Company charging Smith County residents for homestead exemption applications

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A company is sending letters to Smith County homeowners offering a homestead tax exemption service for a fee. But that same exemption is free through the Smith County Appraisal District.

"I think a lot of homeowners have recently received a mailer from a property company soliciting the property owner to authorize them to file a homestead on their part for $45," Smith County Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Michael Barnett said.

A letter asking for a name, address, and $45, all for a process the appraisal district offers for free.

Numerous homeowners are coming in confused about the letter, but ready to pay the fee.

"I already had it filled out and I was going to pay them the forty-five dollars; I wasn't going to mail it in, I was coming over here to do this," Smith County resident Pete Kesecker said.

Kesecker already filed his homestead application, but when he received the letter in the mail he headed in to the appraisal district.

"I was confused because I knew we had a homestead, and then I just told my wife, 'I guess we have to do this over again'," he said.

The letter claims to be from Homestead Designation Services. The title, Smith Designation of Homestead Request Form, leads people to believe this is a required fee.

"We would like to make sure every property owner understands that there is no filing fee if you file it yourself with our office; that's free," Barnett said.

Barnett recommends homeowners to call or stop by the appraisal district if they have any questions or concerns about their homestead application.

Copyright 2018 KLTV. All rights reserved.