Frequently Asked Questions about Abandoned and Unclaimed Property
- What is Abandoned or Unclaimed Property?
- Who must report Abandoned or Unclaimed Property?
- Where do I file Abandoned or Unclaimed Property reports?
- How do I file state Abandoned or Unclaimed Property reports?
- When do I file Abandoned or Unclaimed Property reports?
- What is the Abandoned or Unclaimed Property reporting dollar threshold?
- What is my obligation to find owners of Abandoned or Unclaimed Property?
- How long do I have to keep my Abandoned or Unclaimed Property report after filing?
- What if an owner contacts me after I have remitted their Abandoned or Unclaimed Property to the state?
- What if I have never filed an Abandoned or Unclaimed Property report before?
What is Abandoned or Unclaimed Property?
Abandoned or Unclaimed Property is money or intangible property owed to an individual or business. Property is considered unclaimed after it is held for a period of time with no owner contact, and a good faith effort has been made to locate the owner. Most property consists of dormant accounts or uncashed checks. However, property also includes all assets held on behalf of a “lost” owner. Some common property types include:
- Wages and Commission checks
- Vendor checks
- Unclaimed refund checks
- Securities and dividends
- Insurance policies
- Mining royalties
- Bank accounts
- Customer credits
- Retirement accounts
- Employee benefits
- Cash rebates
- Money orders and traveler’s checks
Some states do not require reporting of some property types, like gift cards or merchandise return cards, so it is important to research the state’s statutes on the types of property required for reporting. State dormancy periods range from 3 – 5 years for most property types, and 1 year for salaries/wages.
Who must report Abandoned or Unclaimed Property?
All businesses, no matter the size, must report and remit all dormant unclaimed property. All companies are responsible for filing reports on behalf of their branches, divisions or other affiliated entities. These entities are known as “Holders”, and include:
- Banking and financial organizations, including state or federal chartered banks, trust companies, savings banks, private bankers, savings and loan associations, credit unions, and investment companies.
- Business associations wherever located, such as a corporation, joint stock company, business trust, partnership, cooperative or other association of two or more individuals for business purposes, both profit and non-profit.
- Utilities owned or operated for public use.
- Legal entities including state, county, and city governments, political subdivisions, public authorities, public corporations, estates, and trusts.
Where do I file Abandoned or Unclaimed Property reports?
Every state, U.S. territory, and some Canadian provinces have unclaimed property laws and annual reporting requirements. Holders must report and remit property to the state of the owner’s last known address. For example, if a company located in Colorado has a customer’s address of record in New Mexico, the property must be reported to the state of New Mexico. Nexis is not a considering factor in Unclaimed Property law.
How do I file state Abandoned or Unclaimed Property reports?
Most states require online or electronic reporting/remittance, and reporting forms may be downloaded from their websites. Many Holders contract with professional service firms, such as UPCR, that will manage all or some of the reporting/due diligence processes on their behalf.
When do I file Abandoned or Unclaimed Property reports?
Most states have a fall reporting schedule (October 31/November 1 reporting deadline) for corporations while many states have a May 1 deadline for life insurance companies. There are about 9 states that have a March through May, June and July for spring filing dates. Many states allow reporting extensions for “good cause”.
What is the Abandoned or Unclaimed Property reporting dollar threshold?
There is no minimum reporting dollar threshold in any states’ unclaimed property law. Some states allow insignificant amounts (generally $50 or less) to be reported in “aggregate” to simplify reporting. Some states require holders to file a “negative report” if they have nothing to report for a specific year.
What is my obligation to find owners of Abandoned or Unclaimed Property?
Every state requires holders to perform due diligence prior to reporting dormant property. Each state has schedules and specific requirements that holders must follow. Most states require a first-class letter to be sent to the last known address between 60 – 120 days prior to filing the report. Some states require notices to be published. UPCR can help with this complicated, time-consuming compliance task.
How long do I have to keep my Abandoned or Unclaimed Property report after filing?
Many states require holders to keep copies of their unclaimed property reports and the supporting documents for six to ten years after filing.
What if an owner contacts me after I have remitted their Abandoned or Unclaimed Property to the state?
Every state has a holder reimbursement procedure. UPCR can assist you with this, or you may contact the state directly.
What if I have never filed an Abandoned or Unclaimed Property report before?
If your company is a first-time filer and has never reported, many states will allow holders to report past due property without penalty. Some require formal Voluntary Disclosure (VDA) filings. UPCR has successfully assisted clients with many VDA filings to initiate compliance. If you discover you are not in compliance, please contact us for a free consultation.