CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Tax Collector Charles W. Thomas is now accepting payments for 2019 property taxes.

In total, real estate property taxes increased 6.7% this year to $1.7 billion, surpassing the peak of the 2006 real estate bubble for the second year in a row. Countywide, the total number of properties inched up by 289 in the past year to total 435,650 parcels.

The county’s Tax Collector’s Office does not set property tax rates and does not decide how much homeowners are billed. Rather, the office is responsible for collecting property taxes and distributing the correct portions to all 56 local taxing authorities, including the school board, board of county commissioners, cities, libraries and more. Taxing authorities use these tax dollars to fund their budgets to provide services and programs.

Property tax bills were mailed Oct. 31. Property owners should expect to receive their bill within the next few days. In addition, the 22,409 property owners who signed up for email bills received their bill Nov. 1 at their registered email address.

“We value your time, especially as we enter the holiday season. I encourage you to pay your property tax bill online using a free eCheck which sends your payment directly from your bank account. It’s hassle-free and offers much faster payment processing than popping a check in the mail,” said Thomas.

November is one of the busiest months at the tax collector’s office, both in person and on the phone. Property owners are encouraged to visit www.taxcollect.com for answers to frequently asked questions. To view and pay your bill online, select the “Property Tax” tab. Bills are searchable by the owner name, address, and account or parcel number.

When it comes to property taxes, paying early has its perks. Bills paid in November receive a 4% discount. The discount drops to 3% in December, 2% in January, and 1% in February. There is no discount for March payments. Property taxes must be paid in full by March 31, 2020 to avoid late fees.

For more information about property taxes, visit www.taxcollect.com.