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 News Briefs


Sale Primarily Conducted On Delinquent 2016 Real Estate Property Taxes

On June 1, 2017, the Tax Collector's Office held their annual real property tax certificate sale. This sale is held online every year to address the revenue shortfall created from delinquent taxes by selling tax certificates, which are tax liens, to willing investors. Investors in tax certificates assume some risk and plan to receive the principal and interest from delinquent taxpayers when the delinquent taxes are finally paid.

Joe G. Tedder, Tax Collector for Polk County, reports that from a total real estate tax roll of $503,766,155 at the beginning of the tax year, $18,985,386 went unpaid and was offered up for tax certificates on June 1, 2017.  Of this, 17,154 tax certificates were sold, for a total of $18,581,079 delinquent taxes collected, representing 97.8% of the unpaid balance of taxes owed, at an average interest rate to investors of 2.15%, a savings to those property owners with outstanding taxes still owing.  

At the conclusion of the online tax certificate sale, $404,307 in delinquent tax certificates remains unsold, compared to $1,874,422 a year ago. For the 2016 tax year, the total real estate tax roll collected, including the tax certificate sale is $502,843,096, representing a 99.8 % collection rate.  

On July 3, 2017, these county-held tax certificates will be available for review and purchase at

For more information, please go to


For The Month Of May Drawing!

The Tax Collector's Office is pleased to announce our first month Express Pick Up Sweepstakes winners! They are Alia Clare Stokes, seen here with Tax Collector employee Dawn Robinson, and Rene Hernandez, pictured here with his happy family, both picking up their $100 Publix Gift Cards as the winners of the May 2017 drawing!

You too can win! Each month we will be drawing 2 names and awarding two $100 Publix gift cards. Just make sure that you use Express Pick-Up when you renew your vehicle registration, due on your birthday! For more information, go to




Tax Office Recently Moved to Require Appointments for Written Tests

The Tax Collector’s Office for Polk County has developed an appointment system for driver license customers needing to take a written test. Back in 2015, an appointment system was developed for anyone needing a road test in order to receive a driver license.  Beginning June 1, Polk County residents seeking to take a written test to obtain a Florida driver license will be required to make an appointment with the Tax Collector’s Office. Appointments are now required for general knowledge (Class E), commercial driver licenses (CDL), road and verbal testing.

“With the influx of driver license transactions in our office,” states Joe Tedder, Tax Collector, “we continue to look for ways to streamline services for Polk County residents.  The expansion of our appointment system to include written tests will allow all of our customers to be served more timely.”

The Tax Collector’s Office currently averages approximately 270 written and 225 road tests county-wide per week at their service centers.  When unscheduled, these transactions can be very time consuming, which impact customer service by increasing wait-times for those seeking other transactions performed at the Tax Collector’s Office.  

The Tax Collector’s Office developed the appointment system as one step to address the length of customer service wait-times and to better manage walk-in traffic at its Service Centers. Appointments for both written and road tests are only available for Polk County residents.

The Tax Collector’s Office also advises that general knowledge driver license written tests are also conveniently available online. For more information visit


The Tax Collector's Office will be closed in observance of Memorial Day on Monday, May 29. Our office will resume regular business hours on Tuesday, May 30, 2016.

The Tax Collector's Office is proud to observe Memorial Day, which commemorates the men and women who died while in our military's service.


Appointments Are Now Available For License Applications and Renewals    

BARTOW, Florida/PR Free/May 19, 2017

Joe G. Tedder, Tax Collector, announces the Tax Collector’s Office is now providing Concealed Weapon License application and renewal services on an appointment only basis at its Lakeland and Lake Wales Service Centers. Appointments are made at the Tax Collector’s Office official website,

Upon announcing the new service offerings, Tedder stated, “I am grateful for all that Commissioner Putnam and his staff have done to help our office bring these state services to the citizens of Polk County. Previously, our constituents had to travel outside Polk County to get these services.”  

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam partnered with Tedder and tax collectors throughout Florida to pass legislation allowing selected tax collector offices to accept concealed weapon license applications and renewals.

Tedder continued, “We are fortunate Commissioner Putnam and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recognized Polk’s unique geography and population when approving our office to provide application and renewal services at two locations.”

Citizens of Florida who are interested in obtaining or renewing a concealed weapons license in Polk County should visit to get the information they need to complete a license application, conduct a renewal transaction, and make an appointment. 


The Tax Collector's Office and its Enforcement team are in the news regarding their efforts in the area of Tourist Development Taxes.
Click on the following link to reead The Ledger article:


Taxpayers Urged to Pay Now and Avoid High Traffic Volume

Joe G. Tedder, CFC, Tax Collector for Polk County, advises taxpayers who have not paid their 2016 property taxes, to consider mailing in their property tax payments. That’s because Friday, March 31 is not only the end of the month, but it is the deadline for the timely payment of 2016 real estate and tangible personal property taxes, which makes it one of the busiest days in the Tax Collector's Service Centers.

“The end of the month is always a busy day in our Service Centers,” Tedder states, “and now with tax collector offices serving driver license customers and continuing to serve those individuals needing to renew their vehicle registrations, we are reminding the public that there are multiple ways to conduct their transaction without conducting a transaction in person.”

