Thousands in Jacksonville don't pay property taxes

$34 million still owed to city of Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thousands of people in Duval County still owe property taxes from last year -- a total of $34 million worth -- and now there is a chance they could lose their homes.

Taxes on that property will have to be paid, so the tax collector is getting ready to sell the tax certificates on those properties.

In a way, it's like a bill collector in which the city is selling the taxes and the owners will have to pay more to settle the claim or lose their home in two years.

The names of 38,000 people who still owe taxes were recently published. Already, 14,471 people have come forward and made payments, but there are still more than 23,000 people who owe the city money, the equivalent of $34 million.

"If those taxes are still unpaid, then those taxes, a certificate will be sold, meaning the government will be made whole and someone else will buy those certificates and pay those taxes," said Sherry Hall, of the Tax Collector's Office.

MORE ONLINE: Search for delinquent real estate taxes | About tax certificate sales

Channel 4's Jim Piggott checked with a number of homeowners around town, like in Murray Hill, where there are delinquent property taxes owed. Many people were not home Thursday, but Piggott wanted to find out if they really are concerned about losing their homes or if they are going to pay the taxes eventually.

One owner, according to tax records, owes $1,221. Not far from that site, the owner of another house owes $2,553. And the owner of one apartment complex owes $3,257.

Those are just three examples of the thousands on the list. Officials with the Tax Collector's Office say most people pay their taxes, and those who don't make up just 3 percent of the tax role. Even with that, most of the owners will eventually come forward and pay, officials said.

"After two years, then they are at risk of losing their property," Hall said.