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Unclaimed Property Rules and Time Limits for Ohio

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 Ohio.

In Ohio, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Unclaimed Funds.

  • 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).

Ohio 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 Ohio property is generally presumed abandoned if it remains unclaimed by the owner three to five years. 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 state.

Reporting Unclaimed Property in Ohio

In Ohio, a holder of abandoned property must report the property to the Director of Commerce. The reports are due before November 1 for the year as of the preceding June 30th. Reports from holders providing life insurance coverage are due before May 1 for the year as of the preceding December 31st. The Director may postpone for good cause the due date upon written request of the holder.

Prior notice to owner. The holder of unclaimed funds sends a notice to each owner of funds having a value of $50 or more at the last known address of the owner before filing the annual report. Holders of life insurance coverage also send notice to the beneficiaries at their last known address. The notice is sent at least 30 days before the funds are reported. The notice includes a description of the funds and the amount owing, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the owner or beneficiary of the funds to inform the holder of continued interest in the funds within 30 days. The funds are not reported unless the owner does not respond.

A notice of the existence of an item of unclaimed funds must be mailed (1) by first class mail if the item has a value of $50 or more but less than $1,000 or (2) by certified mail, return receipt requested, if the item has a value of $1,000 or more. The certified mailing requirement does not apply if the last known address of the owner or beneficiary in the holder's records is verified as being inaccurate. A holder has verified that the last known address of the owner or beneficiary is not accurate by documenting at least two of the following:

  1. the owner or beneficiary failed to respond to a first class mail notice sent to his or her last known address;
  2. a first class mail notice sent by the holder to the last known address of the owner or beneficiary was returned as undeliverable; or
  3. an electronic or manual search of available public records failed to confirm that the last known address of the owner or beneficiary is accurate.

In the latter case, the holder must maintain documentation of its search efforts. If a search of public records or databases identifies a more recent address for the owner or beneficiary than the address in the holder's records, the holder must send notice of the unclaimed funds' existence to the owner or beneficiary at the more recent address in accordance with the applicable mailing requirements.

Delivery. a holder includes with the report of unclaimed funds a payment of 10 percent of the aggregate amount of unclaimed funds, or, if the aggregate amount is $50 or less, 100 percent of the funds. The remainder of the unclaimed funds, along with earnings accrued to the date of payment, may be retained by the holder under an agreement with the Director, placed with a financial organization, or paid to the Director for deposit as an agent.

Recordkeeping. A business must generally maintain related records five years after the unclaimed property becomes reportable or until completion of an audit, whichever comes first.

Penalties. a person may not knowingly fail to render a report. Failure to timely report unclaimed funds subjects the holder to a civil penalty of $100 per day. Failure to file a report upon request within four months of the request subjects the holder to a civil penalty of an additional $100 per day. The maximum penalty is $500.

A person may not knowingly refuse to pay or deliver unclaimed funds. Failure to pay or make subject to an agreement unclaimed funds subject the holder to interest payments from the date prescribed for payment until the date settlement is made. In addition, a civil penalty of 100 percent of the amount of unclaimed funds not reported or underreported is imposed for each month (up to 25 months) from the date prescribed for payment until settlement is made. The maximum penalty is $500.

The Director may waive penalties for good cause and will waive penalties if the holder shows reasonable grounds for noncompliance.

Claiming Unclaimed Property in Ohio

In Ohio, property is generally presumed abandoned if it remains unclaimed by the owner three to five years. 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 state.

Locating abandoned property held by the state. By November 1 of the year following the year in which a report is required, the Director of Commerce publishes notice in an English language newspaper of general circulation in the county of the last known address of an owner. If no address is listed, the notice is published in the county in which the holder of the unclaimed funds has its principal place of business in the state. The notice contains the name and address of any owner of unclaimed funds valued at $50 or more, a description of the funds, and instructions on how to claim the funds. Unclaimed funds valued at $50 or more are listed by owner and beneficiary in the office of the Director.

Unclaimed property held by the state may also be found by searching the state's website.

To find out if other states may be holding your unclaimed property, search the national database established by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).

Filing a claim. Any person claiming an interest in property delivered to the Department of Commerce may fill out a state claim inquiry form after performing a successful search. You can either print, complete, and mail in the inquiry form or, if you are unable to print the form, you can submit the information on-line and a claim form will be mailed to you to continue the process.

The Director prepares a finding and decision in writing stating the substance of evidence received and the reason for the decision. The evidence and decision are public record. No statute of limitations bars the allowance of a claim.

Any person adversely affected by a decision of the Director may appeal the decision.

Ohio 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 Ohio, contact the following:

Ohio Division of Unclaimed Funds
77 South High Street, 20th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6108
Phone: (614) 466-4433
Fax: (614) 752-5078
E-mail: unfd.claims@com.state.oh.us
Website: http://www.com.state.oh.us/unfd/

Ohio Abandoned Property Time Limits

Property Type Presumed Abandoned After
Bank account five years
Checks or drafts five years
Demutualization proceeds no specific provision
Gift certificates, gift cards, and credit memos customer credit memos: three years
gift certificates, gift cards, and customer credits that are redeemable only for merchandise are exempt from unclaimed property reporting requirements
Insurance policies Life or annuity policies: three years
The presumed maturity of an insurance policy is three years
IRAs or retirement funds IRAs and qualified retirement plan funds: three years
Funds owed under pensions or profit sharing plans: one year
Money orders seven years
Other intangible personal property not otherwise specified advances and security for rents or leases, funds owed to suppliers, royalties, and oil and mineral proceeds: one year
Excess proceeds from the sale of items in a storage facility: two years
Other property, including amounts paid on unclaimed lay-aways: three years
Proceeds from class action suits no specific provision
Property distributable by a business association in the course of dissolution one year
Property held by courts or public agencies three years
Property held by fiduciaries escrow funds and security deposits with licensed brokers: two years
Other property: three years
Safe deposit boxes three years
Shares in a financial institution five years
Stocks, dividends, and distributions five years
Includes automatic dividend reinvestment plans
Traveler's checks 15 years
Deposits and advances owed utility company customer deposits, refunds, and advances: one year
Wages or salaries securities broker commissions: five years
Other wages or salaries: one year

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