STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Is there such a thing as a "tax yield" payment and are "tax yield" checks "guaranteed 100 percent by the government"? No, that's not true: "Tax yield" seems to be a made-up term for payments that result from tax deed sales by county governments. Additionally, such payments aren't guaranteed by county governments.
The claims appeared in a Facebook post on July 11, 2022. The post's video is titled "Monthly 'Tax Yield' Checks Sent To Your Mailbox." The caption reads:
What if the US government sent you weekly checks straight to your mailbox? 🤑💰💸💵
👉 $888.56 from the Duval county government. 💰
👉 $1,248.33 from the Sarasota County government. 💸
👉 $2,061.21 from Polk county. 💵
Curious? Watch this video to see how it works.
The video also shows images of checks from various county clerk's offices that seem to represent the "tax yield" checks.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Jul 14 20:33:39 2022 UTC)
According to some of the county clerk's offices whose checks were featured in the video, there is no such thing as "tax yield" payments. One check shown was worth $2,061.21 from the Polk County Clerk of the Circuit Court in Florida. However, in an email sent to Lead Stories on July 14, 2022, Taylor Carson, public relations manager for the Polk County Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller, said the check was a result of the county's tax deed sale process, not "tax yields." Carson outlined the process by which the recipient received the check:
- A tax certificate is a lien for unpaid real estate taxes. The amount of the certificate is the sum of the unpaid real estate tax and the non-ad valorem assessments, penalties, advertising costs and fees. The life of a tax certificate is 7 years from the date of issuance. It is not a purchase of property, rather the investor earns interest on the certificate amount.
- At any time between the second and seventh year, the certificate holder may request the sale of the property to satisfy the certificate. It now becomes part of the tax deed sale process. The property is then placed up for bid and public[l]y auctioned.
Referring to the recipient of the check, Carson continued:
- The check reflects the refund of the money he paid for the certificate and fees and the interest he earned. He earned $184.79 and was refunded $1,876.41, which he initially paid to initiate the sale process.
Another one of the checks featured in the video was for $885.56 and sent from the Duval County Clerk of Circuit Courts in Florida. In a phone call with Lead Stories on July 14, 2022, Christopher Douglas, senior business strategist for the Duval County Clerk of Courts, said the check was not made out to the recipient for some kind of "tax yield" payment:
'Tax yield' is a term that this individual is using and that's not an actual term that's utilized, at least for the Duval County Clerk of Courts.
Instead, the recipient participated in the county's tax deed sales process and received a check as a successful result of that process, as shown in this public record. Douglas told Lead Stories that it was the only tax deed sale that the recipient participated in from the Duval County Clerk of Courts in the past two years. There wasn't a monthly or weekly payment.
Douglas said that what makes the claims particularly misleading is that the video posted to Facebook states that such checks are "guaranteed 100 percent by the government":
You're only guaranteed your funds if the property sells at auction. If you mismanage and misinvest and you invest in the application on a very poor choice of property that ends up going to tax deed sale, it does not sell. It goes into something called the 'List of Lands Available' -- and [if] it does not sell off the 'List of Lands Available,' you lose your investment. And that does happen. And so individuals will come in and ... purchase tax certificates expecting a return, and there is a chance that you will not get a return on your investment. So that is not 100 percent guaranteed.
In an email sent to Lead Stories on July 18, 2022, the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller confirmed that there was a check issued by the office and made out to the amount mentioned in the Facebook post's caption. However, the office said that the check was issued as a result of "a public tax deed sale" and "made payable to the Tax Certificate holder after the sale of the property."
Lead Stories located a longer, free video providing a more in-depth explanation of what the program supposedly offers. However, Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, told us in a phone call on July 14, 2022, that the process described by the program isn't as simple as the program makes it seem. Rheingold spoke to us after watching a portion of the longer video:
For a common person who's watching this video, this is not easy to do. It is not going to provide you with guaranteed returns. And it is not easy to sort of just turn around and say 'Oh, I'm gonna go down to my local courthouse, figure out which properties are up for tax lien, I'm going to bid the proper amount, and I'm gonna win that bid at auction,' right? ... This guy makes it sound like it's easy money and easy to do. It's just not.
Rheingold said he believes that whoever runs the "Tax Yields" program, and others with a similar business model, may actually make their money by selling such programs.
2022-07-18T23:05:57Z 2022-07-18T23:05:57ZAdded statement from the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller.