Delinquent taxes drop as economy improves

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When times are tough, homeowners are more likely to forego paying their property taxes.

But when things improve, the volume of delinquent taxes drops, and that’s what happened with the online sale of tax certificates, that wrapped up May 28.

Handled by D & T Ventures since 2008, when the county switched from “courthouse steps” in-person sales to the online method, the sale this year concluded with 703 certificates sold off to 26 bidders, with a total value of $870,901.

Another 146 were struck back to the county, because they included tax bills of under $250 on homesteaded properties.

The volume of tax certificates sold off represents a $165,228 drop, or a nearly 16 percent decline, from the volume sold in 2019, when 844 certificates, with a total value of $1,036,129 went to 24 bidders.

In addition, more than twice as many of the small homesteaded property tax bills, 370, last year were struck to the county.

“My thought is that it’s an improving economy and that, along with the stimulus money, may have played a part in getting property owners to pay their taxes more this year versus last year,” said Gulf County Tax Collector Shirley Jenkins.

In both years, bidders will get on average 6 percent for their purchases, just above the 5 percent minimum and well below the 19 percent ceiling.

“Everything went smoothly,” said Jenkins.

Through the online process, the competition of bidders ratchets down, by one-quarter of 1 percent increments, what they are willing to accept as interest on their investment. Bidders have to put up 10 percent of the certificate’s face value prior to it being awarded them at auction. Checks presented online are acceptable as down payment; credit cards are not. The payment of the full certificate value must be paid by certified funds or wire transfer.

Jenkins has served as tax collector since 2001, when she was first elected.   A board member of the Florida Tax Collectors Service Corporation, and former District #2 director of the Florida Tax Collectors Association, Jenkins serves on the board of directors of the Capital City Bank and Washington Improvement Group, is a former member of the board of trustees of Gulf Coast State College, and is a member of Port St. Joe Kiwanis Club, and the Port St. Joe Garden Club.

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