednesday morning there were 57,748 unpaid real estate tax bills. This number has been typical for the last three years, Sullivan said.

“It hasn’t gone up, or down, significantly. It may have been a little less, or a little more,” she said.

For unpaid tangible taxes, warrants can be issued. Once ratified by the courts, the warrant gives the office the right to sell assets to meet delinquent taxes. As of Wednesday morning there were 1,782 tangible personal property accounts that had not yet been paid for 2018.

Those who still need to pay their taxes can do so by visiting www.leetc.com.

“If they are paying right now before they are delinquent they can pay through their checking account prior to April 1,” she said. That does not require an additional fee.

Payments can also be made with a credit card with a fee. Those payments can be made online, at the Lee County Tax Collector’s office, or over the phone.

“This Friday will be the last working day for them to come into the office and pay,” Sullivan said. “They can go online and pay March 30 and March 31.”

If payments are sent through the mail it has be postmarked by March 31 for the March payment to be accepted as on time. Anything after April 1 will go by the received date.

Substantial discounts are extended for early payment, up to 4 percent if they are paid when the tax bills go out in November, according to Florida Statute 197.162. The discount decreases 1 percent per month, with no discount in March.

November is the busiest month of the year, as 342,895 payments were received, which represents more than 62 percent, according to the Tax Collector’s Office.

Things remain busy in December as people pay their taxes as a way to reduce their income tax burden.

The number tends to slow in January and February before ramping up again in March.

A 3 percent mandatory interest charge is added to the amount due after April 1. If the taxes remain unpaid, the delinquent property will be advertised once a week for three consecutive weeks prior to the tax certificate sale and the advertising fee will be added to the tax bill.

Taxpayers have an option to pay their taxes in installments. Taxes are paid in three equal payments, with a small discount applied to them.

It’s too late to apply for this year. To apply for the new tax year, applications must be submitted by April 30.

Customers can also make partial payments on current taxes, but there is a $10 processing fee and this method is used very rarely.

If the taxes remain unpaid, the property is at risk of having a tax certificate issued. The tax certificate sale is not a sale for the purchase of the property, but rather the purchase of a lien for the delinquent taxes, interest, costs and charges for the property described in the certificate.

The property holder has two years to redeem the tax certificate before he/she is in danger of losing the property.

If the taxes still aren’t paid, the certificate holder has to take action on what to do with the home, so they would apply for a tax deed.

At that point, a tax deed is applied for through the Clerk of Court’s office. Throughout the process, people are notified and the property owner will still have the opportunity to pay the taxes.

The preferred way to pay is online at the Lee County Tax Collector official website: www.leetc.com.

Again, they accept payments via a credit card or through your bank account. Credit card payments come with a convenience fee.

People can also call the office at 533-6000 and pay over the phone with a credit card, or checks can be mailed to the Lee County Tax Collector, at P.O. Box 1609 , Fort Myers, FL 33902.

People can also go to the numerous tax collection offices in Lee County. The Cape Coral office is at 1039 S.E. 9th Ave. and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except for holiday closings)

Taxes are also due on tangible personal property, which are typically paid by larger companies on assets.

In November, 5,945 tangible payments were received.

Tangible personal property tax is a tax based on businesses for furnishings, fixtures, signs, supplies, and equipment used in the operation of business, and rental furnishings such as furnishings and appliances provided in a rental unit.

As of April 1, a 1.5 percent penalty, collection fees and advertising fees are added to the gross amount due.