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General Questions

When are tax bills mailed?

  • The last business day of October every year.
  • Taxes can be paid from Nov. 1 through March 31.
  • They become delinquent on April 1, at which time interest and other applicable costs are added to the gross tax amount.

 

How do I sign up to receive my tax bill by email?

  • You can do that online!
  • When you sign up, you have the option of receiving only an email bill or receiving both a mailed bill and an email bill.
  • If you do not sign up for emailed billing, you will continue to receive your bill by regular mail.

 

How do I change my mailing address for my tax bill?

  • This is handled by the property appraiser’s office, not the tax collector’s office.
  • Please visit the Property Appraiser’s website or call them at 727-464-3207.

 

Why aren’t all property owners listed on the bill?

 

My mortgage company pays my taxes. Why did I receive a bill?

  • If your taxes are escrowed, they should be included in your mortgage payments and your mortgage company would pay them in November. Check your bill to see if it indicates that it is an informational notice and it was also sent to the mortgage company to be paid.
  • If you received the actual tax bill, then the mortgage company/escrow agent did not request the bill for payment.
    • Check with your mortgage company/escrow agent to ensure they received a copy of the tax bill and that they will be paying the bill.
    • You can send a copy of your tax bill to the mortgage company/escrow agent, or they can print a duplicate bill from our website.

 

What does “Prior Year Taxes Due” mean?

  • There are delinquent taxes on the property.
  • Delinquent taxes continue to accrue interest each month until paid.

I have declared bankruptcy. Am I responsible for my property taxes?

  • Consult your bankruptcy attorney for advice on your situation.
  • In many cases, if you still own the property and do not surrender it to the trustee or the court, you remain responsible for the taxes. 

Delinquent Taxes

How can I pay my delinquent taxes?

  • Cash, cashier’s check, money order, credit card, or wire transfer made payable to Pinellas County Tax Collector.
  • Personal checks are not accepted.

 

Can I make payment arrangements?

  • Florida law prohibits partial payments of delinquent real estate taxes.

 

Do you honor the postmark for delinquent taxes?

  • The law mandates that delinquent real estate tax payments must be received in our office by the last working day of the month for which interest is being paid.

Installment Payment Plan

What are the qualifications for the installment payment plan?

  • Florida Law requires that your estimated taxes be more than $100 per tax notice to participate in the installment payment plan.

 

How do I get on the installment payment plan?

 

I’m on the installment payment plan. Do I have to reapply every year?

  • After submission of an initial application, additional annual applications are not required, as long as the first quarterly payment is made each year.

 

How can I obtain an application?

Tangible Personal Property Taxes

What happens when tangible taxes are not paid?

  • Beginning April 1, unpaid accounts accrue interest at 1.5 % a month, plus additional costs.
  • According to Florida law, the names of people or businesses with unpaid tangible personal property taxes are advertised in the newspaper. The cost of advertising is added to the delinquent tax bill.
  • A written lien (also called a warrant) is then issued on all unpaid accounts, and a certified notice is sent to the owner named on the tax roll. 
  • If taxes are still not paid, the tax collector must petition the Circuit Court to have a judge “confirm” the warrant that authorizes the tax collector to seize and sell the personal property to pay the taxes. The court costs are added to the delinquent tax bill, along with a delinquent collection fee of 15%.
  • If the property cannot be located or is sold for less than the amount due, all other personal property of the taxpayer is subject to seizure and sale.

 

Who is responsible for the tax if the property is bought or sold?

  • The tangible personal property tax bill is issued to the owner of the property as of January 1 of the tax year assessed. The owner is responsible for the tax bill for that year
  • Any proration of the taxes must be handled between the buyer and seller.
  • Even though the warrant is issued in the owner’s name, it is important to note that the “lien” attaches to the tangible property.
  • If taxes remain unpaid, this lien survives the sale or transfer of the property. Therefore, it is very important to verify that tangible taxes are paid prior to the purchase of a business or rental property.

Tax Certificate Sale

What are tax certificates?

  • Interest-bearing first liens representing unpaid delinquent real estate property taxes that are offered for sale by the tax collector.
  • Tax certificates are not recorded liens nor are they reported to any credit bureaus. They are a priority lien.
  • A tax certificate sale is a public auction for investors to earn interest on paying other people’s property taxes.
    • A certificate is auctioned off to the bidder who is willing to accept the lowest interest rate.

 

How can a tax certificate be sold on my property?

  • Florida law requires that the tax collector sell tax certificates on properties with unpaid taxes on or before June 1.
  • A tax certificate sale is a public auction for investors to earn interest on paying other people’s property taxes.
    • A certificate is auctioned off to the bidder who is willing to accept the lowest interest rate.
    • If there are no bids on a particular certificate, it is “struck off” to the county at 18%, the highest interest rate allowed by Florida law.

 

If I buy a certificate, can I pay the taxes and own the property?

  • You have not purchased property. A tax certificate is an investment.
    • This investment does not convey any property rights or ownership to the certificate holder.
    • A certificate holder is an investor and the purpose of purchasing certificates is to earn interest on your investment, not buy the property.

