ASK KIM


Track Down Extra Money From the Government

Kimberly Lankford

States hold billions of dollars of unclaimed property, and the IRS is sitting on millions in undeliverable refund checks. Some might belong to you.



How can I find out if my state has any money for me in its unclaimed property database?

It's easy to see if your state holds any unclaimed property for you, and it's a good idea to check -- especially if you've moved over the past few years. States receive about $3 billion in unclaimed property every year -- primarily uncashed paychecks and dividend checks, unclaimed state-tax refunds, uncollected insurance benefits and returned utility deposits. Find your state's unclaimed property database through the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators Web site or check 40 states' databases through MissingMoney.com.

The searches are free and quick. Just type your name and state in the search section of MissingMoney.com, and you'll immediately see a list of unclaimed property held in your name (or a similar name) in several states, listed by last known address, source of the money, and whether the amount is more than $100, less than $100 or unknown.

If it looks like any of that money is yours, fill out an online form with some more information about yourself. Then you'll hear back from the state unclaimed property office, which will ask for some documentation as proof of your right to the claim.

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While you're hunting for unclaimed cash, see if the federal government owes you money, too. Millions of dollars in tax-refund checks are returned to the IRS every year because they were sent to incorrect addresses. Check on your tax refunds using the IRS's Where's My Refund? tool. You'll need to enter your Social Security number, filing status and exact refund amount shown on your return.

To check on the status of your rebate check, use the Where's My Stimulus Payment? tool.

And you can check on forgotten or returned savings bonds. More than $9 billion worth of matured savings bonds have never been cashed. Most savings bonds stop accruing interest after 30 years, so you might as well cash them. You can see if you have any bonds that have stopped earning interest by using the Treasury Department's Treasury Hunt. The tool can also show you if the government has any savings bonds in your name that have been returned to the Treasury Department. More than 15,000 savings bonds are returned as undeliverable each year.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.




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