Unclaimed Property

Unclaimed Property https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/shutterstock_42592132.jpg
What is “unclaimed property”?

Unclaimed property is money or intangible property held for a period of time with no owner contact. The Washington Unclaimed Property Act protects unclaimed property until it is returned to its rightful owner or their heir. The Department of Revenue acts as custodian for safe keeping of the property until the rightful owner can be located. When reported to the Department, abandoned property is available for refund to the owner or legal claimant indefinitely.

Washington state law requires businesses and other organizations to review their records each year to determine whether they hold any property that has been unclaimed for a set period of time. Businesses must file an annual report and deliver the property to the state.

What type of unclaimed property does a restaurant have?

The most common types of unclaimed property held by restaurants include:

Unclaimed wages such as payroll checks

Customer credits

Unredeemed gift certificates issued prior to July 1, 2001

Gift certificates issued after July 1, 2001, may be retained if any listed expiration date is not enforced. For gift certificates issued after July 1, 2004, no expiration date is permitted. After July 1, 2004, retailers, including restaurants, may not charge fees on gift certificates. Balances of $5 and less must be refunded at owner’s request.

When is property considered abandoned?

Most property is presumed abandoned after three years, however, wage or payroll checks are presumed abandoned one year from the date payable to the employee.

When should I report unclaimed property?

A business that has unclaimed property must report by November 1 each year. Unclaimed property forms are available via the Department’s website, via e-mail to UPC@dor.wa.gov, or by calling 800.435.2429.

Reference: 63.29.RCW


Rev. 1/3/17

This article is an excerpt from the Handbook for Excellent Restaurant Operations (HERO), published by the Washington Hospitality Association.  Want a hard copy of the whole manual?  It’s one of the many benefits of becoming a member!  Find out more about joining the Washington Hospitality Association here.

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