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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Unclaimed Funds/Overpayment/Refund

    From www.hcad.org (Harris County Appraisal District),

    Many homeowners complain after being misled by letters from individuals or businesses that offer to help them recover unclaimed government funds if the homeowner signs an agreement giving the solicitor half the recovered money. In the typical case of this type, the homeowner simply receives a property tax homestead exemption application form prepared by the firm doing the solicitation.

    Unfortunately, once the homeowner has agreed to pay the solicitor half the refund, he or she loses that much of any potential tax refund, and many of these firms have been quick to sue in small claims court if the unfortunate individual refuses to pay.

    Jim Robinson, HCAD’s chief appraiser, urges homeowners who receive these types of solicitations to be extremely careful and check with the appraisal district or an attorney before responding to the offer.

    “There is absolutely no charge for a homeowner to file his or her own homestead exemption application with the appraisal district, and application forms are available both on HCAD’s website and from the district’s Information & Assistance Center at 13013 Northwest Freeway in Houston,” Robinson noted.
    The letter I received was from:

    Karyn A. Ward CPA
    7522 Campbell Rd, Suite 113
    Dallas, TX 75248

    Their website is www.kwardcpa.com. I checked their website and confirmed that they will not disclose the source of funds unless you agree to promise them half (and they make it very easy to do that on the site). I did not agree, of course, and I received a phone call today from them asking if I wanted to follow through on it. I said "It's a homestead exemption on my property tax, isn't it?" He said, "Yes." I said, "It's very dishonest of you to trick people into promising half of their tax reduction when it's a free and easy exemption." he said, "Well, you haven't used yours." I told him, "I have the exemption on a different property." He said he'd disregard it, then. As I started telling him again how dishonest they were being, he hung up.

    Also, from www.bbb.org:

    Industry Tips

    Unclaimed funds

    (Note: These tips pertain to the industry cited above and do not necessarily track our experience with the company in whose report they appear. In particular, industry complaints referenced below are typical of the industry as a whole, but not necessarily every company in the industry.)

    Individuals may have unclaimed funds available from any of several local, state, or federal agencies. Information about these unclaimed funds may be on the public record, but is not always easy to track down. Some companies research public records to obtain lists of persons who may be due unclaimed funds, and then offer, for a fee, to provide those individuals with information on how to collect the funds. If you decide to hire a company to assist you, read the contract carefully to be sure that you know how much the services will cost you and what the company will do to earn its fee.

    Individuals who would rather research, on their own, possible sources of unclaimed funds, are advised to contact the following common sources as a start:

    Tax Appraisal Offices, if you are a homeowner, to learn if you have filed all possible homestead tax exemptions, thereby reducing property taxes. Telephone your local city council representative to obtain the telephone number for the agency serving your address.
    Company advertisements to designate property as a homestead are required by Texas law to state prominently, "This document is an advertisement of services. It is not an official document of the state of Texas." In addition, the company cannot accept money from the homeowner or sign a contract for services without first disclosing the name of of the tax appraisal district or governmental body that owes the refund. Homeowners can designate homestead status at no charge by contacting their local tax or appraisal. district.

    County or District Clerk's office, if you have posted bail bonds and have not received your refund.

    Texas State Treasury Unclaimed Funds, 800-654-3463.

    Federal Housing Administration, if you are owed money on unearned premiums paid for FHA mortgage insurance, 703-235-8117.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Re: Unclaimed Funds/Overpayment/Refund

    How funny! I received a postcard today from Karyn A Ward, CPA that I have made an overpayment to a texas based public agency of $2,700. I called them only b/c the front of the postcard says BBB Accredited. They didn't tell me anything on the phone, but wanted me to come in to their office to sign paperwork. I am a CPA for a Big 4 Accounting Firm, so I decided to search around for this. After I read your post, it was clear it was about my homestead. I changed it last year from my Dallas County home to my Collin County home. So, they thought they could have me file the form on my other house. I am appalled that they would ask for 50% of the refund for helping someone file their homestead. Their website also says that if you file at a later date after they tell you the source of the overpayment, you still owe them! I just can't believe it. A homeowner can file this at anytime. In fact, I told my Nanny to file her homestead two weeks ago...I didn't ask for anything in return for saving her money.

    I notified the BBB that they are advertising this and it is not correct. Having BBB on the postcard makes people believe that it is a good business. If someone was not educated in real estate taxes, then they would think she was helping them out...but in reality she is stealing money. They could do it for free at any time.

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