Every state has what I like to think of as a lost and found department. Though I'd like to believe that the Washington Department of Revenue's (DOR) "unclaimed property" division is filled entirely with missing keys and left socks, it's actually filled with lost money, which is admittedly a bigger deal than mismatched socks.
Around one in seven Washingtonians has unclaimed money sitting around at the DOR. State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti estimated that Washington has $300 million worth of unclaimed intangible property just hanging out, forgotten. This cash could be the utility deposit you forgot to collect when you moved apartments, or the refunds, medical rebates, and gift cards that slipped your mind. Usually, the claims fall on the smaller end of the spectrum—$25 to $75—but "that's real money for folks," Pellicciotti said.
To spread awareness about this entity and all this unclaimed cash, Pellicciotti put forward House Bill 1352. If passed, the bill would create a task force of legislators, community leaders, and employees at the DOR—with Pellicciotti as chair—who would come up with ways to spread the news.
"I want to make it rain for people," Pellicciotti said.
While the treasurer doesn't oversee Washington's unclaimed property program, "the money is held in the state treasury," Pellicciotti said, "I view it as part of my job to be promoting this money and getting it back into the hands of people during these challenging economic times."
Pellicciotti said the program hasn't been "adequately promoted," especially to "communities that could benefit from it" like low-income communities and communities of color. The bill's task force will have an equity focus, Pellicciotti said.
Since 1955, the state has collected over $1 billion in unclaimed money. Right now, Pelliciotti said, the DOR is sitting on one million individual claims.
Washington is unique, Pellicciotti said, because there's no expiration date for that money. It'll just sit with the state until the rightful owner claims it. While reading over this bill, I searched my own name for kicks. It turns out I have about $50 to $100 from a medical rebate I didn't even know existed. That rebate has been gathering dust for at least four years. Let me just... go claim that real quickly.
The state will hold onto tangible property, too, but only if it's inside an unclaimed safety deposit box. Those goods—"jewelry, coins, collectibles, and other unique items," according to the unclaimed property website—will sit around until the next "Abandoned Safe Deposit Box Auction." These auctions happen every four years, and you bet your ass I'll be at the next one. At the last auction, held in 2018, the DOR sold "more than 1,800 lots for a total of $1,041,162 in gross proceeds." See you all in 2022.
If you've misplaced a safety deposit box, or if you think there's a chance you're missing a small claim, check claimyourcash.org. If you have missing money and file a claim, the DOR will send you a check in the mail.