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Winning the Lottery—Unclaimed Property

Jul 13, 2016
Financial Institutions

We all dream of winning the lottery. My hopes of winning “big” are often crushed by a friend or family member screeching in delight as they realize they have a winning ticket. A friend recently introduced me to a free website that she claimed can produce the emotional exhilaration of winning the jackpot. This website turned out to be a free search for unclaimed property. It works by combining the databases of many states so people can search for unclaimed property from those states.

I decided to try it myself, and the only information I was required to enter was my last name and resident state. Although this seemed too easy, a page of 167 results was populated. While none of them were me, a bright idea came to me—how many family members did I know on that list? It turns out only one, a cousin of mine who had a small unclaimed amount from a utility company. I called him and acted as though I found out he had just won the lottery. Needless to say, he was not as thrilled with my enthusiasm when it didn’t result in winning millions of dollars.

In contemplating this process, I realized how diligent companies must be to handle obligations of unclaimed or abandoned property to customers, vendors, and even employees. It involves tracking the unclaimed funds, attempting to reunite an owner with his or her property, and finally remitting the required information to the state. Generally, this is not a hot topic of conversation when learning about an organization’s business operations.

Unclaimed property is becoming an increased area of concern for many companies as states look for additional revenue sources. As a property right, not a tax, unclaimed property has become an increasingly easy target for state legislatures, and the enforcement agencies in charge of unclaimed property administration, to target. Check out Wipfli's State and Local Tax services  to help your company stay ahead of this area of concern and navigate the complexities of unclaimed property.

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