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10/8/19 8:23 AM

Unclaimed Property Audit - Are You At Risk?

This blog was originally created at the request of the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) organization and posted to their website in August 2019 in a series dedicated to the education of its’ members and attendees of the 2019 AFP Annual Conference in Boston, Oct, 20-23.

The likelihood of an unclaimed property audit has increased in recent years due to several factors, including the proliferation of third-party auditors, realization by states that significant amounts are involved, and the escalation of unclaimed property litigation. Escheat compliance is no longer optional and being audited is not a matter of if, but when.

Situations and events that may bring an auditor to your door include:

  • Failure to file or filing late
  • Filing negative reports year after year
  • Filing incomplete reports or reports that don’t match remittance
  • Not filing in the state’s required format
  • Not reporting property types that are standard for your industry
  • Reporting much less than similar organizations
  • Filing to the incorrect state
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Claiming property without being compliant
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Topics: Compliance, Reporting, Audit, Best Practices

10/1/19 8:23 AM

Notices Continue for Delaware Unclaimed Property Voluntary Disclosure Agreement Program

Delaware continues to focus on unclaimed property compliance, with its’ Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (VDA) program at the forefront of this push.  Since the latter part of 2018, Delaware’s Secretary of State has been consistently mailing VDA invitations and continues this practice on an on-going basis. 

Based on correspondence that MarketSphere received on September 24, 2019 from the office of Delaware’s Secretary of State, the latest round of VDA invitations have recently been mailed to a number of Delaware incorporated companies.  Targeted companies now include middle market companies with annual revenues of $50M and above. Click here to see a sample correspondence from September 2019.   

The correspondence notes: 

Pursuant to 12 Del. C. §1173(b), the Delaware Secretary of State (SOS) recently sent out letters inviting companies to enter the Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (VDA) Program. Any company that receives a letter is encouraged to enroll in the SOS VDA Program to facilitate compliance with Delaware’s Abandoned or Unclaimed Property Law.

Invitees have 60 days from the date of the invitation to enroll in the SOS VDA Program by completing, executing and submitting Form VDA-1 Disclosure and Notice of Intent to Voluntarily Comply to the Secretary of State.  If an invitee does not enroll in the SOS VDA Program within 60 days of the invitation mailing, the company will be referred to the State Escheator for examination.

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Topics: Delaware, Compliance, Audit, Voluntary Disclosure Agreements

9/19/19 8:27 AM

Electronic Payments and Unclaimed Property

In today’s business world, companies are using more and more electronic payments to pay what they owe instead of using paper checks.  The widespread use of direct deposits, wires and ACH’s came about because they are quicker, easier, and have a much lower chance of becoming an unresolved liability (than an uncashed check), because the amounts are being deposited directly into accounts provided by the payees.

Using electronic payments lessens the possibility for the creation of unclaimed property as these payments types rarely fail.  However, when they do fail, it is important that the payor identify and research the reason for the failure and correct any errors to ensure the obligation is paid and does not go unresolved.

As electronic payments rarely fail, they are not high on the list of potential unclaimed property types that companies might focus on.  Unfortunately, unclaimed property auditors are beginning to highlight these payment types focusing on rejections and bounce backs to see how the related obligations are satisfied.

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Topics: Compliance, Audit, Best Practices

7/25/19 9:09 AM

Delaware Correspondence - Am I Under Audit or Not?

Pursuant to 12 Del. C. § 1172(a), the State of Delaware cannot initiate a new abandoned or unclaimed property examination unless the company has first been notified in writing by the Secretary of State (SOS) that it may enter into the DE VDA program.  The VDA program allows a company to come into compliance by utilizing the DE VDA guidelines to conduct a self-audit of their books and records.

Since the latter part of 2018, Delaware’s SOS has been consistently mailing VDA invitations, and our information is that Delaware will continue this practice on an on-going basis. The SOS correspondence notes that recipient companies must respond to these notices within 60 days or they will be referred to the Delaware Department of Finance (DOF), which would then have the option to commence an unclaimed property audit.  

What Should A Company Do If It Receives Correspondence From Delaware?

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Topics: Delaware, Audit, Voluntary Disclosure Agreements

5/22/19 8:44 AM

Notices Continue for Delaware Unclaimed Property Voluntary Disclosure Agreement Program

Delaware continues to focus on unclaimed property compliance, with its’ Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (VDA) program at the forefront of this push.  Since the latter part of 2018, Delaware’s Secretary of State has been consistently mailing VDA invitations, and our information is that Delaware will continue this practice on an on-going basis. 

Based on correspondence that MarketSphere has received on May 20, 2019 from the office of Delaware’s Secretary of State, the latest round of VDA invitations will be mailed to a number of Delaware incorporated companies in the very near future.    

The correspondence notes: 

Pursuant to 12 Del. C. §1173(b), the Delaware Secretary of State (SOS) soon will distribute letters inviting companies to enter the Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (VDA) Program. Any company that receives a letter is encouraged to enroll in the SOS VDA Program to facilitate compliance with Delaware’s Abandoned or Unclaimed Property Law.

