If you are having financial difficulties, especially during the pandemic, you might resort to putting off paying your property taxes. There are many tax sales and foreclosure moratoria happening all over the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns. And many counties are choosing to suspend property tax sales and tax foreclosures during the pandemic. We recommend contacting your county treasurer’s office or tax collector’s office or searching online to determine if your county or area currently has a moratorium in place.
If you are currently falling behind on paying property tax payments on your home, keep in mind that there could be consequences, including losing your property. The taxing authority could choose to sell your home, through a foreclosure process, in order to satisfy your property tax debt. The taxing authority could also sell the tax lien that it holds and the purchaser can choose to foreclose. Often, the loan servicer advances funds to pay off the delinquent taxes and bills the homeowner for these advance funds. If the homeowner does not reimburse the loan servicer, the servicer can then foreclose on the property.
You might be wondering exactly how long can property taxes go unpaid in Broward County, Florida and what the consequences are for not paying your property taxes, especially during the pandemic. During this guide, we will address property taxes, delinquent taxes, what happens when your taxes become delinquent and how long can property taxes go unpaid before you experience major consequences.
Understanding property taxes and tax liens
Need a refresher on property taxes and tax liens and what they are used for? Any owners of the property, including residential homes, need to pay property taxes. These property taxes fund a number of different services that your local government provides, including schools, libraries, roads, parks and more. The amount of tax due is typically based on the assessed value of the home.
In most cases, a loan servicer will collect property taxes on behalf of the lender as part of the monthly mortgage payment and then pay the taxes on behalf of the homeowner through an escrow account. If the taxes are not collected and paid through escrow, then the homeowner needs to pay the taxes on their own. When the homeowner fails to pay their property taxes, the delinquent amount becomes a lien on the home.
Once a property tax lien is on the home, the taxing authority might choose to hold a tax sale, similar to a foreclosure sale. The two primary kinds of tax sales include tax deed sales and tax lien certificate sales. In a tax deed sale, the taxing authority directly sells the home and the purchaser receives a deed to the property. In a tax lien certificate sale, the taxing authority sells the tax lien and the purchaser receives the right to collect any debt, including penalties and interest. If the delinquent amounts are not paid after a certain amount of time, the purchaser can either foreclose or follow procedures to convert the certificate into a deed. In some jurisdictions, a sale is not held, but instead, the taxing authority executes the lien by taking title to the home. State law offers a procedure for the authority to dispose of the home, usually through selling it.
What happens when my taxes become delinquent in Florida?
According to Florida law, property taxes typically become delinquent if they are not paid by March 31 of each year. Any and all property taxes that are unpaid as of April 1 will have a 3 percent delinquency interest and advertising fees applied to the amount that is unpaid. There is also a 1.5 percent per month interest for tangible taxes. What else should you know about how long can property taxes go unpaid and what consequences you might experience when property taxes are unpaid?
Here are a few things to know about unpaid property taxes:
- Partial payments are not accepted. You should also know that partial payments are not accepted for delinquent taxes and delinquent tax payments are posted as of the date they are received, rather than the date they are mailed or postmarked. So make sure to get those taxes paid and mailed as soon as possible.
- Tax collectors conduct tax certificate auctions. Either on or before June 1, the tax collector is required to conduct a tax certificate auction of any and all qualified, unpaid delinquent real estate accounts. At this tax certificate auction, investors pay off the property taxes in order to gain the tax certificate. Getting the tax certificate means that the investor has a lien on the property and earns any interest on the property taxes. Keep in mind that the winning bidder or investor does not actually have any property rights. Instead, they simply earn the interest paid on delinquent property taxes.
- The taxpayer must pay off taxes, plus interest and other fees. Once the tax certificate is sold at auction, the taxpayer must pay all of the delinquent taxes, as well as any accrued interest, advertising costs and fees in order to get the tax certificate. These taxes and other interest and fees must be paid in cash, certified funds or wire transfer payments, and interest continues to accrue on the property taxes until the tax certificate is redeemed.
- What happens if delinquent taxes are unpaid for two years. If you are unable to pay off your delinquent taxes for at least two years, then the tax certificate holder or investor is allowed to file a tax deed application. This means that your property can be sold at a tax deed sale, so that the investor or winning bidder can earn back their investment costs, according to Florida Statute 197.502.
So you will begin experiencing major consequences from unpaid property taxes two years after your taxes become delinquent. If you need legal assistance or advice regarding your delinquent or unpaid property taxes, visit or contact the Van Horn Law Group’s website here.