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 News Briefs


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.”


...And The Winner Is!

Congratulations to Shirley Brettell for submitting a completed questionnaire in the Tax Collector's 2017 Customer Satisfaction Survey this past month! By completing the survey, Shirley was able to fill out a sweepstakes entry form and, out of 3,777 entries, her name was randomly drawn to receive a $100 Publix Gift Card.

Thanks for participating, Shirley. Here is a picture of Shirley with her dog Pixie, receiving her gift card!


Taxpayers Can Save Time and Money With Online Property Taxes Payments Using eCheck

The Tax Collector's Office reminds property owners that Tuesday, January 31 is the last day to take advantage of the 2% discount awarded to taxpayers who chose to pay their property tax payment early.

To receive this discount, payments must be postmarked or conducted online on or before January 31. Taxpayers may also pay in person at one of the Tax Collector's Service Center locations.

Taxpayers may pay online by using their checking account and bank routing numbers, also referred to as an “eCheck,” with no convenience fee.   There is a 2.5% convenience fee for credit card transactions.

To qualify for the 2% property tax discount, taxpayers have the following options:

  • Mail in their payment with a postmark recorded on or before  Tuesday, January 31;
  • Make an online payment at on or before Tuesday, January 31; or,
  • visit one of Tax Collector's Service Centers on or before 5:00 PM on Tuesday, January 31, and pay in person.

For more information, including locations and customer wait times, go to


Airbnb Will Begin Tourist Development Tax Collections In February

Airbnb, the Sunshine State’s leading community driven hospitality company, and the Tax Collector’s Office for Polk County, Florida announced today a historic agreement that will allow the home sharing platform to voluntarily collect and remit Tourist Development Taxes (TDT) on behalf of its hosts in Polk, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue for the county.

In 2016, Polk County emerged as one of the top statewide destinations for Airbnb guests, with strong growth among guest arrivals for areas such as Lakeland, Northeast Polk, and Winter Haven. Based on 2016, Airbnb projects that it would collect and remit well over $200,000 in new annual tax revenue to Polk County, based on 2016 reservations.

In 2016, Airbnb hosts in Polk County earned $4.8 million through hosting on Airbnb. Airbnb hosts in Central Florida and throughout the state.

Polk is now the 35th Florida county in which Airbnb is collecting and remitting bed taxes on behalf of its hosts, joining neighboring Hillsborough and Pasco as well as other large counties like Pinellas, Orange, Brevard and Lee.

Joe G. Tedder, Tax Collector for Polk County, stated, “We began negotiations with Airbnb early in 2016 and stayed focused on making sure the agreement was not confidential and available for public inspection, that it was understood our office would continue to pursue back taxes due from prior rental activities, and that there were adequate mechanisms in place for our office to conduct audits and pursue enforcement actions.”
Tedder continued, “Relationships with rental platforms like Airbnb are critical for Polk County because our vacation housing represents a major portion of our rental properties. We are excited for the opportunity to bring in the important tax revenues due which are used to promote tourism and in turn generate greater economic activity in Polk. For example, we anticipate that greater revenues will now be remitted from major events such as Major League Baseball Spring Training and Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In.”

Polk County’s popular attractions such as LEGOLAND Florida, proximity to Central Florida’s other popular theme parks, and access to Florida’s beaches have made Polk an increasingly popular travel destination for the Airbnb community. Lakeland, the largest city within the county, is also home to Publix’s international headquarters.
Airbnb Florida Policy Director Tom Martinelli said: “Tens of thousands of travelers are authentically experiencing Polk County’s neighborhoods and attractions through Airbnb. While Polk County’s hosts and merchants are already benefitting from this economic impact, our collaboration with Tax Collector Tedder will unlock a new revenue stream for the County to continue marketing itself as a preferred family-friendly tourist destination.”

In the past month alone, Airbnb has announced it will begin voluntarily collecting and remitting bed taxes in Hillsborough, Okaloosa and Hardee, in addition to Polk. Airbnb has a dedicated Florida policy team, based out of the Airbnb Florida headquarters in Miami, to partner with county policymakers and help accommodate their individual needs.

Airbnb collaborated with the Florida Department of Revenue in December 2015 on an agreement that allows Airbnb to collect and remit the state sales tax on behalf of its hosts. Between the sales taxes and tourist development taxes, Airbnb collected and remitted well in excess of $20 million in 2016 to state and local governments on behalf of its hosts.

