ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning residents about a misleading form being sent out asking for an advanced fee to file a homestead designation request. In our investigations, we found out filing this is free, and many consumers are confusing this form with filing a homestead exemption – another service not requiring a fee. 

It was just a few weeks ago that Conni Robinett filed for her homestead exemption at the Central Appraisal District of Taylor County. 

“Just about two weeks later, we got this in the mail,” Robinett exhibited, holding up a form urging her to pay $79.00 to file a designation of homestead request. “It really seemed like, ‘okay, this is one more step you’re supposed to take.'” 

Robinett told KTAB/KRBC she called the appraisal district to ask them if she really needed to pay for this, “And the lady goes, ‘oh, that’s a scam.'”

This household isn’t the first to be confused by this form, and likely not the last. Others have gone as far as paying the $79.00 fee, thinking it is for a homestead exemption – according to president of Abilene’s BBB, John Riggins. He did not call this a scam, but said, “It certainly is misleading. If it’s nothing else, it’s misleading.” 

Even though there is mention on the form that this is for a homestead designation request, Riggins said it is sent out every spring, just as tax notices have been mailed out. He called the form “confusingly similar.”

The form also mimics an official government form, Riggins said, which is what confused Robinett. 

“It shows it’s from Austin, and so it looked official,” explained Robinett.

This is why, in 2021, the BBB asked this company to change the marketing of their services, which Riggins said is filing something that is free to do, because it is confusing to consumers. However, the company declined to change it. 

“This company name sounds like something that would be associated with your property tax when it’s not. Because it’s just an individual company collecting advanced fees, doing something for consumers that consumers can do on their own,” Riggins detailed.

Riggins said he’d like to encourage others to be weary of forms like this one to avoid paying extra for something homeowners do not need. 

KTAB/KRBC also spoke with the chief executive officer at the Central Appraisal District of Taylor County, Gary Earnest, who said they have received several phone calls about this form. Although he said he could not comment on whether this is a scam, he wanted to clarify that filing a homestead exemption is free of charge.