WASHINGTON, D.C. (WBRE/WYOU) — Most of us will never know what it’s like to hit a million-dollar jackpot, but we might have a couple hundred dollars with our name on it sitting in the U.S. Treasury.
A Louisiana senator is working to pay out $26 billion in unclaimed savings bonds to the people who own them. Jessi Turnure reports his bill is advancing in Congress, but the Treasury is fighting back.
“You wonder why people hate government. This is why,” U.S. Senator John Kennedy – (R) Louisiana said.
Kennedy is upset because he says the U.S. Treasury Department is holding on to $26 billion that doesn’t belong to them.
“If you don’t pay your taxes in the right amount and on time, the IRS will chase you like a hound from Hades. They’ll take your firstborn. Well, here’s a case where the government owes people money,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy, Louisiana’s former state treasurer, is trying to bring what he did at the state level to the federal level: Pay out matured, unclaimed savings bonds to the people who own them. His legislation would force the U.S. Treasury Department to share those names and addresses with the state treasury departments.
“They just kind of sit over there, sitting on the money and sucking on their teeth,” Kennedy said.
The federal government has argued in court that states have no ownership claim over the bonds and it would take too much time and money to organize the records.
“Well, if you believe that, you probably also believe Bigfoot,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy is in charge of the treasury’s budget. On Wednesday, his subcommittee advanced an appropriation bill that includes his legislation and an extra $25 million to digitize the unclaimed savings bonds records. But the department could still fight to remove the provisions.
“At some point, if my friends at Treasury don’t come around, I’m going to go see the president straight up, man to man and just say, ‘Mr. President, this just isn’t right,'” Kennedy said.
If you want to find out if you have unclaimed savings bonds, you currently have to mail in a “>form to the Treasury Department.