Lakeland Area Airbnb Growth

  • 60+ active Airbnb hosts
  • About 1,000 guest arrivals in 2016, reflecting 379% year-over-year growth
  • Typical Lakeland host earns $2,100 in annual supplemental income through Airbnb
  • Typical Lakeland host rents his or her listing 2.5 nights per month

Northeast Polk Airbnb Growth

  • 80+ active Airbnb hosts
  • About 1,000 guest arrivals in 2016, reflecting 64% year-over-year growth
  • Typical Haines City host earns $2,500 in annual supplemental income through Airbnb
  • Typical Haines City host rents his or her listing 1.5 nights per month

Winter Haven Area Airbnb Growth

  • 20+ active Airbnb hosts
  • About 1,000 guest arrivals in 2016, reflecting 376% year-over-year growth
  • Typical Winter Haven host earns $4,800 in annual supplemental income through Airbnb
  • Typical Winter Haven host rents his or her listing 6.5 nights per month



Regular Business Hours To Resume On Tuesday, January 17

On Monday, January 16, 2017, Tax Collector offices throughout Polk County, as well as the the American Legion Tag Agency in Winter Haven, will be closed in observance of  Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

To learn more about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday and Day of Service, visit the following website:


Have a Happy New Year!

The Tax Collector's Office will be closed Monday, January 2, 2017, in observance of the New Year's Holiday, and will resume regular office hours on Tuesday, January 3, 2017.


Taxpayers are Advised to Avoid the Crowds by Paying Early and Using Online or Mail-In Options
Joe Tedder estimates over 22,000 customers will come through their offices the last two weeks of the month, with December being the busiest month of the year for the Tax Collector’s Office. That’s because December 31 is the deadline for mobile home and heavy truck registration renewals, vehicle registrations for owners with December birthdays, as well as for those taking advantage of a 3% property tax discount if paid by the end of December.  In addition, office closings due to the holidays will reduce the hours of operation just when driver license customers, many of whom are students out for winter vacation, are seeking permits.
The Tax Collector’s Office reminds taxpayers that they will be closed for the holidays on Friday, December 23, Monday, December 26, and Monday, January 2, 2017. Owners whose vehicle registrations and decals expire at the end of December are encouraged to conduct their renewal transactions by Friday, December 30, and reminded that expired motor vehicle registrations and license plates are subject to law enforcement citations.  
To renew vehicle registrations before the end of the month, or to qualify for the 3% property tax discount, motor vehicle and property owners must mail in their payment with a postmark stamped on or before Saturday, December 31, or, make an online payment at on or before December 31. (They may also visit one of the Tax Collector’s Service Centers on or before 5:00 PM on Tuesday, January 3 if paying in person.)
This year, taxpayers may also opt to use the same day service, Express Pick-Up, to get their renewal decals the same day, by going online and completing their transaction before arriving at a service center.
To summarize, tax payments may be made in the following ways:
·         Pay online:  Payments must be made on or before midnight Saturday, December 31, at
·         Pay by mail: Payments must be postmarked on or before Saturday, December 31.
·         Pay in person: At all service center locations, payments must be received before 5:00 PM, Tuesday, January 3, 2017.
·         Same day service via Express Pick-Up: Vehicle registration renewals only, at
·         Other locations: The American Legion Tag Agency in Winter Haven accepts property tax payments in their drop-box which is accessible during regular business hours.
For more information, go to or call the Tax Collector’s Office at (863) 534-4700.


DHSMV “FlowMobile” will be in Winter Haven, Frostproof and Fort Meade between now and the end of the year.

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Department’s mobile unit, called the “FLOW-Mobile”, will be in Polk County four days this month, according to the folks at the Tax Collector’s Office for Polk County.  “We have requested this service to assist vehicle owners and drivers with registration and driver license renewals during this busy season,” says Joe Tedder, Tax Collector for Polk County.

Residents of Fort Meade, Frostproof and Winter Haven should be looking for the large blue and green FLOW-Mobile at the following locations and dates:


Day of Week








Winter Haven

Gill Jones Facility

3425 Lake Alfred Rd, Winter Haven, FL 33881

8:30 am – 2:30 pm




City Hall

111 W 1st St, Frostproof, FL 33843

8:00 am – 2:00 pm









Fort Meade

City Hall

8 W Broadway St, Fort Meade, FL 33841

8:00 am – 2:00 pm



Winter Haven

Gill Jones Facility

3425 Lake Alfred Rd, Winter Haven, FL 33881

8:30 am – 2:30 pm


The only services available by the FLOW-Mobile will be vehicle registrations, driver license renewals and replacements, and new driver licenses (only if the written and driving tests have already been completed and all the necessary documentation is on hand.  Go to get these conducted prior to visiting the mobile unit.)

Disabled parking placards and applications for parking placards may also be obtained at the mobile unit.

For more information, Tax Collector’s Office at (863) 534-4700.

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

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