KETR

Get a Homestead Designation Letter? Appraisers Say You Can Toss It.

Jun 14, 2018

You might have gotten – or will soon get -- If you own a home in Texas, you might receive a letter from Homestead Designation Services in Austin that asks you for $45 to file for a homestead designation.

You can save your money.

" It’s a solicitation for a service," says Jeannie Ashlock, Customer Service and Exemptions Manager at the Fannin County Appraisal District. "That service is actually free."

Paying for a homestead designation is not a scam, per se, but Ashlock says it's completely unnecessary. According to the Better Business Bureau, filing a homestead designation is not required in order to get a tax break, called a homestead exemption. The letter from the Austin-based service does spell that out, but it's not a prominenty featured acknowledgement.

Ashlock says several county residents have come to her office with that letter in hand, not sure what a homestead designation is, confused between the terms "homestead exemption" and "homestead designation."

Homestead exepmtions are tax breaks for residents who own and occupy their home "on January first of any given year," she says. And getting that exemption, from form to filing, is a free service provided by th county.

Ashlock says there’s no crime in paying for the service, but not many people she’s met are choosing the paid option.