Thousands waiting to make unclaimed property claims in Wisconsin - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Thousands waiting to make unclaimed property claims in Wisconsin

Thousands of people are waiting for the state to return money that's theirs, and the line is getting longer.

Wisconsin State Treasurer, Kurt Schuller, said, "This is a very important service to the people of Wisconsin." Schuller said shifting oversight of unclaimed property requests from his office to the Department of Revenue has damaged a once effective program. As of last month, 7,300 people were waiting to make claims, compared to the 1,200 people waiting when the D.O.R took control of the program. Schuller said, "That's a whole lot. It's 6 times what we usually averaged."

The change was made in the most recent state budget, so the Department of Revenue took control of the program in July 2013. "You can immediately see the results of the difference between an elected official handling it and the results after the  bureaucracy has it," said Schuller.
But, the D.O.R. says a so-called "bureaucracy" isn't to blame. It says the technology behind the unclaimed property program was antiquated. Schuller said, "When the administration of the UCP was transferred, there were many operational issues, beyond standard processing of claims, that presented challenges." "In some cases, D.O.R. needed to rebuild basic operations," said Assistant Deputy Secretary Jennifer Western.

The D.O.R. says it's now spending roughly a million dollars to update the system. Schuller doesn't think that's necessary. "We were using that same technology. It's just a bureaucratic excuse for their inability to have the same sort of success that we've had, said Schuller."

 Meanwhile, the Department of Revenue said it can deal with the reported backlog. The department said D.O.R. processes over 3 million individual income tax returns and issues billions in refunds. We believe the current claim inventory is certainly manageable."

Click here for the State Department of Treasurer's website to search for unclaimed property.

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