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The Tax Certificate Sale of unpaid real property taxes will take place annually on or before June 1st. The sale will be conducted on the County’s tax certificate auction web site, RealTaxLien. Bidders can review the advertised list of unpaid real property taxes and begin to submit bids on the web site starting around mid-May.

NOTE: The RealTaxLien site will be offline starting mid-April while the tax sale is being prepared, and will come back online around mid-May.

Due to recent changes to the Federal W-8BEN form, our software provider can no longer support international investors/bidders. Unless you qualify for a W-9 form AND have a U.S. mailing address, U.S. social security number and/or a U.S. TIN number, you cannot purchase certificates in Highlands County.

If you do not have access to a computer, the Tax Collector will provide public access computers Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. and on Wednesdays from 8:30 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. at 540 S. Commerce Avenue, Sebring, Florida.

In order to submit bids, you must complete the following steps on RealTaxLien:

  • Complete online registration
  • Complete IRS Form W-9
  • Submit a deposit (online via ACH)
  • Establish a budget
  • Complete Direct Deposit Form (required)
  • Receive bidder number assignment

A social security number or tax identification number must be provided for each buyer and must belong to the person listed on the W-9 form. The tax certificate list, redemption monies and 1099 interest earnings will be issued via ACH exactly as indicated on your W-9 form. Until the tax sale is complete, no changes will be made to the bidder number issued. A change of name or tax identification number will constitute an assignment and is subject to service charge for each certificate changed.

A deposit of 10% of your expected bids, or a minimum of $500.00, must be made prior to the close of any batch in which you intend to submit bids. All payments must be made via the Payments Page on the RealTaxLien web site. No other form of payment will be accepted.

All forms of payment must originate from a United States bank.

Bidding starts at 18% and interest is bid down until sold. Bids may be made in 1/4% increments. A “zero” interest bid will get the bidder the certificate with NO interest. When your bid is recognized as the low bid on the Results Page, you are obligated to pay for the certificate even if the bid was unintentional.

The properties will be auctioned in the order listed in the newspaper. Bidders will be able to begin entering interest rates on the web site beginning the day that the first newspaper advertisement is published.  The delinquent taxes from prior years will appear at the end of the list. Some items listed in the newspaper and on the web site will not be auctioned due to payments being received after the list was prepared for publication.

After the sale is closed, the balance due MUST be received in our office from ALL bidders within 48 hours of the close of the sale. Final Payment MUST be submitted by wire transfer OR certified funds via overnight delivery. Each bidder will be responsible for obtaining their list of certificates acquired from the bid site RealTaxLien. A bidder failing to make payment in the specified time will forfeit the deposit, and the certificates will be re-sold.

The Tax Collector reserves the right to cancel or correct certificates issued in error. Interest payments may be affected by bankruptcies, U.S. Marshal seizures, property taken over by a receiver, etc.

CAUTION: This is not a sale of real property. It is a lien for the amount of delinquent taxes plus interest. Contact with property owners initiated by certificate owners may be in violation of Florida Statute 197.432 (14 and 15). Contact or behavior of a certificate holder deemed unfair or deceptive may result in criminal prosecution. A tax deed application is the proper and legal method to compel payment.

Eric T. Zwayer, Highlands County Tax Collector

PLEASE NOTE: It is the responsibility of the bidder or his agent to research properties prior to bidding. The Highlands County Tax Collector’s office makes no claim as to the merit of any investment.


  • The Tax Certificate Sale is operated on a competitive bid basis with interest bids beginning at 18% and progressing downward in increments of no less than 1/4%. The lowest bidder is assigned the certificate. The amount of the certificate is the sum of the unpaid real estate taxes and non-ad valorem assessments, 3% interest, 5% in costs associated with the sale, advertising charges, and web fee.
  • Tax Certificates are dated as of the 1st day of the tax certificate sale and expire after 7 years (Florida Statute 197.432). Payment of the taxes cancels the lien and the tax certificate will be redeemed.
  • If taxes remain unpaid for a period of two years following the purchase of a tax certificate, the certificate holder, after paying all other taxes, interest and penalties, may initiate a tax deed application which will force the property to sale at a public auction.
  • Per Florida Statute, payments are accepted through the last working day of May (date may vary due to Memorial Day Holiday), therefore, successful bids may be null due to payment of the account.
  • Certificates not sold at the Tax Certificate Sale are issued to the County in accordance with Florida Statute 197.432. These certificates (other than those on homestead under $250.00) may be purchased from the County after the sale is balanced (approximately 2 weeks). The list of County held tax certificates and the instructions for purchasing these certificates will be available at Procedures for Purchasing County Held Certificates.
  • In accordance with Florida Statute 197 the advertising list for the Tax Certificate Sale will be published three consecutive weeks prior to the sale. The list will appear in the Highlands News Sun Newspaper on Wednesdays for three consecutive weeks prior to the sale, and a limited supply of copies will be available at all three Tax Collector’s offices. The list will be available on the bid site RealTaxLien around mid-May.  Please contact our office if you have any problems accessing our site. If you would like to view Florida Statute 197 governing property taxes, you may do so online at Florida Statute 197.
  • Upon close of sale, each bidder will be responsible for obtaining their list of certificates acquired from the bid site RealTaxLien.
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