 

Who can participate in the tax certificate sale?

  • To participate in the sale, a bidder must register with the tax Collector’s office via lienhub.com.
  • A bidder number is assigned for identification purposes during the sale.
    • Bidders are required to make a deposit via Automated Clearing House (ACH) debit on lienhub.com.
    • Registered bidders must provide their federal taxpayer identification number or Social Security number.
    • Only one bidder per taxpayer ID/Social Security number will be allowed to register.
    • All interest earned will be reported to the IRS on form 1099-int.

 

What is the life of a tax certificate?

  • Certificates are null and void seven years from the date of issuance, and they continue to accrue interest until they are redeemed.
  • If the certificate has not been redeemed after two years, the certificate holder may apply for a tax deed sale to have the property sold at auction.

Tax Deed Sales

What is a tax deed application?

  • The first step in the process of bringing a property to sale at a public auction due to unpaid delinquent real estate taxes.

Who/When can I initiate a tax deed application?

  • Certificate holders can initiate the tax deed application after two years from April 1 of the year the tax certificate was issued, as required by Florida law.

 

I have allowed the two-year redemption period. How do I initiate a tax deed application?

  • Please log on to LienHub to obtain an estimate and initiate tax deed on your eligible certificates.

 

What is a warning letter?

  • This is a courtesy letter our office mails to the property owner.
  • These letters are mailed every February to taxpayers that are in jeopardy of their property going to tax deed sale.
  • The warning letter gives a deadline of the last business day in March. Once that deadline passes and taxes remain unpaid, the certificate holder may go forward with the tax deed application.

 

I have received a warning letter. Can the date be extended?

  • Once the deadline in the letter passes, the certificate holder may start the tax deed process anytime.
  • Once tax deed begins, all outstanding taxes are rolled into one amount, plus any accrued interest, cost, and charges. This combination will become the new amount due.

 

A tax deed has started on my property. Can I stop it by making payments?

  • No, once the tax deed action has started, all outstanding taxes at the time of application are rolled into one amount due.
  • This must be paid in full, along with any accrued interest, cost, and charges to stop the tax deed action.

 

I am not the current owner of the property, but if I pay the required tax amount before the auction, does that give me ownership?

  • Paying the required amount – also known as redeeming the tax deed – satisfies the lien and allows the current owner to retain ownership.
  • If you are interested in owning the property, you need to contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court about becoming a bidder in the auction.

 

What are the accepted forms of payment to redeem a tax deed?

  • Payment must be made in cash, wire transfer, or certified funds, payable to Charles W. Thomas, Pinellas County Tax Collector.
  • If you wish to make a payment by wire transfer, please follow these instructions. If you have questions or need assistance with your wire transfer, please email deedsupport@taxcollect.com.
  • We do not accept personal checks or credit cards for tax deed payments.

 

My property is in tax deed, and I just filed for bankruptcy, what do I need to do?

  • Please contact us immediately at 727-464-3409 or deedsupport@taxcollect.com for guidance. If you have a case number, please provide us with that information.

 

My property is in tax deed. What is the latest date I can pay to stop the sale from taking place?

  • To stop the sale, payment can be made in full any time before the sale. Payment must be made with cash or certified funds made payable to Charles W. Thomas, Pinellas County Tax Collector.

Bankruptcy

What is a bankruptcy discharge?

  • It releases you from personal liability for discharged debts. Thus, it prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any action against you to collect the debts.
  • Most, but not all, types of debts are discharged if they existed on the date the bankruptcy case was filed and were listed on the schedules.
  • Bankruptcy law regarding the scope of a discharge is complex, and you should consult competent legal counsel prior to filing.

 

Does a discharge in bankruptcy discharge my real estate or tangible personal property taxes?

  • Your bankruptcy is personal to you while the lien for real property and tangible personal property taxes is a “first and superior lien” on the property assessed (a secured debt collateralized by property).
  • If your homestead under the bankruptcy code is claimed as exempt, then you will still be responsible for the taxes plus accrued interest and if the property becomes part of the bankruptcy estate, then the tax collector will look to the trustee or the debtor’s plan for payment of taxes.
  • If the trustee abandons the property, then the tax collector will look to the property itself to satisfy the outstanding taxes in accordance with state statutes.

 

Can my homestead be sold for back taxes while my bankruptcy case is pending?

  • No, provided that the property was listed on your schedule at the time of the bankruptcy filing.
  • The automatic stay provisions of the bankruptcy code prevent any actions to collect taxes during the bankruptcy proceedings. However, interest on the unpaid taxes will continue to accrue during the bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Once a discharge is entered on real property claimed as homestead the taxes will become due and payable and state law applies.

 

My Chapter 13 plan is supposed to cover my taxes. How is the tax collector paid?

  • The Court Order confirming your Chapter 13 plan will indicate if the tax collector is to be paid for outstanding real or tangible personal property taxes.
  • If the tax collector’s claim is covered by your confirmation order, then the tax collector should be receiving payment from the Chapter 13 Trustee in accordance with the court order.
  • You should check with your bankruptcy attorney to ascertain whether real and/or tangible personal property taxes are covered by your Chapter 13 plan.

