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Volusia County’s annual sale of tax certificates resulted in the auction of 11,488 tax certificates to investors, and the county and other taxing authorities received almost $17.5 million that otherwise may not have been collected. 

Another 868 tax certificates were not sold, and thus the county became the owner of last resort.

That compares with the sale of 9,849 tax certificates last year and the collection of nearly $18.6 million in taxes. The amounts collected include additional fees and the costs of advertising.

The sale of tax certificates began in late May and concluded May 31. The auction took place via the internet, using the site LienHub. Those interested in purchasing tax certificates would submit bids on the lowest interest rates acceptable to them, with the bids starting at a high of 18 percent.

The tax certificates are issued to obtain the payment of delinquent property taxes. Under Florida law, ad valorem taxes, along with special assessments imposed on property owners, are payable between November and March of the following year. Taxes not paid by March 31 become delinquent, and the owners of the property become liable for interest and penalties on top of the principal. 

The unpaid taxes become a lien, or debt, on the property. Any lien or unpaid debt against the property must be cleared before the property may be sold. 

In the case of tax certificates, the property owners must repay the certificate holders. If the tax debt is not paid within two years, the holder of the tax certificate may apply for a tax deed, and the property may be sold at auction to satisfy the debt. 

Tax certificates have a maximum life of seven years. If the owner does not collect the tax debt owed, including the interest, by the end of that term, he/she may not recover his/her investment.

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