BidLakeTax Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
Lake County Tax Certificate Sale



BASICS

What is a tax certificate?
A tax certificate is a statutory and superior lien against a specific parcel of real property which represents unpaid delinquent real property taxes, non-ad valorem assessments, interest, related costs and charges. The tax certificate sale is NOT a sale of real property, nor does a tax certificate give the certificate holder a direct means to acquire a property.

Pursuant to Florida Statute 197.432 (13), the holder of a tax certificate may not directly, through an agent, or otherwise initiate contact with the owner of property upon which he or she holds a tax certificate to encourage or demand payment until 2 years after April 1 of the year of issuance of the tax certificate and F.S. 197.432 (14), Any holder of a tax certificate who, prior to the date 2 years after April 1 of the year of issuance of the tax certificate, initiates, or whose agent initiates, contact with the property owner upon which he or she holds a certificate encouraging or demanding payment may be barred by the tax collector from bidding at a tax certificate sale. Unfair or deceptive contact by the holder of a tax certificate to a property owner to obtain payment is an unfair and deceptive trade practice, as referenced in F.S. 501.204(1), regardless of whether the tax certificate is redeemed. Such unfair or deceptive contact is actionable under F.S. 501.2075-501.211. If the property owner later redeems the certificate in reliance on the deceptive or unfair practice, the unfair or deceptive contact is actionable under applicable laws prohibiting fraud.

It is the bidder’s sole responsibility to research tax certificates for which they intend to place bids and/or purchase. Detailed property and tax information can be viewed by clicking on the Advertised Number for each certificate. As with most investment opportunities, there is an element of risk; therefore, it is highly recommended that due diligence be exercised, as tax certificate purchases are final.

When does the tax certificate sale take place?
The sale opens in early to mid May and starts to close on or before June 1. All activity related to registration, bidding, payments and certificate assignment takes place on the auction website.

In early to mid-May each year:
  • Delinquent taxes are advertised in accordance with Florida Statute 197.402.
  • Registration and bidding on BidLakeTax.com begins (submit W-9 / W-8 BEN forms, pay deposits, bidder numbers are assigned, begin submitting bids).
On, or before, June 1:
  • Bid submission ends
  • Sale results are generated
For exact dates, please see the Auction Schedule.

How do I register for the sale?
Any bidder who intends to participate in the sale must perform the following steps via the auction web site:
  • Obtain a User ID and password for the web site by clicking the "Register" link on the home page and completing the required form.
  • Submit an IRS W-9 or W-8BEN Form.  Submission and/or modification can occur only while the sale is open. Bidder numbers will be assigned once this form has been successfully submitted.  (See note below.)
  • Set a budget amount (the maximum amount you are willing to spend in the sale)
  • Pay a deposit of at least 10% of your anticipated purchases.
NOTE: A Social Security number (SSN) or employer identification number (EIN) must be provided for each bidder and must belong to the person listed on the IRS form. This information is treated as confidential; for further information please review the Privacy Policy located within the Documentation section of the BidLakeTax home page. The Tax Collector’s office will perform a verification process via the IRS website for all tax identification numbers submitted. The tax certificate list, redemption checks and interest earnings will be issued exactly as indicated on the form(s).

How do non-US bidders participate in the sale?
Individual foreign bidders qualified to complete an IRS W-8BEN form with a valid US TIN may submit bids in the sale. Foreign entities qualified to complete an IRS W-8BEN-E form must contact the Tax Collector’s office by calling 352-343-9602.

How do I submit my bids?
Bids can be submitted on the Bid page individually, as a group (using a saved list), or via a file upload. All steps necessary for registration must be completed before bids can be submitted.

How do I pay for certificate purchases?
Payment must be made by ACH using the "Pay for Certificates" button on the My Account page. The button is activated once the last batch in the sale closes and any final data updates are complete. The deadline to pay is listed on the Auction Schedule. Any bidder who fails to make payment by the deadline will forfeit their deposit and certificates will be re-sold or struck to the county at the discretion of the Tax Collector.

