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Leading the way last year, Polk County was one of just a handful of Florida counties that conducted an online tax certificate sale.

BARTOW, Florida/PR Free/May 1, 2006

Bartow, FL.-Tax Collector Joe G. Tedder and his staff continue leading the state in innovation, as the Polk County Tax Collector?s Office again conducts their tax certificate sale online this month. After last year?s success with the new auction model, the tax office announces its 2006 Tax Certificate Sale, for 2005 delinquent real estate taxes, will be held over the Internet for the second consecutive year.

Last year, Polk County was one of just a handful of counties who participated in this technology. All these counties are repeating the process again this year, with as many as 30 counties expected to join their ranks.

?Last year?s sale met all our expectations. We experienced lower interest rates for delinquent property owners, a larger pool of new investors, higher percentage of certificates sold, and fewer resources tied up by our offices,? states Tedder.

This year, Tedder?s office has chosen to pair up with Realauction, an Internet auction service provider located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, which has emerged as the nation?s fastest growing provider of Internet tax sale auctions. Realauction is also the only Florida-based company in the industry. Realauction CEO Lloyd McClendon explains, ??The NAP of the Americas?, the hosting facility of Realauction?s servers, represents one of the highest security networks and hosting facilities in the world, ensuring the best in accountability, performance and customer service to our clients.?

The benefits of this new process are becoming clear as more and more tax offices utilize online technologies. Sales are conducted in a shorter period of time, money is distributed more quickly and tax collectors and their staffs are free from the burden of conducting live sales, allowing them to continue important daily tasks in their offices. In addition, internet tax sales have been found to yield a higher percentage of certificates sold, typically at a lower interest rate. And, as with last year, the field of participants will be limited only by those who want to sign up online and file a deposit with the tax office in order to place bids.

This month, a special insert will be published, which lists all real properties with delinquent taxes for the 2005 tax year. This initiates the bidding process, which will formally open online on May 10th and run until May 31st, when the sale begins. On this date, the process will culminate as winning bids are awarded and batches close out. All bidding will be complete by June 1 at 5 p.m.

This year the list of delinquent properties totals $19,330,192 in delinquent taxes, representing over 26,801 parcels which have gone uncollected for the year. ?The actual number of parcels offered in the auction will be less,? explains Rick Rhodes, Chief Deputy of Taxes and IT, ?as the sale approaches and owners hurry to clear up unpaid balances.? On May 10th, an advertised list will be posted on the web and bids may start being entered.

Last year, 20,025 parcels were offered, with 15,460 bids awarded through the online bidding process at a value of $12,680,000, representing a 96.7% of value sold. The intent of an online auction is to streamline a process that typically has lasted as long as eight to ten days and involved a relatively small group of local investors. The number of investors last year jumped from less than 150 in previous years to over 1500 individuals, from all 50 states and 14 foreign countries.

Real estate taxes (ad Valorem taxes) are due from November 1 through March 31 and become delinquent April 1 of each year. Taxes which are not paid by May 1 are placed on an advertised list of properties which, if not paid by May 31, will be offered up for sale. A tax certificate represents a lien on real property and may earn interest at a maximum rate of up to 18% per year. The cost to purchase a certificate includes the gross tax, interest, advertising cost and the incremental cost of the Tax Certificate sale. The bidding begins at 18% and the certificate is sold to the person bidding the LOWEST annual interest rate.

In order to clear the property of the tax lien, the property owner must pay the amount of the tax certificate plus interest calculated from the month after the certificate sale to the month of payment or no less than 5%. All payments are made to the Tax Collector.

The life of a tax certificate is seven years from the date of issuance. Neither tax certificates nor interest rates are guaranteed.

Tax certificates listings will be published three times this month: On May 11, May 18 and May 25. Individuals may obtain copies at the Polk County Tax Collector?s main offices on 430 E. Main Street in Bartow, as well as the Lakeland, Lake Wales and Haines City branch offices. Their locations, as well as additional information about the Tax Certificate auction may be found on the Tax Collector?s website,


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