“If you don’t need to be in our lobbies, I urge you to ‘skip the trip’,” Tedder suggests, “especially if you can mail in your property tax payment.  For those of you with March birthdays and have a simple vehicle registration renewal, I suggest that you avoid walking in as well, and instead consider doing your transaction online or by mail.  We want the public to know that it is far quicker, easier and at the same cost, especially if you are like most of us and wait till the last day.  You can still get your ‘sticker quicker’ by using the new ‘Express Pick-Up’ service.”

Express Pick-Up allows customers to go online to complete their transaction, select a Service Center where they can pick up their decal, and do it all the same day without waiting in line.  Vehicle transactions conducted online may be made by credit card or E-check.  E-checks are the same as personal checks drawn on taxpayers’ bank accounts, requiring a routing and checking account number but carrying no convenience fee.

To summarize, taxpayers have the following options of making property tax payments: online, by mail, or in person.

Mail-in payments should be addressed to Joe G. Tedder, Tax Collector for Polk County, P.O. Box 1189, Bartow, Florida, 33831-1189.  Mail-in payments may be made by way of a check or money order made payable to Joe G. Tedder, Tax Collector. Checks must be in U.S. funds and drawn on U.S. banks. (Do not send cash through the mail.) Mail-in credit card payments are also accepted when accompanied by a credit card payment slip provided by the Tax Collector's Office. Taxpayers are reminded that when mailing in payments, the postmark on the envelope date-stamps the payment, and taxpayers can still mail their property tax payments as late as Friday, March 31 and avoid penalties and late charges.

Property tax payment transactions may also be conducted online at using E-checks or credit cards. However, when paying online, by mail, or when visiting a Service Center and using a credit/debit card, a convenience fee of 2.5% is charged.

Finally, property tax payments may be paid in person or by placing payments in drop boxes located inside the Service Centers, and at the Winter Haven Tag Agency, located at 300 Avenue M, N.W., all of which are open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday (excluding weekends and observed holidays).

For additional information, or service center locations, please visit or telephone the Tax Collector's Office at (863) 534-4700.


Build Your Imagination Awards

On Friday, March 17, 6 students were recognized for their outstanding designs, at the fourth annual LEGOLAND®Florida Resort Build Your Imagination Awards, hosted by Adrian Jones, Divisional Director for Legoland®and Joe Tedder, the Tax Collector for Polk County and honorary Chairman for Kids Tag Art.

The event was held at the Legoland Hotel in Winter Haven, Florida, where students, teachers and their families were invited for the awards announcement and reception which followed.

The Build Your Imagination Award is a juried competition, as part of the Polk County Kids Tag Art program. LEGOLAND® Florida Resort selects multiple award winners across participating schools in Polk County whose creative designs best demonstrate their imagination using the Legoland theme. The honorees will have their tags placed on the front bumpers of the LEGOLAND® Florida vehicles, and their Kids Tag Art displayed at the Ford Driving School classroom for 12 months.

The following finalists were recognized for their artistic achievement::


Build Your Imagination Awards for 2017

  1st Place – Kaleigh Salmon

 Lakeland Christian School, Emily Johnson, Instructor

2nd Place – Joshua Haines  

   Davenport School of the Arts, Devon Deans, Instructor

3rd Place – Vanessa Derosa  

  Dixieland Elementary, Cheryl Dale, Instructor

4th Place – Dylan Sox   

  Berkley Charter, Brian Nelsen, Instructor

5th Place – Jonathan Dorsey   

  Chain of Lakes Elementary , Gerilyn Stark-Jerry, Jamaal Gamble, Instructors

6th Place – Yasiel Sihombing   

   Cleveland Court Elementary, Marilyn Dailey, Instructor



Renewing Your Vehicle Registration - Use Express Pickup - Avoid The Wait And Get Your Sticker Quicker!

The Tax Collector’s Office is experiencing longer than normal customer wait times during the months of February and March.

Compounding the problem is cold and flu season, which has had an impact on staff. Moreover, Federal income tax refunds are hitting the mail boxes, which allows many more people to pay outstanding bills, including driver license sanctions and tax liens.

Given this situation, the Tax Collector’s Office recommends that its customers use mail and online services, including Express PickUp, whenever possible.

There are no extra fees when using mail or many online services, including vehicle registration renewals and Express PickUp.

Go to for online payment services, including Express PickUp, and to see our current office wait times.

Remember, if you need it today, Express PickUp is the way to go to get your sticker quicker!


Tax Collector Staff Will Attend All Day Training

On Monday, February 20, 2017, Tax Collector Service Centers throughout Polk County will be closed for business.  The American Legion Tag Agency in Winter Haven will be open however, though only for motor vehicle transactions.  Tax Collector Offices will reopen on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 during normal business hours.

Traditionally, the Tax Collector’s Office has used this federal holiday for in-service training.  “Since many financial institutions and federal offices are closed on this day, most taxpayers believe that county offices are closed also,” states Joe Tedder. “It makes sense to use this low-traffic day for training rather than incurring additional overhead with an after-hours training.  In this way, we can improve customer service skills in order to meet the customer’s expectation for accurate and knowledgeable service while also saving taxpayer money.”

To access Tax Collector's News for 2014 to present, click here

To access Tax Collector's News for 2013 and earlier, click here