What is an ACH debit?
An ACH debit is an electronic payment from your checking or savings account. When you enter your bank account information and submit payment on the auction web site, you are authorizing the Tax Collector to debit your account for the amount you indicated. All payments are sent for processing immediately. Additional information is available on the page where you authorize payment.

Funds must be drawn from a US financial institution. Some types of money market, brokerage, and/or trust accounts cannot accept ACH debits. Please check with your financial institution prior to initiating payment on the auction web site.


THE TAX CERTIFICATE SALE top

What is the auction process?
Certificates are sold in the order they are advertised. Bidding begins at 18 percent (18%), the maximum rate, and interest is bid down in decrements of 1/4 percent (0.25%). Each certificate is sold individually to the bidder offering the lowest interest rate. In the case of a tie at the lowest rate, the winner will be selected using a random number generator in the auction software. Items that receive no bids are “struck” to the county to become county-held certificates. Bids are accepted at 0 percent (0%), but certificates awarded at this rate WILL NOT accrue interest. Bids at 0% will not be treated as proxy bids.

Is there a cost to participate?
There is no cost associated with registering on the website. If you intend to bid, payment is necessary for a deposit and to pay the balance due for any certificates awarded to your bidder number.

Is there a registration deadline for the sale?
Any person who intends to participate in the Lake County tax certificate sale must complete the sale registration process by the deadline stipulated on the Auction Schedule page.

What is a batch?
A batch is a subgroup of the list of auction items. The list is divided into batches to make the bidding process more efficient, and enable participants to manage their bids and budgets.

Do I have to bid on all the items in a batch?
No. Each tax certificate in each batch is auctioned independently of every other tax certificate.

What happens to my security deposit if I don't win any certificates?
The Tax Collector will issue refunds approximately two weeks after the close of the sale. Refunds of ACH payments will be made electronically to the account you used to submit the deposit. You will receive an email confirmation when the refund is initiated.

Will the Tax Collector send me a paper certificate or list of certificates after the sale?
No. Tax certificates are recorded and maintained electronically. Bidders can review and download a list of purchased certificates from the auction website by following these steps:
  1. Log in to the auction web site
  2. Enter the relevant tax certificate sale
  3. Click on the Results tab
  4. Select "All Certificates" from the Certificate Lists menu
  5. Select "All Batches" from the Batches menu
  6. Select your buyer number from the Bidder menu
  7. Select "Winning Bids" from the Results menu
  8. Check "Hide Removed Certificates"
After completing these steps you will see a list of your purchases. You can download the list in Excel or comma-separated values format (CSV) by clicking the icons on the right-hand side of the page above the list of certificates.


USING THE AUCTION SITE top

What if I forget my password?
Click "Forgot your password?" on the Sign In page. Answer a few questions and the system will send you a temporary password via email.

What if I forget my User ID?
Contact Grant Street Group by phone at 800-410-3445 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

What is Proxy Bidding?
 In a live auction, bidders lower their bids by 1/4 percent (.25%) decrements until they are the only bidder left or until the interest goes below their acceptable minimum level, at which point they would drop out.

Proxy bidding is a form of competitive sale in which bidders enter the minimum interest rate they are willing to accept for each certificate. The auction system acts as an electronic agent, submitting bids on behalf of each bidder until their minimum bid rate is met. Using the proxy system, the electronic agent keeps lowering your bid by 1/4 percent (0.25%) decrements until you are either the only bidder left (in which case you get the certificate at 1/4 percent lower than the previous bid), or until you reach the floor you have set.
  • 0 percent bids (0%) will not be treated as proxy bids. They will be awarded at 0%.
  • If you are the only bidder on a given certificate and your minimum rate is greater than 0 percent (0%), the electronic agent will submit a bid of 18 percent (18%) on your behalf.
  • In the case of a tie at the winning bid rate, the system awards the certificate to one of the tied bidders through a random selection process using a random number generator.
  • In no case will a bidder be awarded a certificate at a rate lower than their specified minimum acceptable rate.
  • Certificates that receive no bids after all batches are closed will be struck to the County at 18 percent (18%).
Does my budget amount limit the number of bids I can submit?
No. An unlimited number of bids can be submitted regardless of your budget amount. However, you will not be awarded an item if the award would cause the value of your purchases to exceed your budget amount.

