DEAR BRUCE >> Last year, I received a notice stating that I owned unclaimed property that was in the possession of the state of Pennsylvania. After calling, I discovered that the property was an uncashed check for $18,000. I submitted a claim and waited the three months required before following up.

The person I talked to told me I could not claim the property without submitting my tax returns for the relevant period (2008). The company I owned was incorporated in the state of Florida so there would not be taxes, and I did not mention it in my tax return since the company encountered a loss.

My question is, doesn't the state have to remit the funds that are in my name? They solicited my name, company particulars, etc., and never mentioned giving up tax information until after the fact.

— M.C.

DEAR M.C. >> I understand that you were surprised that the state wanted tax information, but the reality is there is little you can do to force the issue. Why bother? You didn't submit because there was no tax advantage. Frankly, for the $18,000, I would send the tax information.

DEAR BRUCE >> My daughter requires medical equipment each night while she sleeps, and the electric company, with proper medical documentation, offers our household a lower electric rate. We feel the cellphone company should also offer a lower medical rate as we have to check on our daughter, check on medical appointments and prescription medication multiple times a day. The wireless providers tell us they have no such plans and are not required by the government to offer families with medical caregiving responsibilities lower phone rates. Is this true?


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— Reader

DEAR READER >> The fact that one utility offers a lower rate for the disabled does not mean there is such a requirement across the board. As far as the cellphone is concerned, you can get service that allows you unlimited calls all over the country for a very low rate. So I don't believe even if the company gave you a few percentage points off, it would make much difference in terms of your budget.

It's not that I don't sympathize with your responsibilities, because I truly do. But the reality is there is no reason other utilities should follow along just because one utility offers a discount.

Send questions to bruce@brucewilliams.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.