Finding money owed to you with the State Comptroller’s Office previously was as simple as 1-2-3 but as of last September the process has become more difficult. Unclaimed money for years has been a guaranteed way of cashing in on some extra funds for a number of citizens. The amount can vary from as little as 25 cents to thousands of dollars and until recently to claim your funds all you had to do was go to www.ClaimItTexas.org, type in your name and press search. If your name appeared you would fill out a form and send it to the Comptroller’s office.
Now, if you visit the site, it states funds under $25 are not listed. So how do you know if you have money that is owed to you if it’s not listed? How will you go about claiming your funds if the State’s website does not list them? It may seem like a trivial amount, however last year alone the Comptroller’s office processed 34,000 claims for funds less than $25.
The Comptroller’s office claims it is committed to transparency and keeping its citizenry informed so why the change? According to an official from the Comptroller’s office it’s a matter of numbers. The claim is, the average small claim is $10 and it requires $13 to process each request, alluding to the State losing money.
According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Annual Financial Report of 2014, the unclaimed property fund received $460 million in gross revenues, made $205 million in claimant payments and transferred $255 million to the general fund.
Unclaimed money in the state of Texas is steadily rising and has hit an all time high, $4 billion according to the State Comptroller’s Office. And what do they do with all of those funds when no one claims them? According to the law, the State cannot use the funds, however they can be used as a source of state revenue. In other words, lawmakers can use these funds to inflate their state budgets.
Unclaimed money comes from a number of sources. Some of which include:
- Dividend, payroll or cashier’s checks
- Stocks, mutual fund accounts, bonds
- Utility deposits and other refunds
- Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents
- Insurance proceeds
- Mineral interest or royalty payments
- Court deposits, trust funds, escrow accounts
All businesses entities as well as government institutions are required by state law to report any funds or property when the rightful owner fails to claim it. However, until recently these businesses were not required to provide the owner’s details for properties under $50. So for example, in 2014 the Comptroller’s office received $9.5 million reported as aggregate properties that could not be published, claimed, or returned to rightful owners because the property was reported without the owner’s information. This restricted the ability of citizens’ ability to claim ownership of their property.
It is not only the duty and responsibility of the State to make any and all public information easily assessable to consumers but also act in good faith. By removing funds under $25 from its website the State Comptroller’s Office is purposely engaging in trickery and disenfranchising a large portion of Texans. As it happens, one in four Texans has money being held by the State Comptroller’s Office waiting to be claimed.