Is my budget amount automatically 10x my deposit amount?
No. The maximum allowable budget you can set is 10x your deposit amount, but you have to enter what you want your budget to be. You can modify your budget any time before the end of the sale, as long as you have at least 10 percent (10%) of that amount submitted as your deposit.

Where can I find sale results?
Results can be viewed by logging in to the auction website, entering the auction and clicking on the Results tab in the upper right-hand part of the page. Clicking on the winning bid for any certificate will display a list of all submitted bids in a new window.

What equipment or software do I need to be able to participate?
In order to use the auction website, you will need an internet connection and modern web browser with JavaScript and cookies enabled. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer are some of the freely available browsers.

If I have a question about how to use the web site, who do I contact?
Contact Grant Street Group by email at LienAuction@GrantStreet.com, or by phone at 800-410-3445, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.


TAX CERTIFICATES top
How do I receive my investment income?
When a certificate has been redeemed, the Tax Collector will remit the principal (face amount of the certificate) and the interest earnings when the property taxes are paid. Certificates are redeemed when the outstanding property taxes are paid or when the holder of a certificate, other than the County, on the same parcel (from a different tax year), makes an application for a tax deed. Redemptions are processed in accordance with Florida Statute 197.472.

Certificate holders are not paid directly, but in some cases, can receive payments from a bankruptcy trustee. If this occurs, the Tax Collector must be notified so that appropriate action can be taken to update the record and/or cancel the certificate.

Can I pay the taxes and own the property?
No. You have not purchased property. A tax certificate is a priority lien and does not convey property rights or ownership.

Can an interest rate be changed after the sale?
The following circumstances could result in an interest rate other than the rate awarded in the sale:
  • In accordance with Florida Statute 197.472(2), mandatory minimum interest of an absolute 5 percent (5%) will be levied upon the face value of certificates redeemed when the interest earned on said tax certificate is less than 5%. This applies to all county-held and individual tax certificates except those with an interest rate bid of 0 percent (0%).
  • In accordance with Florida Statute 197.432(11), any tax certificates that are canceled, corrected or amended pursuant to statute, earn interest at the rate of 8 percent (8%) per year, simple interest, or the rate of interest bid at the sale, whichever is less.
  • Interest can be affected by related judicial proceedings.
Can a certificate be canceled or reduced?
A certificate could be canceled or corrected as set forth in Florida Statute 197.443 and 197.444. The Tax Collector reserves the right to cancel or correct certificates issued in error.

How do I transfer a tax certificate?
Certificates can be transferred by completing an endorsement form and paying the applicable fees through the Tax Collector’s office.

When are county-held tax certificates available for purchase?
Currently-held county tax certificates, other than those issued on homestead real estate under $250.00, may be purchased online through LienExpress. County-held certificates associated with the current year’s tax certificate sale are available through the same website after the close and reconciliation of the sale.

What is the life of a tax certificate?
The statute of limitation on a tax certificate is seven years from the date of issuance. If application for tax deed has not been made, and no other administrative or legal proceeding exists, the tax certificate is null and void.


TAX DEED APPLICATIONS top

What is a tax deed for Florida purposes?
A tax deed is a title deed issued by a public authority to the purchaser of property sold for the non-payment of taxes.

When can a certificate holder apply for tax deed?
Pursuant to Florida Statute 197.502, at any time after 2 years have elapsed since April 1 of the year a tax certificate was issued, and before the cancellation of the certificate, the holder of the tax certificate may apply for tax deed.

How do I make application for tax deed?
The tax deed application process is initiated through the Tax Collector’s office via the DeedExpress website, https://lake.deedexpress.net.

Who conducts tax deed sales for Lake County?
The Clerk of the Circuit Court, Lake County, Florida.

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       -Bob McKee


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