13 May 2024

How to find out if you have unclaimed money sitting with the IRD - and how to get your hands on it

12:02 pm on 13 May 2024
Pile of New Zealand currency laying flat on table

Photo: 123RF

IRD is holding millions of dollars in unclaimed funds.

Like many people, this is probably news to you. But how do you know if some of it is yours and perhaps more importantly, how do you claim it? RNZ is here to clear it all up.

Why have I not heard about this, it this legit?

It seems like a lot of people have never heard of IRD's unclaimed funds but yes, it is legitimate (if you go through the official IRD website).

IRD says people need to watch out for scammers who contact them saying they have unclaimed money waiting for you.

Here are some signs someone is trying to scam you.

How do I know if I have unclaimed money?

There are two ways to do this.

You can search for yourself in myIR. Just log in, click on 'I want to...' and go to 'Registration, application and enrolment'. Then select 'Apply for unclaimed money'.

Or you can search the IRD website. This is the option to choose if you're searching on behalf of someone else, you want to search by a previous name you've gone by, you don't have myIR account or you are searching on behalf of an organisation, trust or estate.

You'll need to provide information to help confirm you're the person the money belongs to. This might be past contact information, an old statement or letter from an organisation or person, or a copy of a will.

Is this different to a tax refund?

Yes. Put simply, unclaimed money is held by IRD when someone can't be found.

It could be that you had an old bank account with some money in it that you hadn't used in five years, or you have unpaid wages from over five years ago.

You may have left something at a hotel, or hostel and after six months of it going unclaimed the business owner sold it and passed the money to IRD.

The Māori Trustee may be holding funds for you - it holds money in the common fund for at least 10 years and if no claim has been made for that money during that time, it will become unclaimed money.

Other reasons might be unclaimed dividends, proceeds of life insurance policies and awards from court cases or prisoners' allowances.

How long does IRD hold the money for?

If you don't claim the money within 25 years, you won't be able to.

What happens if I don't claim it?

Eventually, any unclaimed money is transferred to the Crown.

How long will it take for me to get my money?

Generally it takes 10-12 weeks to receive the money but with more people currently searching for unclaimed funds at the moment, IRD may take longer to process a claim.

Attaching as much evidence as possible with your submission helps to avoid even further delays.

IRD will let you know if your claim is successful once it's processed.

How much is currently unclaimed?

As at 31 March 2024, there was $477,161,702.10 of unclaimed money

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