The elected county office of Tax Collector in Florida was established in 1885 in the state constitution based on the idea that local taxes could best be collected at the local level and by being an elected officer, the Tax Collector would be more responsible to the needs of the community in which he or she was elected. In most counties, the Tax Collector is responsible for not only the collection of ad valorem taxes, which is the single largest tax collected in Florida, but also collection of other taxes at the local level, such as taxes imposed by special levying districts and taxes imposed by state agencies.
In Florida, Tax Collectors are independent constitutional officers duly elected in their counties of residence by their fellow citizens and taxpayers. It is this independence coupled with the fact that Tax Collectors deal with a variety of duties and responsibilities and provide a myriad of important public services that allows them to exercise valuable leadership roles in Florida’s government. They direct, plan, organize, budget, set and implement policies which affect not only their local government, but reach the state levels as well.
Along with their own local involvement in personnel and financial management matters, Tax Collectors participate in the management of the executive branches of state government which include the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and the Department of Revenue. It is the Tax Collector who sees all these departments as a whole and consequently, is able to coordinate and analyze the impact they may have collectively on the taxpayer.
Staff members from the various departments of state along with state legislators should and do draw heavily on the broad base of knowledge accumulated by the Tax Collectors in drafting tax legislation, and establishing rules and regulations for carrying out laws regarding the collection of taxes. Furthermore they are the only locally elected officials with whom almost every citizen will need to contact.