Claiming the Unclaimed: Bring Your Right Arm!

Have you ever gone to one of those websites that tell you whether there is any unclaimed property out there that belongs to you (e.g., www.unclaimed.org)? If you have, you might have been pleasantly surprised to learn that a security deposit, bond, uncashed check, or even insurance proceeds had been turned over to a state "on your behalf." Sure would be nice to have that extra $50-$200 - that would buy a lot of Subway sandwiches (if you are Richard Johnson) or a few Lagunitas (if you are Matt Poag). Well ... good luck! 

I've talked to several people who have been through that process with the Office of the Treasury in Tennessee recently, and it sounds like it is extremely difficult to get your money. (Gimmee my money!) Can you say bureaucracy. You better be able to meet the documentation requirements to "prove" that the money belongs to you. Sounds simple, but you might be surprised, and if you are trying to claim assets on behalf of an estate, take my advice ... give up! The point is there is only so much effort that should be required of an owner to get their MONEY. 

Why this is important right now is that during the last legislative session, Tennessee was one of the first states to adopt the Revised Model Unclaimed Property Law. In that law, there was an authorization for regulations, and the last time that Tennessee updated its unclaimed property regulations was 2011. Thus, the time is ripe to raise questions about the implementation of Tennessee's new unclaimed property laws. There are two sides to this issue: (1) businesses that remit unclaimed property to Tennessee and (2) the customer whose property (cash) is being turned over to the state. The devil will likely be in the detail on these regulations and the implementation of the reporting and claiming of unclaimed property will depend significantly on this administrative process.

Because Tennessee is one of the early states to walk through this process, it will be something for both Tennesseans and out-of-state companies to watch closely. The development of the model law was a high-profile topic in the state tax world, so the development of the regulations should also be significant. We will monitor those hearings closely and provide updates as appropriate.

I.E. We’ll let you know if you get to keep your right arm…