Businesses have deadline to remit unclaimed property

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The Pennsylvania Treasury collected $281 million in unclaimed property last year, more than any other year since I took office as state treasurer in 2009.

That’s $281 million more unclaimed property that Treasury’s return team can try to reunite with the rightful owner or heir, just like we are doing with all of the $2.2 billion in unclaimed property we hold.

While we are tremendously pleased with this success, I realize there are still many business leaders out there who remain unfamiliar with the state law that mandates the remittance and collection of unclaimed property – Pennsylvania’s Disposition of Abandoned and Unclaimed Property Act.

I write today as part of our concerted effort to decrease that number and increase compliance with this long-running consumer protection law.

Inactive bank accounts, unpaid safe deposit boxes, uncashed accounts payable checks – these and other items that go without owner contact or activity for five years (in most cases) are considered dormant under state law and must be reported to Treasury, where we take up the search for the rightful owner or heir.

This is a mission we take seriously – as evidenced by our highest annual return total of $111 million in 2013 alone, but it is not possible without the cooperation and compliance of businesses like yours.

Unclaimed property “holders” – that is, financial institutions, government agencies, businesses, organizations, colleges, universities or other types of entities that may possess unclaimed property – are responsible for setting the reunification process in motion.

Holders are required to remit unclaimed property to Treasury on an annual basis by April 15. These items are not write-offs, and failure to report can result in penalties and fines, including 12 percent interest charged from the date the property was due.

From my years as a business leader, I know there are endless policies to adhere to and deadlines to abide by – unclaimed property being one of many statutes that guides operations. With its annual deadline of April 15, I hope unclaimed property filing can become an automatic yearly ritual for your business.

The Pennsylvania Treasury is here to help, offering countless resources such as frequently asked questions, interactive webinars and a staff of holder compliance officers ready to answer questions and walk you through the process.

Different industries have different types of unclaimed property. Some examples include:

• Financial institutions: Checking and savings accounts, cashiers checks, money orders, certificates of deposit, customer deposit, estate funds, individual retirement accounts, pension and profit sharing, wages and safe deposit boxes.

• Insurance companies: Claims payment checks, escrow accounts, matured life insurance policy funds, premium refunds, death benefit checks, commissions, uncashed checks, annuities, stocks and dividends.

• Government entities: Restitution awards, accounts payable checks, wages, credit balances, inmate accounts and tangible property.

• Educational services: Credit balances, accounts payable checks, payroll, refunds, rebates and tangible items from universities.

• Professional services: Escrow accounts, credit balances, accounts payable checks, payroll and commissions.

• Health care: Patient accounts, wages, accounts payable checks, credit balances and tangible items.

• Retail companies: Payroll, commissions, accounts payable checks, credit balances, gift cards, gift certificates, stocks and dividends.

Another thing to remember when you visit www.patreasury.gov to explore our holder resources is that holders of unclaimed property can also be owners, too. Enter your name and the name of your business to find out if we are holding any property for you.

I appreciate the compliance of businesses who file annual unclaimed property reports. When Treasury and the holder community work together in accordance with state law, we provide an important public service – getting money back into the wallets of Pennsylvanians.

Just think – money that you help reunite with the rightful owner may end up being funds that will support you or other Pennsylvania businesses.

Please visit www.patreasury.gov, or call 1-800-379-3999 for more information about your responsibilities under Pennsylvania’s unclaimed property law or for assistance in filing your annual unclaimed property report.

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