Harris County Appraisal District website shows which homeowners are eligible for homestead exemption, refund

February 5, 2013 8:26:17 PM PST
Some homeowners are getting letters that sound good, stating there's unclaimed money is out there for you. The offers to find that money come at a high price, but we found the simple way to get that money.

We all could use an extra $3,000, but why pay someone half when getting all of it is as easy as filling out a form?

A card in the mail promising big bucks got Richard Byrd's attention.

"We could get $3,400 from the government," Byrd said.

The card also says if Byrd agrees, the company that found that money would get it for him, but it would cost him half of that unclaimed cash.

"Maybe there is something to this, and that's why we called you to see if you could get tot he bottom of it," Byrd said.

The mailers have gone out to hundreds of homeowners but they don't state where they can find that money. But we learned the secret. It could be you are owed a refund if you do not have a homestead exemption on your home.

"You may have overpaid," said Jim Robinson with the Harris County Appraisal District.

Robinson says if you already have a homestead exemption, chances are you are not eligible for a refund. To find out if you have the exemption, check the HCAD website by entering in your address. Homeowners with no exemption showing on the website may be eligible for cash back.

To get the refund, fill out a homestead exemption form from the HCAD website and mail it in.

"It's free and it is the single largest tax saving that people have," Robinson said.

The firm that sent Byrd's notice of unclaimed cash is the Refund Advisory Corporation.

In a statement, its president told us, "Like most property tax consultants we charge a 50% contingency fee only when we are successful. Our clients are happy to contract with us considering the alternative of losing 100% of their refund/savings to the tax office annually."

It turns out the Byrd family did not have a home stead exemption, but they do now and getting their refund will cost them nothing. Also, you can only have one homestead exemption; keep that in mind if you own two properties.

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