Friday, January 11, 2013
7 News Investigations: Cashing In
Every day, politicians talk about taxes, spending, money, money, money. They control your money, but guess what: They apparently don't even know they have money just waiting for the government to claim. Lots and lots and money. But as Patrick Fraser reports, they just aren't cashing in.
But when we started looking, we found Uncle Sam has lots and lots of something they don't know about, and it is money.
"Disgusted, that's my taxes going up, and they're sitting on all this money. It's disgusting, outrageous."
How much money does the government have that they don't use? Let us get started.
We began checking the state of Florida's unclaimed fund site for South Florida federal agencies, and found the Justice Department has money waiting. The Labor Department, the Defense Department, your U.S. senators who like to raise your taxes have money they don't even touch. The FBI, who is in charge of tracking criminals, apparently isn't good at checking their own accounts.
The list of federal agencies with cash on hand goes on and on and on.
"It's wrong. Not claiming money that should be claimed for us. It's wrong. They take the taxes out of us, right?"
And how much of taxpayers' money is just sitting there waiting for the federal agencies to pick up?
Let's take a look at the agencies just in Miami-Dade.
According to state records, the IRS has $5,700 waiting to be picked up. The Veterans Administration? Nineteen hundred dollars. The Federal Reserve tracks dollars. We tracked down $5,000 they have sitting there.
The Small Business Administration, in charge of keeping track of money loaned to small businesses, apparently doesn't know they have nearly $11,000 of their money just sitting there. And neither does an agency listed as United States of America, which can pick up a check for $20,000.
Altogether we found that federal agencies have nearly $70,000 in cash waiting for them in Miami-Dade County alone.
"Can I claim it for you, please? Thank you."
No, you and I can't, and the money is piled up for federal agencies in Broward as well. Ten thousand five hundred dollars for the Postmaster. Maybe they can use that to postpone raising stamp prices. The Bureau of Indian Affairs must be so loaded with cash that they don't need the $13,000 that's waiting for them.
And the total Broward, we found federal agencies are owed $47,000.
"I'm trying to make ends meet. To know that there's just money sitting there, it's disgusting."
Patrick Fraser: "Why hasn't the money been picked up? We contacted several federal agencies. None knew the money is waiting for their agency to pick up. No one had a good reason why they didn't know. And one spokesman surprised us. Instead of saying, 'That's good to know, we need the money,' he said, 'Why are you calling us about this?' Oh well, and if you think it's just federal agencies in South Florida, think again."
We checked the federal agencies across the state of Florida. We found 36 different checks waiting for the IRS to claim. The state does not give us access to the amounts outside South Florida, so we have no idea how much money is waiting for the tax collecting agency to collect.
Look at what the Federal Reserve can pick up. Notice each claim. It's cash, cash waiting for that federal agency to claim.
Again, look at what the post office can mail to themselves. One account after another: cash, cash, cash.
"We keep spending out all our money. Why is this money not being claimed?"
And it's not just Florida. We rang the IRS in California. At just Bank of America they have $108,000 waiting to be claimed. Neither Bank of America nor the IRS wanted to talk about it.
"I want to know why they're not doing anything about it. Instead of just letting it sit there, do something about it."
Think about it. Fifty states across the country, hundreds of government agencies, with millions waiting to be picked up. Maybe they should stop raising taxes for a few minutes, and start cashing in. I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.