Unclaimed property

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 and similar businesses include:

  • Unclaimed wages such as payroll checks; and
  • 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 may not charge any kind of fees on gift certificates and balance $5 and less must be refunded at the owner's request.

When is property considered abandoned?

Most property is presumed abandoned after three years.

When should I report unclaimed property?

A business that has unclaimed property must report before November 1 each year.

Unclaimed property forms are available via the Department’s web site, e-mail UCP, or by calling (360) 534-1502.

References: RCW 63.29 170(4)