unclaimed money

Unclaimed Money in the Billions Awaits Rightful Owners

Alan I. Fox, CPA, CVA Tax Planning For Individuals, Personal Finance Leave a Comment

unclaimed money

Did you know that billions of dollars are sitting unclaimed in accounts in the United States? The proper beneficiaries are not claiming their money - and many are not even aware that funds are owed to them. Federal and State governments are trying to get the unclaimed money to the proper recipients. Here’s how to start your search:

Start with the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service gets tax refunds returned to it every year for a variety of reasons. Recently, the IRS calculated that $1.1 billion was unclaimed in a single tax year.

Firstly, you’ll only be able to claim a tax refund if you file a return in the first place. Even if you aren’t required to file, you may still want to do so because you might qualify for a refund.

Secondly, the IRS always sends refund checks to a taxpayer’s last known address. When taxpayers have moved but have not notified the IRS, these checks are returned to the IRS by the post office.

Uncle Sam’s Where’s My Refund? page will help you check for any tax refunds due to you. You’ll need to know the exact amount in order to use the online form. If you can’t access the web-based system, you can call the IRS instead. Here’s a list of phone numbers.

Check at the State level for unclaimed money

There is also unclaimed property at the state and local levels. The State of Maryland, for example, has returned over a billion dollars to residents who somehow lost sight of it. The Comptroller of Maryland has a convenient online database of unclaimed property that is easy to search.

Other states and some Canadian provinces have similar online resources. To start a search, go to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators’ website and select any jurisdiction where you think you may have unclaimed property.

Don't forget other sources of unclaimed assets

Old financial accounts at banks, savings and loans, credit unions, and insurance companies are good places to find unidentified assets. MissingMoney.com has a search tool that scans numerous financial institutions by location and a person’s name. And the FDIC has a web page that searches for missing funds from failed banks.

For retirement accounts, two organizations help owners recover their rightful funds: The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits is a good place to look for money that is sitting unused in a former employer’s retirement plan. And the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s website lets you look for left-over money from failed pension plans.

We've assisted clients in the recovery of unclaimed funds. If you need help tracking down money that is rightfully yours, contact Glass Jacobson!

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Alan I. Fox, CPA, CVA

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