Do you remember the dreaded lost and found in elementary school? The infamous pile of unlabeled clothes which begin to look incredibly similar the more you searched through the pile. The problem of losing, misplacing, or forgetting about things is a common problem for everyone, and thus why we have companies creating apps, such as “Find My iPhone”, or devices, such as the “Tile” to help us “find” our lost treasures.
While technology has increased our ability to “find” our lost treasures, we still need to know what was lost and what tools to use to find them. In fact, did you know that 1 in 10 Missourians has Unclaimed (abandoned) Property and that while $7.763 billion was collected in 2015, by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, only $3.235 billion was claimed ($42 million of this was claimed in the state of Missouri)? That means almost 60% of collected property went unclaimed in 2015.
What exactly is Unclaimed Property? Unclaimed property, in general, is a property that a company has held for a year or longer that has not been claimed by the owner and/or that the company has not had contact with the owner during this period. It can include but is not limited to, checking/savings accounts, payroll checks, stocks, customer overpayments, insurance payments or refunds, life insurance policies, and annuities.
Why does the property get turned over? Each state has their own unclaimed property laws and when a company can’t find the owner or next of kin within two to five years they are required to turn the property over to the state where it is held. Often the company is unable to find the owner due to a change of address or death and they are unable to locate the next of kin.
How do I find out if I have Unclaimed property? Given each state has their own laws, a search in each applicable state is required. For Missouri, the website is https://treasurer.mo.gov/UnclaimedProperty/. If needing to search another state go to Unclaimed.org or MissingMoney.com, which provides the ability to do a multi-state search (Note: be sure to check for all names you have used, such as a maiden name). In addition, the following links can help in searching for specific types of property:
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (https://closedbanks.fdic.gov/funds/)
- National Credit Union Administration (https://www.ncua.gov/services/Pages/asset-management/unclaimed-deposits.aspx)
- US Securities Exchange Commission (https://www.sec.gov/divisions/enforce/claims.htm)
- Internal Revenue Service (https://www.irs.gov/uac/does-the-irs-have-money-waiting-for-you). Note: If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.
- US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (http://webapps.dol.gov/wow/ )
- US Department of Veteran Affairs (https://insurance.va.gov/UnclaimedFunds)
- US Department of Housing and Urban Development database for FHA refunds
To keep your property from becoming lost in the future, it is important to update your contact information with all institutions that hold your money and/or property each year, especially when you have a change in address or change in marital status.
If you have any questions about finding unclaimed property, specifically tax refunds, please contact us at 417-823-7171 or at www.abacuscpas.com.