WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Homeowners are receiving a form that is being confused with a tax exemption application.
The Wichita County Appraisal District, The Wichita County Tax Collector and the Wichita Falls BBB have received multiple calls about the form.
Barbara Stivers received the form just last Friday. The mail had a return address in Austin, Texas. The company who sent it offered to help homeowners file for a "designation of homestead" in exchange for $45 dollars.
Stivers said, "I read the back and it looked official but still there was something in my mind that this is not right."
Chief Wichita County Appraiser Lisa Stephens-Musik said, "What they're asking you to do is to let them complete a form for you. For a homestead designation to be effective you have to file it for record in the county clerk's office. Then, you would have to pay the filing fee at the county clerk's office in addition to this $45 for that to be in effect."
A designation of homestead can help protect someone from losing their home if they are being pursued by creditors or if they are being sued. It is not required by law.
There's print at the bottom of the page that says, "Designation of Homestead under Tax Property Code is distinct from the homestead tax exemption". This means they are two completely separate forms.
It also says that those who have already applied for tax exemption will eventually get designation of homestead for free automatically.
However, the mere mention of the words tax exemption is misleading some homeowners
Stephens-Musik said, "We did have someone who was actually bringing us $45 to help complete something because they refer to the appraisal district."
Stivers was not fooled by the form and she hopes others her age aren't either. "You know you're on social security, and you pay 45 dollars for nothing," She said, "it hurts because that $45 is quite a bit to quite a few people."
Although the homestead designation services company sent its mail from Austin, it is based in Arizona. The BBB has since given it an F-rating on their website. They encourage people to be sure to look at the fine print and be thorough when reading those types of documents.