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Unclaimed Property Rules and Time Limits for Texas

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 Texas.

In Texas, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Unclaimed Property Division of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

  • 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).

Texas 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 Texas personal property is generally presumed abandoned if the existence and location of its owner is unknown to the holder for more than three years and a claim to the property has not been asserted or an act of ownership has not been exercised within that period. 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 Texas

In Texas, any person who, on June 30, holds property that is presumed abandoned must file a report of that property with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts by November 1. The preferred method for submitting a report is through the secure Unclaimed Property Secure Holder Reporting site. Paper, diskette, CD ROM, Magnetic Tape Cartridge, and Magnetic Tape Reel reports may also be mailed to the Comptroller.

Prior notice to owner. Holders are encouraged, but not required, to make reasonable efforts to locate owners early in the abandonment period.

Delivery. Any person who, on June 30, holds property that is presumed abandoned must deliver the property to the Comptroller by November 1. However, the Comptroller may set an earlier date for the delivery of the contents of a safe deposit box.

Recordkeeping. A business must generally maintain related records 10 years after the unclaimed property becomes reportable.

Penalties. a penalty equal to five percent of the value of the property due is imposed on a holder who fails to pay or deliver property within the required time. If a holder fails to pay or deliver property before the 31st day after the date the property is due, an additional penalty equal to five percent of the value of the property is imposed.

The Comptroller may waive penalty or interest charges imposed on delinquent property if it is determined that the holder has made a good faith effort to comply with the delivery requirements.

Claiming Unclaimed Property in Texas

In Texas, personal property is generally presumed abandoned if the existence and location of its owner is unknown to the holder for more than three years and a claim to the property has not been asserted or an act of ownership has not been exercised within that period. 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 (https://txcpa.cpa.state.tx.us/up/Search.jsp).

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. The owner of personal property that has been delivered to a depository or to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts as unclaimed property may file a claim for such property (or for the cash proceeds, if the property has been sold). To start the process, fill out a state claim inquiry form available online (https://txcpa.cpa.state.tx.us/up/Search.jsp) after performing a successful search. The Comptroller will contact you with how to proceed from there.

If the owner is dissatisfied with the Comptroller's decision on the claim, the owner may appeal the decision before the 61st day after the day on which it was rendered. If a claim has not been decided before the 91st day after the day on which it was filed, the claimant may appeal within the 60-day period beginning on the 91st day after the day of filing. Any appeal must be made by filing suit against the state in a district court in Travis County, Texas.

Texas 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 Texas, contact the following:

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Unclaimed Property Division
Research and Correspondence Section
P.O. Box 12019
Austin, TX 78711-2019
Phone: (800) 654-FIND (3463), (512) 936-6246
Fax: (512) 936-6224
E-mail: unclaimed.property@cpa.state.tx.us
Website: http://window.state.tx.us/up/

Texas Abandoned Property Time Limits

Property Type Presumed Abandoned After
Bank account five years
Checks or drafts three years
Demutualization proceeds one year
Gift certificates, gift cards, and credit memos Gift certificates: the earlier of the certificate's expiration date or other dates specified.
Insurance policies no specific provision
IRAs or retirement funds no specific provision
Money orders seven years
Other intangible personal property not otherwise specified three years
Includes mineral proceeds.
Proceeds from class action suits no specific provision
Property distributable by a business association in the course of dissolution no specific provision
Property held by courts or public agencies no specific provision
Property held by fiduciaries no specific provision
Safe deposit boxes five years
Shares in a financial institution no specific provision
Stocks, dividends, and distributions no specific provision
Traveler's checks 15 years
Deposits and advances owed utility company customer no specific provision
Wages or salaries one year

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