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Stale-dated checks: What to do with them?

Posted Mar 07, 2015

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You have just finished reconciling your bank statement and you notice that a check you wrote six months ago has still not cleared your bank account. What do you do about it?

First, determine if it is a live check or not (such as an automatic withdrawal or credit card charge).  Make sure that a replacement check was not cut or an order cancelled.  If a replacement check was cut, then void the outstanding check.

If a live check was issued, write a letter to the vendor stating that the check (indicate check number, date and amount) has not cleared the bank. It is recommended to send the letter certified mail. If the vendor responds, you can move forward with a replacement check and voiding the outstanding check. If the vendor fails to respond, do not just void the check. The State of Arizona wants to know about that money.

The State of Arizona has an unclaimed property unit, found here:

What is unclaimed property?  Unclaimed property consists of:

  • Outstanding payroll and vendor checks
  • Matured certificates of deposit
  • Savings and checking accounts
  • Uncashed dividends
  • Principal on debt
  • Uncashed money orders, cashier’s checks, traveler’s checks, and other official checks
  • Unreturned and unused security deposits
  • Accounts receivable credit balances and discounts due
  • Escrow balances
  • Property held by courts and other governmental entities
  • Amounts due under terms of insurance policies

If you have property that falls into any of the above categories, you may need to report it to the State of Arizona. Visit the unclaimed property website and click on the “Holders” tab to report the property for further instruction. There are forms that need to be completed and you will need to remit the funds to the state. The state will then hold those funds while they attempt to find the payee.

As an aside, search for your own name or company. According to the website, the state’s Unclaimed Property Section holds over $1 billion in unclaimed property. You may discover funds that the state has been holding for you!

As a general disclaimer, the information provided above is very general and broad in nature, is not represented as complete, and may not apply to taxpayers’ individual situations. We advise all taxpayers to consult a professional tax advisor regarding their own specific needs. 

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