Unclaimed Property Rules and Time Limits for Pennsylvania
Learn the unclaimed property rules and their time limits for the state of Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Pennsylvania Treasury Department Unclaimed Property Bureau.
- 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).
Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania property is generally presumed abandoned three years after the owner's right to demand the property or the obligation to pay or distribute the property arises, whichever comes first. 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 Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, every person holding property that became subject to the custody and control of the state during the preceding year must file a report with the State Treasurer by April 15. The State Treasurer may allow an extension of up to six months.
The report must include the following information:
- if known, the name and last known address of the owner of any property (except traveler's checks and money orders) valued at $50 or more;
- a description of the property, including any identifying number, and the amount due, with items valued under $50 reported in the aggregate;
- the date the property became payable, demandable, or returnable, or the date upon which the property was declared or found to be without a rightful owner;
- the date of the owner's last transaction regarding the property; and
- any other information requested by the Treasurer.
Prior notice to owner. Pennsylvania has no specific requirements concerning holders giving prior notice to owners before remitting unclaimed property to the state.
Delivery. a holder of abandoned property must deliver it to the State Treasurer by April 15 of the year following the year in which the property first became subject to the custody and control of the state. If an owner has claimed the property, or if for some other reason it appears that the property is not subject to the custody and control of the state, the holder must file a verified written explanation with the Treasurer.
Recordkeeping. The Treasurer may examine the records of people suspected of holding abandoned property. When a holder's records do not exist or are insufficient for examination, the State Treasurer may apply sampling and estimation procedures to determine a holder's liability.
Penalties. a holder that fails to report or deliver property is liable to the Treasurer for interest at the rate of 12 percent per year from the time the report should have been filed.
A holder that fails to file a report may also be convicted and fined $100 for each day the report is withheld, up to a maximum of $1,000. A holder that fails to deliver the property may be convicted of a misdemeanor and fined between $1000 and $10,000, imprisoned for up to 24 months, or both. The Treasurer may waive interest and penalties if a holder shows good cause. The Treasurer must waive penalties if the holder acted in good faith and without negligence.
Claiming Unclaimed Property in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, property is generally presumed abandoned three years after the owner's right to demand the property or the obligation to pay or distribute the property arises, whichever comes first. 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. Unclaimed property held by the state may be found by searching the state's website (http://www.patreasury.org/Unclaimed/Search.html).
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 abandoned property delivered to the Commonwealth may file a claim on the form prescribed by the State Treasurer. The Treasurer will consider the claim and may hold a hearing and receive evidence concerning it.
Any person claiming an interest in property delivered to the Treasurer may begin the process by filling out a claim form online (http://www.patreasury.org/Unclaimed/Search.html) after performing a successful online search. In some cases, you will be directed to contact the Treasurer's office to determine eligibility.
An owner that reclaims property from the Treasurer is entitled to any income received on the property while it was in the custody of the Treasurer.
A person whose claim is denied or not acted upon within 90 days may bring an action in the Commonwealth Court within 30 days of the Treasurer's decision or within 120 days from filing an unprocessed claim.
Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania, contact the following:
Pennsylvania State Treasurer
Bureau of Unclaimed Property
P.O. Box 1837
Harrisburg, PA 17105-1837
Phone: (800) 379-3999 (holders of unclaimed property), (800) 222-2046 (owners of unclaimed property)
Fax: (717) 787-9079
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (holders of unclaimed property), email@example.com (owners of unclaimed property)
Pennsylvania Abandoned Property Time Limits
|Property Type ||Presumed Abandoned After |
|Bank account ||five years |
|Checks or drafts ||five years |
|Demutualization proceeds ||two years |
|Gift certificates, gift cards, and credit memos ||Gift certificates: two years after the redemption period or five years after issuance if there is no redemption period. |
|Insurance policies ||Life or annuity policies: five years.
The presumed maturity of an insurance policy is two years.
|IRAs or retirement funds ||no specific provision |
|Money orders ||seven years |
|Other intangible personal property not otherwise specified ||five years
Includes bonds, debentures, and payments from cooperatives to patrons.
|Proceeds from class action suits ||no specific provision |
|Property distributable by a business association in the course of dissolution ||two years |
|Property held by courts or public agencies ||Tangible property: three years. |
|Property held by fiduciaries ||five |
|Safe deposit boxes ||five years |
|Shares in a financial institution ||five years |
|Stocks, dividends, and distributions ||five years |
|Traveler's checks ||15 years |
|Deposits and advances owed utility company customer ||five years
Refunds: two years.
|Wages or salaries ||two years |