Disabled Sevier County veteran fights for property tax refund

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) – A disabled Sevier County veteran has been fighting his mortgage company for months now over a tax refund he’s eligible for and was supposed to receive in December.

Certain veterans in Tennessee can get property tax relief. Those eligible are 100 percent disabled veterans. Under the rules, the disabled vet pays his property taxes, but at the end of the year, the vet is reimbursed.

Ralph Morrow and his wife Pam once owned an art gallery in Gatlinburg, but the Army veteran fell ill several years ago and VA doctors declared the 64-year-old former draftee 100 percent disabled.

The Morrows’ property taxes on their Pigeon Forge home have been reimbursed by the state for the last several years. Because of his 100 percent disability, Ralph is eligible for Tennessee’s special Property Tax Relief Program.

“You pay into an escrow just the same as you would with any homeowners loan. When the property tax is paid, the state will pay the property tax. Then it is sent back to me, or is supposed to be sent back to me,” he said.

The Morrows say with their old mortgage company, their tax refund arrived in early December with no problems. However, Freedom Mortgage recently took over their account and the $392 they’re due has been delayed.

“In years past, we haven’t had to deal with this, but since we are both disabled, $392 is not a lot to some people, but it does make a difference with us,” said Pam.

Ralph says when he calls Freedom Mortgage’s automated phone line, he’s told the property tax is there. The last time he called customer service, the story was different.

“They don’t have it, that I’ll have to wait for another audit. March or maybe June when they figure out whether they have or haven’t gotten it,” he said.

Ralph received a letter from Sevier County’s trustee office. It lets Freedom Mortgage know that Morrow is eligilbe for Tenneesse’s tax relief program. The trustee also attached a receipt showing the state refunded the county a $392 payment.

WATE 6 On Your Side asked Ralph to call Freedom Mortgage’s automated phone service. After going through numerous prompts, the automated voice said the money is there.

“We recently processed a property tax payment on November 18, 2014,” the voice said.

The payment of $392 is what he should have received in December, but Freedom Mortgage hasn’t released the payment.

We then encouraged Ralph to call customer service to talk with a live person. Ralph explained the situation and the customer service representative said she’d check.

After 10 minutes of waiting, the Morrows got a surprising answer about their audit.

“So I just opened up the request to have an analysis performed, which is going to cut the check from escrow and issue it off to you,” said the representative on the phone.

The Morrows were told their check will be cut on February 25, but the representative couldn’t explain why the process was so complicated.

“I think it’s a ridiculous process that they go through, seven different offices to make one refund,” said Ralph.

The Morrows say they trust that this fall there will not be another delay in their tax refund from Freedom Mortgage. They’re keeping their fingers crossed on that.

More online: Property tax relief for Tennessee disabled veteran homeowners [PDF]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s