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Unclaimed Property Rules and Time Limits for the District of Columbia

Filed under Basic Accounting. Fact checked on May 24, 2012.

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Learn the unclaimed property rules and their time limits for the state of District of Columbia.

In the District of Columbia, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Unclaimed Property Unit of the Office of Finance and Treasury.

  • As a business owner, this will be the agency to contact if you possess unclaimed property (unpaid wages, for example). Remember that you are subject to both reporting requirements and the obligation to turn over abandoned property to the state.
  • It is also the point of contact if you believe that you may have knowingly, or unknowingly, abandoned property (for example, failing to get back a security deposit, didn't receive a tax refund).

District of Columbia businesses have a number of responsibilities concerning unclaimed property. Initially, written notice must be sent to the apparent owner of the unclaimed property, if known. If the property remains unclaimed, businesses have a number of filing and reporting requirements to fulfill. Most importantly, businesses are required to turn over any and all unclaimed property to the state. Stiff penalties apply to businesses who fail to comply with any of these requirements.

Individuals should know that all District of Columbia personal property that is held, issued, or owing in the ordinary course of a holder's business and that has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than three years after it became payable or distributable is presumed abandoned. However, this time limit varies depending on the type of property involved. Once abandoned property is turned over to the state by a business, an individual then has the burden of reclaiming it from the government.

Reporting Unclaimed Property in the District of Columbia

Every person holding presumed abandoned funds or other property, tangible or intangible, must generally file a verifiable annual report (Report of Unclaimed Property Verification and Checklist) with the DC Office of Finance and Treasury
Unclaimed Property Unit. The report is due before November 1 for each year ending as of the preceding June 30.

Prior notice to owner. If the value of the property is $50 or more, and the property holder has an address for the apparent owner that does not appear to be inaccurate, the holder of the property presumed to be abandoned must send written notice to the owner via first class mail within 120 days or less than 60 days prior to filing the annual report.

Delivery. Persons that file annual reports must deliver the abandoned property to the DC Treasurer upon filing the report. If the abandoned property is located in a safe deposit box or other safekeeping depository, then the holder must maintain possession of it for another 120 days. If the abandoned property is an automatically renewable deposit, and a penalty or forfeiture in the payment of interest would result from the immediate production of the property, then the time for compliance is extended until a penalty of forfeiture would no longer result.

The Treasurer may decline to accept property of inconsequential value. Once property has been delivered, liability is assumed by the District.

Recordkeeping. A business must generally maintain related records 10 years after the unclaimed property becomes reportable. However, the period is three years for traveler's checks, money orders, and similar financial instruments.

Penalties. a holder that fails to file an annual report or to deliver property is subject to a penalty of $200 for each day that the report, payment, or delivery is not made. The maximum penalty is $10,000.

A holder that willfully fails to file an annual report or to deliver property is subject to a civil penalty of $1,000 for each day that the report, payment, or delivery is not made. The maximum penalty is $25,000.

Claiming Unclaimed Property in the District of Columbia

In the District of Columbia, personal property that is held, issued, or owing in the ordinary course of a holder's business and that has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than three years after it became payable or distributable is presumed abandoned. However, this time limit varies depending on the type of property involved.

Once abandoned property is turned over to the state by a business, an individual then has the burden of reclaiming it from the government.

Locating abandoned property held by the state. The District of Columbia must publish a notice within 120 days of the filing of the information report for each year listing the unclaimed property valued at $50 or more reported to the DC Treasurer, and the alphabetized names of the apparent owners together with their last known addresses. The notice is published for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the District and is also sent to each apparent owner individually. The notice is usually published in the Washington Post.

Unclaimed property held by the District of Columbia may be found by searching their website (national database established by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).

Filing a claim. Claims for recovery of abandoned property are made with the DC Treasurer on its designated forms. There is no time limit by which the owners must file a claim for its return. The Treasurer will notify the claimant within 30 days in writing of any denial, in whole or in part.

A person that objects to a decision of the Treasurer, or a person whose claim has not been acted upon within a reasonable time after its filing, may have the claim reviewed under Section 2-510 of the Administrative Procedure Act.

District of Columbia Unclaimed Property Resources

If you're looking for additional information on unclaimed property, we recommend contacting your state's governmental agency that oversees the administration of this area of the law. For help in answering a specific unclaimed property question in the District of Columbia, contact the following:

Office of Finance and Treasury
Unclaimed Property Unit
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 442-8181
E-mail: DCUnclaimed.Property@dc.gov
Website: http://cfo.dc.gov/service/unclaimed-property

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