Canadians finding hundreds of dollars in unclaimed cheques on CRA website

A little-known feature on the Canada Revenue Agency's website is netting some Canadians hundreds of dollars they are owed from uncashed government cheques.

The windfall ended up on people's radar thanks to a Reddit post by user hdrons, and a tweet by Toronto Maple Leafs fan account @3rdperiodsuits:

Twitter users very quickly discovered they were owed money from things like GST payments or unclaimed tax returns:

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) seemed just fine with it, too:

In a statement, CRA spokesperson Etienne Biram said this is money that "belongs to Canadians."

"In order to help taxpayers reclaim these long lost funds, we recently soft launched this new feature to let taxpayers know if they have an uncashed cheque with the CRA," Biram said.

Adam Lesco told CBC News that he discovered four uncashed cheques dating back to 2010, totalling $244.

"[I was] surprised and pretty pumped," Lesco said in a message.

Jeremy Crowe, the director of hockey analytics for OHL franchise the Mississauga Steelheads, found out he was owed just under $200 from two uncashed cheques.

"It's like finding some money in the couch cushions, except on a grander scale," Crowe said in a message.

The user behind the @3rdPeriodSuits account told CBC News in a message that it's "remarkable to see the impact one tweet can have." He declined to provide his name.

"People were comparing me to Oprah or Robin Hood, which is ridiculous considering all I did was help them find their own money," he said in a message.

Biram told CBC News that CRA payments can remain uncashed for a variety of reasons, like someone misplacing a cheque or a change of address. 

Government cheques never expire, he said, so the CRA can't void the original cheque and reissue a new one unless requested.

So how can I see if I'm owed money?

Finding the uncashed cheque section is relatively easy on the CRA's website.

Once you've logged in, it's located at the bottom of the "related services section" on the right side.

CBC News

Once there, the website displays any cheques you haven't cashed, with the amounts displayed next to them.

To claim the cash, you can download a pre-populated form, which then has to be signed by you, as the payee, and also by a witness.

Legal representatives can also sign for a payee, as long as they complete the authorized officer section of the form.

Then you scan and submit the form online or mail it in to the CRA.

The CRA says it can take up to 60 days to process the request. If you owe the agency money, it will take the amount out of its payment to you.

"If you have an amount owing with the CRA, part or all of the payment may be applied to your debt," the website reads. "Any remaining amount will be issued to you as a new payment."

adam.carter@cbc.ca