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Have you paid your property taxes?

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

According to Madison County Tax Collector Lisa Tuten, the deadline for paying property taxes without penalty has passed. Property tax bills are sent out every year in November. Those who pay their property taxes at that time can enjoy a four percent discount off their property taxes. That discount decreases as time goes on until the end of March, when a late fee is added to the balance due. The deadline to avoid that late fee was Friday, March 30. Property owners may still pay the taxes due on their property. However, a three percent late fee will be added to the amount due. Property owners who still have not paid property taxes by Monday, April 30 will have their property listed on the delinquent property tax rolls. At that point, property owners will have to pay for the cost of advertising the property, in addition to the three percent late fee.

Properties listed on the delinquent property tax rolls run the risk of having a tax certificate lien placed on their property.

The way a tax certificate works are fairly simple. Imagine Investor Joe looks through the delinquent tax rolls and sees a property with $100 property taxes due. Investor Joe decides to try and make some money by buying a tax certificate on this property. Investor Joe goes to the Tax Office and pays the tax due on that property; plus the late fee, advertising cost, plus five percent commission to the Tax Collector's office. Investor Joe puts in a bid on the interest rate he will charge on this certificate. If more than one person wants this tax certificate, the person who bids the lowest interest rate (between 18 percent and five percent), wins the certificate. Investor Joe decides to bid an interest rate of 10 percent. At this point, the land owner, Sam Landowner, is indebted to Investor Joe for the property tax ($100), plus the three percent late fee, plus the advertising fee, plus the five percent commission for the Tax Collector's office, plus the 10 percent Investor Joe charged. If, after two years, Sam Landowner still has not paid the full amount owed to Investor Joe, Investor Joe has the right to request the deed to the property. The maximum amount of time the tax certificate is in place is seven years.

These tax certificates can be purchased beginning the first week in May, when the delinquent property list is published, until the last Thursday in May (May 31).

The Tax Collector's office is located in the Courthouse Annex, 229 SW Pinckney St., Room 102, in Madison. The phone number is (850) 973-6136.

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