Abilene BBB warns of ‘misleading’ homestead exemption form asking for money
ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Abilene is warning residents against submitting a misleading form asking for an advanced fee to file for homestead designation. During our investigations, we discovered that this deposit is free, and many consumers confuse this form with filing for a homestead exemption – another service that does not require a fee.
Just a few weeks ago, Conni Robinett filed for a homestead exemption with the Taylor County Central Assessment District.
“About two weeks later we got this in the mail,” Robinett said, holding up a form urging him to pay $79.00 to file for homestead designation. “It was really like, ‘Okay, that’s one more step you’re supposed to take.'”
Robinett told KTAB/KRBC that she called the appraisal district to ask them if she really needed to pay for it, “And the lady says, ‘oh, it’s a scam.'”
This household is not the first to be confused by this form, and probably not the last. Others have gone so far as to pay the $79.00 fee, thinking it’s a homestead exemption – according to Abilene BBB President John Riggins. He didn’t call it a scam, but said: “It’s certainly misleading. If it’s nothing else, it’s misleading.
Even though the form says it’s a request for homestead designation, Riggins said it’s sent out every spring, just like tax notices were mailed out. He called the form “like confusing.”
The form also mimics an official government form, Riggins said, which confused Robinett.
“It shows he’s from Austin, and so it looked official,” Robinett explained.
That’s why, in 2021, the BBB asked the company to change the marketing of its services, which Riggins says is filing something free to do because it’s confusing for consumers. However, the company refused to change it.
“That business name sounds like something that would be associated with your property tax when it isn’t. Because it’s just a sole proprietorship collecting advanced fees, doing something for consumers that consumers can do for themselves,” Riggins detailed.
Riggins said he’d like to encourage others to get tired of forms like this to avoid paying extra for something owners don’t need.
KTAB/KRBC also spoke with Taylor County Central Assessment District General Manager Gary Earnest, who said he received several phone calls about the form. Although he said he couldn’t tell if it was a scam, he was keen to point out that filing for a homestead exemption is free.