Last Modified: Thursday, August 23, 2012 11:24 AM
BATON ROUGE (AP) — More than $2.5 million in uncashed state income tax refunds are scheduled to be deposited into the state treasury on Friday.
The Advocate reported the money will become unclaimed property, joining more than $500 million in paychecks, apartment deposits, gift certificates, mutual funds and stocks as well as oil and gas royalties currently held by state government because no one has stepped forward to claim them.
State Revenue Secretary Jane Smith said some people heeded her office's recent warning that they needed to make arrangements to claim their at least 14-month-old refunds.
Of the 7,462 taxpayers notified by mail about their uncashed checks, 2,173 responded and claimed $1.7 million, she said. Still on a trajectory to the state treasury is $2.7 million owed to more than 5,000 taxpayers.
"We do every way in the world to try to inform people that this money is there. I don't know if it's people who moved, (who) don't open their mail," Smith said.
Once the money becomes unclaimed property, it cannot be spent by state government on hospitals, roads and other public expenses. Instead, it sits in the treasury until it is claimed.
State Treasurer John Kennedy said he returned $27 million to citizens last year. At the same time, he said, his office received $73 million in unclaimed property.
"For every dollar we return, we get in two to three (dollars) in new money," he said.
Property is considered abandoned when a company cannot locate the property owner for a number of years. Utility deposits are held for a year before being released to the state. Traveler's checks can be held 15 years.
"We've been very aggressive with the national retailers about gift cards. We are involved in litigation with the national life insurance companies. If someone dies and there's a life insurance policy, they can't just sit on that money," Kennedy said.
The state Treasurer's Office has an online database, https://www.treasury.state.la.us/ucpm/UP/index.asp, for people to search to see if they have unclaimed property.