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A tax certificate is a first lien on real estate and bears interest at the maximum rate allowed by law, which is 18 percent, unless the bidder's bid rate is lower. However, when a tax certificate is redeemed and the interest earned on the tax certificate is less than five percent, the mandatory charge of five percent is levied upon the tax sale certificate. The person redeeming (i.e., paying) the tax sale certificate pays the interest bid rate or the mandatory charge, whichever is greater. This applies to all tax sale certificates except those with an interest rate bid of zero amount.