Invitees have 60 days from the date of the invitation to enroll in the SOS VDA Program by completing, executing and submitting Form VDA-1 Disclosure and Notice of Intent to Voluntarily Comply to the Secretary of State.  If an invitee does not enroll in the SOS VDA Program within 60 days of the invitation mailing, the company will be referred to the State Escheator for examination.

[More]

Topics: Delaware, Compliance, Audit

5/14/19 9:29 AM

Unclaimed Property Fall Reporting Checklist

Even though it seems like a long way away, Fall unclaimed property reports will be due before you know it.  With Fall states reports generally having deadlines of November 1, now is the time to create a checklist to ensure you meet the deadlines.  The following, while not in-depth, contains the most important tasks for you to perform.

1. Understand State Requirements

Before starting the process, it is imperative that holders understand existing state statutes and regulations, and determine whether there have been any changes from the previous year that may impact the current year’s filings.  If you use software, you should ensure that you are using the most current update provided by the software vendor. Unclaimed property law is a dynamic environment. Over the last few years, some states have made minor changes to their unclaimed property laws and administrative rules while other states have significantly overhauled their unclaimed property laws.  With all of these changes and more changes likely on the horizon, it is more vital than ever to keep current with the statutory environment.

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Topics: Compliance, Due Diligence, Reporting, Audit, Recordkeeping, Best Practices

4/26/19 7:24 AM

Update: Delaware Unclaimed Property Voluntary Disclosure Agreement Program

Delaware continues to focus on unclaimed property compliance, with its’ Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (VDA) program at the forefront of this push.  Since the latter part of 2018, Delaware’s Secretary of State has been consistently mailing VDA invitations, and our information is that Delaware intends to continue this practice on an on-going basis.

The latest round of VDA invitations were mailed to a significant number of Delaware incorporated companies on February 15, 2019. Recipient companies had to respond to these notices within 60 days (i.e., by April 15), or they would be referred to the Delaware Department of Finance, which would then have the option to commence an unclaimed property audit.

As the deadline has now passed, notified companies that failed to respond can no longer enter the VDA program. Based on recent history, we would now expect all companies that did not enter the VDA program to receive an audit notice in the very near future.

[More]

Topics: Delaware, Audit, Voluntary Disclosure Agreements

1/31/19 10:02 AM

Delaware Sends Out New Round of Unclaimed Property Audit Notices

MarketSphere Unclaimed Property Specialists has learned that the State of Delaware began sending out a significant number of unclaimed property audit notices in early January 2019.

Pursuant to 12 Del. C. § 1172(a), the State of Delaware cannot initiate a new abandoned or unclaimed property examination unless the company has first been notified in writing by the Secretary of State that it may enter the Delaware VDA program. 

As we advised in our December blog entitled “Delaware Unclaimed Property Notice Letter”, Delaware had been busy filling companies’ mailboxes with Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (“VDA”) program invitations. Companies had 60 days to respond to the invitation or be referred to the Department of Finance for audit.  Following up on these invitations, the State has now begun mailing unclaimed property audit notices to companies that did not respond timely to these invitations. 

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Topics: Delaware, Reporting, Audit, Voluntary Disclosure Agreements

1/8/19 8:29 AM

A New Delaware Unclaimed Property Lawsuit

In December 2018, Univar, Inc. filed an action in U.S. District Court asking the Court to stop an existing unclaimed property audit being conducted by Kelmar Associates, LLC.  In their complaint, Univar seeks a declaratory judgement that the audit violates several matters, including Delaware’s Escheat law, federal common law and certain clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

 In December 2015, Delaware issued an audit notice to Univar, indicating that the audit would be conducted by Kelmar as the state’s agent. Univar disputed the legitimacy of the audit including calling into question Kelmar’s audit protocols. On October 30, 2018, Delaware issued a subpoena to Univar requiring Univar respond to Kelmar’s document requests, which Univar had not responded to. In response to the subpoena, Univar filed this complaint to stop the audit. Among other matters, the complaint alleges:

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Topics: Delaware, Audit

7/12/18 8:12 AM

Unclaimed Property Exposure; What Is Your Risk?

Every company’s situation is different, but nearly every organization must identify potential unclaimed property risks and liabilities to avoid damage to finances, resources and reputations. It can be difficult to conduct an assessment of your processes after every reporting cycle. However, if you’re not sure when the last review was performed, or if you know it’s been more than a year or two, holders should carve out time to complete an exposure assessment.

Exposure Risks

Having an inefficient process, neglecting to keep up with, or overlooking, changing legislation and personnel that are not experts with escheat responsibilities are just a few areas where a company can open themselves up to the risks of unclaimed property exposure which can lead to:

  • Lost opportunities to find and reunite owners with their property
  • Increased likelihood of audit
  • Increased penalties/interest when escheat requirements are not being followed
  • Excessive expenditures of time and money to resolve issues
  • Negative public assessments

To avoid these issues and effectively manage data and legislative requirements, organizations must establish and execute smart policies and processes. There are a number of universal action steps that holders can take to decrease their exposure and achieve an efficient process.

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Topics: Compliance, Reporting, Audit, Recordkeeping, Best Practices