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Residents, businesses should check for unclaimed property

March 6, 2011

As the height of tax season approaches, area residents and businesses alike should take an interest in the the unclaimed property database maintained by the Pennsylvania State Treasury.
In Pennsylvania, unclaimed property is defined as any financial asset that has been left with a “holder,” such as a bank or other business, that has not seen activity or contact for approximately five years; after the five-year period, holders are required to transfer the property to the Treasury Department. The state agency then maintains custody of the assets and works to return them to their owners free of charge. Unclaimed property includes abandoned bank accounts, forgotten stocks, bonds or dividends, uncashed checks, credit balances, share deposits, insurance proceeds, life insurance policies, contents of safe deposit boxes, expired gift cards, court-ordered refunds, customer overpayments, deposits on layaways and recovered stolen property.
According to state Treasurer Rob McCord, the agency is currently holding almost $2 billion in unclaimed assets, and it is estimated that one in 10 Pennsylvanians currently has unclaimed property. Commonwealth residents can search their names and those of friends and family in the Treasury's Unclaimed Property database, located at www.patreasury.org, or call 1-800-222-2046. The site also has additional information about proving ownership, downloadable forms to use in filing a claim and answers frequently asked questions.
McCord reiterated that the Treasury assists Pa. residents get their unclaimed property returned to them for free, and they should be wary of anyone who offers to help them locate unclaimed money for a fee or asks them to sign a payment agreement.
Additionally, there is no time limit for claiming property.
It is also important for businesses to be aware of the state's unclaimed property laws, as they are responsible for reporting any unclaimed property in their possession. Any company, organization or public agency in possession of unclaimed property for Pennsylvania residents is required by law to report and deliver that property to the Treasury by April 15 each year or risk being subjected to an audit, penalties or interest. According to correspondence from the Pa. State Treasury, writing off unclaimed property into income does not relieve liability.
Businesses and organizations that have already received a letter from the Pa. Treasury regarding unclaimed property in their possession or would like additional information about filing a report may visit www.patreasury.org, call 1-800-379-3999 or send an e-mail to unclaimedpropertyreporting@patreasury.org.

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