 

Does filing of a bankruptcy petition stop a tax deed auction that has been scheduled for delinquent real property taxes?

  • Yes, provided that the property was listed on your schedule at the time of your bankruptcy filing and the tax collector’s office has been noticed by the court, your attorney, or yourself with the bankruptcy case number.
  • The filing of a bankruptcy petition invokes the automatic stay prescribed by the bankruptcy code and no collection or enforcement efforts can continue from the time of filing until the automatic stay is lifted or discharge or dismissal of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Millage Rates

What are millage rates?

  • A Florida Homeowner's Guide: Millage
  • The amount per $1,000 used to calculate property taxes
  • Millage rates are set by the Board of County Commissioners, School Board, cities in Pinellas County, and other taxing authorities
  • The tax collector’s office does not set millage rates
  • View past years’ millage rates below:

Tourist Development

What is the tourist development (TD) tax?

  • A 6% tax charged on the total rental amount from any person who rents, leases, or lets any living quarter or sleeping or housekeeping accommodation.
  • These taxes are regulated by State Law (Florida Statute 125.0104).
  • In Pinellas County, the Board of County Commissioners determines the distribution of revenue from the tourist development tax.
  • One of the primary recipients of the revenue is the  St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which works to promote and advertise tourism for Pinellas County.

 

Are there any other taxes and/or fees?

 

Who is required to pay?

  • Any renter staying for a period of six months or less in Pinellas County.

 

How do I sign up?

 

How often do I have to file a return?

  • You can file on a monthly or quarterly basis.
    • Monthly filing is useful for rentals available throughout the year
    • For monthly rentals, tax returns are required each month
    • Quarterly filing requires tax returns four times a year, however, the total of each quarter cannot exceed $300
    • Even if you have zero rentals for a month or quarter, a zero-tax return must be submitted to avoid a late charge

 

What is a collection allowance?

  • Owners who file their tax return in a timely manner and pay online are entitled to keep 2.5% of the tax collected (maximum of $30) as compensation.
  • If you would like to file and pay online, please contact us at 727-464-5007 or touristtax@taxcollect.com.

 

Are any renters exempt from the tax?

  • Anyone who is exempt from paying sales tax will also be exempt from paying tourist development tax.
  • Visit our exemptions page for a full list of exemptions <<link to page>>
  • Please contact 727-464-5007 or touristtax@taxcollect.com for more details.

 

 

What if I have a long-term renter – do I still have to pay?

  • Renters who have signed a bona fide written lease for over six months are exempt.
  • Renters who have paid the tourist development tax for the first six months (without a lease) will become exempt on the seventh month and remain exempt if they continue to reside at the same place.

 

If I rent to a resident of Florida or to a Pinellas County resident, do I have to collect the tourist development tax?

  • Yes – this tax is applicable to all guests who rent accommodations for six months or less, whether they are Florida or Pinellas residents or not.

 

I allow friends and relatives to use my property during the year. Am I required to collect the tourist development tax from them?

  • If you collect rent or accept any other form of compensation in place of rent, you are required to register with our office and collect and turn over the tax.

 

 

A rental agent always handles my rental property. Do I still need to apply for an account and submit monthly tax returns?

  • The rental agent should have an account to report and remit the taxes. However, as the property owner, you are ultimately responsible for the required tax to be in paid if the rental agent fails to do so.

 

 

If I use a rental agent but also rent periodically on my own, do I need my own account – or can I give the taxes to my rental agent?

  • No – you cannot give the taxes you collected to a third party. If you are collecting taxes, you must have a registered account of your own.

 

 

How do I close an account or update account info?

  • All account request must be made in writing and submitted to our office:
    • By mail:
      • Charles W. Thomas, CFC
        Pinellas County Tax Collector
        P.O. Box 6440
        Clearwater, FL 33758-6440
    • By fax:
      • 727-453-3193
    • By email: 

 

When is a Power of Attorney necessary?

  • A signed Power of Attorney form is necessary if you would like our offices to discuss your account with someone who is not an owner, officer, or partner (like an accountant, attorney, or bookkeeper).

 

Do I have to file a tax return even if I don’t owe any tax?

  • Yes – Florida law requires a tax return to be filed based on the collection period, regardless of amount due.
  • Remember – a late tax return is subject to a $50 minimum penalty – even if there is no tax due.

 

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

  • Penalties can become costly if the taxes are not remitted properly and on time
  • If the tax return is delinquent, the following penalties apply:
    • A flat 10% penalty or $50 minimum penalty due on the total tax collected each month
    • A floating rate of interest is added for each day of delinquency
    • Charges for returned checks range from $25 - $50, depending on the amount of the check

 

What are the penalties for not collecting and remitting the tax as required?

  • Penalties may include and are not limited to a warrant being issued and filed – creating a lien against the owner’s real and/or personal property in Pinellas County.
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