DOR to Santa: IOU at least $100

When Santa and his gift-loaded sleigh make their way through the state this week, the man in red could add a little weight to his wallet via the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

That’s because Santa is listed as a claimant for some money through the state’s unclaimed property database.

According to the DOR, unclaimed property is any financial asset that hasn’t had owner activity for one year or more, and attempts to contact the owner have been unsuccessful. Financial assets that can become unclaimed include savings or checking accounts, uncashed dividends, refunds, matured life insurance policies and more.

A spokeswoman for the DOR, Nicole Anspach, confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the unclaimed property database shows Mr. Claus is owed between $100 to $1,000 from a 2004 report by the State Bank Financial.

Anspach said confidentiality laws related to personal finance records prevented her from disclosing the exact amount that Santa is owed.

The money that’s connected to Santa Claus’ name is listed under Tara Johnson, who is the primary claimant on that record, Anspach said.

“I can’t say why he’s listed as a secondary owner,” Anspach said. “But basically, the claim instructions would list everything that you would need to prove rightful ownership. If you can claim you’re the rightful owner, we’ll happily pay you the money that we’re holding.”

While she can’t disclose the specifics on the origin of the unclaimed cash, Anspach said unclaimed funds reported by banks could be the result of an account going dormant. If the institution isn’t able to get in touch with the account holder within a certain amount of time, the money is filed with the DOR.

If Santa’s workload this Christmas keeps him too busy to get online and fill out the required paperwork to claim his clams, there’s no rush. Anspach said there’s no time limit to file a claim and the money will be held by the state indefinitely.

No matter if the bills total closer to a Benjamin or a G, if Santa’s determined to return to the North Pole with an empty sleigh, he can feel free to slip the extra scratch under the tree, for me. And some for my friend Jon, whose curiosity revealed the Jolly Old Elf’s unclaimed coin today.

To see if you have any cash gifts waiting under the DOR’s (figurative) unclaimed property tree, visit www.revenue.wi.gov/ucp/index.html and search the online database. Instructions on how to claim are also available online at www.revenue.wi.gov/forms/ucp/ucp-160i.pdf.

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Tabatha Wethal is part of the News 3 team working as a community reporter for Channel3000.com and its 16 community sites since 2012.