News for Constituents

Unclaimed Property Awaits Rightful Owners 

More than $136 million in unclaimed tangible property and money was returned to its rightful owners during 2015, according to the Pennsylvania Treasury.

The Treasury reports it began 2016 seeking the legal owners of $2.5 billion in unclaimed property.  Claimants are encouraged to file a claim form, free of charge, with the Bureau of Unclaimed Property rather than pay the 15% maximum finder’s fee.

One in 10 residents have unclaimed property.  The increased popularity of gift certificates and gift cards can also bring an increase in unclaimed property, as Pennsylvania requires those with an expiration date and/or any fees to be reported as unclaimed property.  Search the Treasury’s Unclaimed Property data base or call the toll-free number, 800-222-2046, for information and assistance.

Preventing Home Burglaries

Summer vacations and weekend excursions may leave your home vulnerable to burglars, according to the Pennsylvania State Police.

The greatest number of burglaries occur in July, amplified by increased daylight and poorly secured doors and windows.  The PSP report burglars break into a house, apartment or condominium every 11 minutes.

Take steps to protect your family and property from burglary:

  • Lock all doors and windows.
  • Keep travel plans private.
  • Avoid notes on doors.
  • Pay attention to unfamiliar people and vehicles.
  • Break down and conceal under your trash the boxes from large purchases.
  • Install solid wood or steel exterior doors.
  • Remove, relocate, or trim landscaping elements serving as cover for burglars.
  • Secure ladders, screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, or other tools that may aid a burglar.
  • Use vertical bolts and a stick in your sliding glass door’s track.
  • Establish a Neighborhood Watch.

Review additional crime prevention recommendations from the PSP for a safe and secure summer.

Financial Planning and Kids 

Publications and reports can assist parents when conveying to kids the importance of financial issues, according to the PA Department of Banking.

The Pennsylvania Treasury is making one such publication available entitled “Money As You Grow: 20 Things Kids Need to Know to Live Financially Smart Lives”.  Beginning with 3 to 5 year olds and continuing in stages up to 18 years and older, the “Money As You Grow” teaching tool is intended to introduce financial concepts at the appropriate age for comprehension.

The PA Department of Banking offers three publications for students and young adults, including 12 Investing Principles That Every Young Person Should Know, 40 Money Management Tips Every College Student Should Know, and Money: Save It, Invest It, Do It As A Career.  Parents are also invited to take advantage of the PA DOB publications geared toward adults.

Pennsylvania Adopts Rear-Facing Child Car Seat Requirement

In mid-August, Pennsylvania will begin requiring children under 2 years of age to be transported in rear-facing child seats to increase the protection of an infant’s head, neck and spine, according to the Pennsylvania State Police.

Act 43 of 2016, signed into law June 13, 2016, (SB 1152 of 2015) establishes a primary offense, permitting an officer to stop an offending driver.  The violator will pay a fine up to $100 plus court costs, $30 for the CAT Fund, $10 for the Emergency Medical Services Fund and a $10 fee for administrative costs.  Violators will receive only a verbal warning during the introductory one-year grace period.  The fines will be dismissed at the hearing for those presenting evidence of acquisition of an appropriate child seat.

Current law requires an approved car seat for children under 4 years of age.  Pennsylvania joins California, New Jersey and Oklahoma in requiring rear-facing child seats, in line with recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Threats to PA Trees 

The ash tree is being invaded by the emerald ash borer, the hemlock is fighting the hemlock woolly adelgid and elongate hemlock scale, while the mighty oak is threatened by oak wilt, according to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Most obvious signs and symptoms of an emerald ash borer infestation are D-shaped larvae exit holes, S-shaped larval tracks under the tree bark, splitting and flaking bark, and woodpecker activity.

The hemlock woolly adelgid’s life cycle includes winged and wingless adults and may be most noticeable when the reddish-brown crawlers produce white, waxy, cottony or wool-like tufts covering their bodies for life.

The first symptoms of oak wilt, a deadly fungus for oak trees, are leaf browning and dropping from the top down while still partially green.  The process continues to move downward with twigs and branches dying off.

Locate answers to combatting threats to your ash, hemlock and oak trees through the PA DCNR and the Penn State Extension.

Property Tax and Rent Rebate Deadline Extension

Pennsylvania is extending from June 30, 2016 until December 31, 2016 the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program deadline for eligible Pennsylvanians and issuing a reminder that free application assistance is available through local Area Agencies on Aging, Senior Centers and PA Department of Revenue district offices.

Age, income and disability are critical eligibility factors.  First time filers will need photocopies of documents providing proof of age, a spouse’s death certificate if widowed, and proof of permanent disability, if applicable.

Obtain the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program application online or by mail or call 1-888-PATAXES.  Questions may be answered by the Online Customer Service Center.  If you have already applied and 8 to 10 weeks have lapsed since filing, contact the PA Department of Revenue for a status report on your rebate.