The numbers are in from Volusia County’s annual online sale of tax certificates, and the numbers show county government itself ended up purchasing a good number.
Altogether, as of May 31 when the auction ended, the county had collected more than $18 million in past-due taxes on parcels for which tax certificates were issued.
The taxes go not only to Volusia County government, but are also for cities, the School District, hospital districts and state taxing authorities such as the St. Johns River Water Management District, and include assessments for services like solid-waste collection and stormwater control.
The sale was conducted during May via the internet. Investors submitted bids stating the lowest interest rate they would accept for the service of paying taxes on a property and holding the certificate until being repaid with interest.
The bidding began at a high of 18-percent interest.
Generally, the more well-situated a property, the lower the interest rate. Obscure, hard-to-use or otherwise challenged properties will attract higher interest rates, because the certificate holder is less likely to be repaid by the owner or, if necessary, an auction of the property where many people compete to be the winning bidder.
Certificate-holders must wait three years before asking that a property be sold at auction so they can get their repayment.
A total of 12,864 properties were delinquent, meaning their owners had failed to pay the 2020 taxes due before the sale began. Investors bought tax certificates on 9,849 of those parcels.
As for the 3,015 properties for which no investors offered to pay the overdue taxes, the county became the purchaser of last resort. The tax certificates taken by the county government carry the maximum interest rate of 18 percent.
Those tax certificates now held by the county have a combined total value of nearly $414,000.
This is the first year in more than a half-century when the county’s tax-certificate sale was conducted by an elected tax collector.
A tax certificate is an investment bought by a person who agrees to pay the past-due taxes on a parcel of property, along with unpaid special assessments, fees and advertising costs, with the promise of recovering the amount paid, plus interest.
The unpaid taxes become a top-priority lien on the property, meaning the tax debt must be paid before the property may be sold.