Old paycheck found, now what?
April 26, 2011 5:16 PM   Subscribe

What should I do about an old paycheck of mine I just found?

I've worked for the same small college for most of the past two decades. Today when I was cleaning up a shelf of assorted papers in my office, I found a pay envelope from nearly 15 years ago. Inside, to my surprise, was a monthly paycheck, apparently from before I switched to direct deposit.

It is possible that I lost this, and had it reissued. On the other hand, it is possible that I got it, lost it, and never realized it. (I was notorious at the time for waiting and depositing 1-3 paychecks at a time, when I got around to going to the bank.)

Would the school still have records as to if this check was ever reissued? The envelope had been opened, so maybe I did so to call it in for repayment. I know I did do that at least once.

As 1996 was a while ago, if was never cashed or reissued, would the school still be obliged to reissue me a check? What about taxes? Would I owe anything on the reissued money?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (18 answers total)
Sorry, but usually after six months you're pretty much SOL; even if your employer didn't replace it at the time, there's no requirement they do it now.
posted by easily confused at 5:20 PM on April 26, 2011

15 years ago? Tear it in half and throw it away.
posted by Justinian at 5:22 PM on April 26, 2011

If the school still uses the same bank account with routing number, which isn't that far fetched for a small college using a small town bank, it will go through. The six month thing only applies to UCC transactions.
posted by geoff. at 5:23 PM on April 26, 2011

Even if you could cash it, I don't think you would owe taxes on it. Presumably it was included in the wages that were reported to you on your 1996 W-2, so you would already have paid taxes on it.
posted by cabingirl at 5:44 PM on April 26, 2011

I unwittingly destroyed a paycheck from my university where I had a student job. Ten years later, I claimed it through the state treasurer's unclaimed property department. Try doing that before you attempt to cash it.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:53 PM on April 26, 2011 [13 favorites]

I would just try to deposit it and see what happens.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:55 PM on April 26, 2011

Infinitewindow has it. Your state may be holding these funds for you.
posted by mochapickle at 6:07 PM on April 26, 2011

The six month thing only applies to UCC transactions.

Not necessarily. Most paychecks have a "Void after six months" provision on the actual instrument to permit employers to clean up their books so as to avoid situations just like this one.
posted by valkyryn at 6:16 PM on April 26, 2011

Most paychecks have a "Void after six months" provision on the actual instrument

Is that enforceable?
posted by grouse at 6:21 PM on April 26, 2011

Bank teller here. It's enforceable. If you're able to deposit this check and end up receiving the funds, it'll be due solely to oversight on the parts of multiple people.
posted by telegraph at 6:31 PM on April 26, 2011

I thought, though, that the six months had to do with cashing the check itself, not whether money was still owed.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:00 PM on April 26, 2011

Merely tendering a check does not satisfy a debt, the check also has to clear. For example, it may be charged back to the payee's account for insufficient funds.
posted by canoehead at 7:08 PM on April 26, 2011

Put it into your ATM and hope for the best.
posted by k8t at 7:09 PM on April 26, 2011

Go to the payroll office and try not to make them laugh?
posted by gjc at 7:17 PM on April 26, 2011

There's really nothing to lose in explaining this to the accounting/payroll department and asking them nicely if they'll re-issue the check for you.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:22 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Former payroll company worker and HR person here. All uncashed paychecks are supposed to be escheated to the state's unclaimed property division. It used to be my job to do this, it is a pain in the ass but it has to happen. So like infinitewindow says, check there first.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:13 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Third vote for checking your state's unclaimed property division. You may even be able to check online.
posted by zombiedance at 10:04 PM on April 26, 2011

Hold on to it for a few years if you can't cash it. Sometimes numismatists (old currency collectors) are interested in such things. ;)
posted by plep at 5:36 AM on April 27, 2011

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