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Navigating the Sunshine State’s Property Taxes: Deadlines, Discounts, and Avoiding Foreclosure

Florida, with its beautiful weather and sandy beaches, attracts not only tourists but also residents seeking a permanent paradise. However, paradise comes with a price tag, and a significant portion of that tag is property taxes. As a Florida real estate attorney, I get many questions from clients about property taxes, especially regarding deadlines, discounts, and the dreaded tax deed sale. Let’s break down the key things you need to know:

Understanding the Bill: Florida property taxes are assessed annually based on the property’s just value on January 1st. The county property appraiser determines this value, and you’ll receive a Notice of Proposed Property Taxes in August. After local governments set their budgets, the county tax collector sends the final tax bill in late October or November.

Discounts and Deadlines: Paying your property taxes on time comes with benefits! Florida offers a discount for early payment, typically around 4% if paid during the month of November, 3% if paid during December, 2% if paid during January, and 1% if paid during February. There is no discount for paying in March, and are due by March 31st. Don’t miss these deadlines!

Delinquency and Tax Certificates: If your property tax remains unpaid after March 31st, it becomes delinquent. Interest penalties will accrue. If your taxes still remain unpaid as of June 1, a tax certificate will be issued on your property. This certificate represents the outstanding tax amount plus interest and fees.

Tax Deed Sales: Act Fast to Avoid Losing Your Property!

If the tax certificate remains unpaid for two years the property can be sold via a tax deed sale, which is public auction. At this public auction, the county sells the tax certificate to the highest bidder.

Homeowners with Mortgages: Escrow to the Rescue (Usually)

Thankfully, for most homeowners with a mortgage, there’s a safety net. If your mortgage includes an escrow component, it likely includes the collection for and payment of your real property taxes. In fact, if your lender is escrowing for your property taxes, it is required by Florida Statute § 501.137(1) to “promptly pay” the property taxes early enough “so that the maximum tax discount available may be obtained with regard to the taxable property.” Yay for escrow.

Don’t Be a Stranger: We Can Help!

While the escrow process should ensure your property taxes are paid on time, it’s always wise to review your mortgage statements and tax bills to confirm everything is in order. If you have any concerns about your property taxes, potential delinquency, or the looming threat of a tax deed sale, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified Florida real estate attorney. We can help you navigate the complexities of property taxes, protect your rights, and ensure you stay in your Sunshine State haven. Contact us today.

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