By Dr. Maria Ladewig M.D.
A quick tax-day tip! Allow me to clarify the meaning of “found money.” Is this money already found money? Or, is it all-new money? And, if it’s found money, does one own it? Let’s explore the criteria for found money.
There are three categories of money:
Is it already found money. You brought it in. That is, it’s found money. You own it. No other question to answer at this point. Is it all-new money. You found the money. That is, it is all-new money. You don’t know what the person or persons used to find the money, or why they found it, or where they found it. They must have considered this money as new money. You don’t own it, and it cannot be taken from you. You cannot keep it, or give it away. It must be returned or given to someone else, and must be kept secure.
Here’s a little history lesson on finding money: For centuries, there was also called the “finding money” theme. For example, Simon of Cyrene brought bread (about 5lbs) to the Romans in A.D. 51, unearthing treasure. In the early days of the American colonies, George Washington gifted hundreds of thousands of dollars to the colonists after planting gold in his chest.
Some other notable examples of finding money:
The Stoics were the first to coin the term, but the words had been in use by psychologists for years, and were often used in the treatment of people with OCD and anxiety disorders who have been found money during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
When Scott Richards returned his wallet in 1971, he discovered a long leather-bound journal with hundreds of dollars inside.
In 1994, after searching for months, a Californian man returned to his father’s home in search of his son’s shoe that had been stolen. Realizing that the shoe was being held by an elderly neighbor, he returned the shoe, as well as the money that he believed had been taken from the wallet.
What does it mean if someone finds money in a public place, but doesn’t deposit it in a bank? With the advent of Bitcoin, there is an increasing demand for digital cash. But until the government rolls out rules, it’s okay to carry cash in public. To discover something new in a public place, follow the following guidelines:
First, take an inventory. Has a friend, friend’s son, or spouse found the money in the past? While it may seem intrusive to do so, your investigation is more likely to yield the information you need.
When making a cash discovery, inquire who owns the money found, who found it and when the person left the money. Visit a bank or ATM to get a receipt (or mobile order) for the amount you deposited, and request a copy from the bank.
This is an issue raised by Ask Amy over the years, and she has often agreed to answer questions about this question. Send your questions about money to [email protected]
This story originally appeared on Ask Amy> and is republished here with permission.