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12/21/20 7:44 AM

Vermont Clarifies Which Unclaimed Property Law Applies to Spring 2021 Reports

Vermont recently provided clarification for holders reporting unclaimed property to the state in Spring 2021. Holders should follow the statute currently in effect (§1247 Chapter 14, V.S.A. Title 27), and should not apply the provisions of the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Law (House Bill 550, effective January 1, 2021), until the following reporting season.

The guidance provided by the Office of the State Treasurer states the following:

The new RUUPA guidelines will start for January 1, 2021 and next reporting year. That means the current statute applies to this reporting year and should be followed for all reports sent for the spring reporting season.

Reporting Unclaimed Property to Vermont

Per the state's current Unclaimed Property Reporting Manual, holder reports are due to the Treasurer's Office by May 1st of each year. If May 1st falls on a weekend or holiday, reports are due the next business day. As May 1, 2021 is a Saturday, reports for the year ended December 31, 2020 must be received by May 3, 2021.

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Topics: Reporting, Vermont

12/17/20 9:22 AM

It's a Matter of When, Not If, the States Take Custody of Unclaimed Cryptocurrency.

As the use of blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies continues to grow, and in the midst of regulators like the SEC and the IRS continued grappling with oversight and enforcement issues, the states are readying themselves to be able to take custody of unclaimed cryptocurrency in its native form. This new functionality, together with the growing popularity of cryptocurrency, merit further consideration, particularly noting the cryptocurrency market is projected to reach $1.5 billion by the end of 2025.

Virtual currency was first addressed in the 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (“RUUPA”), a model act promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission as a standard for states to follow when updating their laws. RUUPA defines virtual currency as a “digital representation of value used as a medium of exchange, unit of account, or store of value, which does not have legal tender status recognized by the United States.” Game-related digital content is excluded from this definition.

Several states that have enacted RUUPA-like laws, including Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont, similarly define or adopt the RUUPA definition of virtual currency as a property type that is eligible for escheat. However, neither RUUPA nor any of these states address virtual currency apart from providing a definition. Maine’s law only defines game-related digital content and excludes it from the definition of “property” and thus from escheatment. Even if the state does not specifically provide for virtual currency in its law, each state has a “catchall” provision that includes other miscellaneous intangible property, and the state could argue that this provision encompasses virtual currency.

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Topics: Reporting, Recordkeeping, Best Practices

12/9/20 8:37 AM

Sports Betting, Daily Fantasy Sports and Unclaimed Property

In today’s digital world, you no longer need to be physically present in a casino, at the poker table, or at the racetrack to place a bet.  In many states, you can now place those bets online or even play daily fantasy sports directly from your mobile device.  

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a federal law that had previously prohibited sports betting. Since then, half of the states have legalized or are in the process of legalizing sports betting.  According to the American Gaming Organization, sports betting revenue in 3Q 2020 totaled $352.3 million[1] .

Online gambling includes online casinos, online poker sites, daily fantasy sports (DFS), and sports betting.  Sports betting, in turn, includes online and mobile “sportsbooks.”  To place an online sports bet, you need an online account.  Most states that permit online sports betting allow you to do this on your mobile device, but in certain states, like Nevada, you need to create your account while physically at the casino (and often to make a deposit or withdrawal as well).

As of November 10, 2020, retail and/or online sports betting is permitted in: AR, CO, DC, DE, IA, IL, IN, MI, MS, NV, NH, NM, NJ, NY, MT, OR, PA, RI, and WV.  Sports betting is legal, but not operational in the following states: LA, MD, NC, SD, VA, and WA.  Pending legislation exists in OR and MA.  Sports betting is prohibited in the following states: ID, ND, OK, SC, TX, UT, and WI[2].

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Topics: Compliance, Reporting, Best Practices

11/19/20 8:10 AM

Unclaimed Property Update: IRA Landscape Could Be Changing Again

H.R. 8696, known as “The Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2020” or “the SECURE Act 2.0”, introduced in the House of Representatives on October 27, 2020, is a bipartisan bill aimed at further protecting and enhancing retirement savings. There are two key aspects of this bill that if enacted, would change the way individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are treated:

1. The age for required minimum distributions (RMDs) from employer-sponsored defined contribution plans and traditional IRAs would increase to age 75.  This provision would be effective for individuals who would turn age 72 after December 31, 2020.

The impact on IRAs would be similar to the impact under the SECURE ACT of 2019 (SECURE ACT) adding another level of analysis required to calculate the RMD date and the trigger date for escheatment. Under the SECURE ACT, we now consider whether the owner turned 70.5 after 12/31/2019. Under the SECURE Act 2.0, we would also have to consider whether an owner has turned 72 after 12/31/2020.

Additionally, certain states that have recently revised their unclaimed property statutes specifically reference “age 70.5” as a possible trigger date for escheatment of IRA accounts (except for Vermont which references “age 72”), which is not in line with the SECURE ACT.   The SECURE ACT 2.0 further underscores the present need for all states to ensure their retirement account provisions align with federal law. 

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Topics: Reporting, Best Practices

10/29/20 8:20 AM

IRS Issues Guidance For Payments Made to State Unclaimed Property Funds

On October 16, 2020, the IRS issued new guidance applicable to payments made to state unclaimed property funds.

 

IRS Rev. Rul. 2020-24

The IRS provides that a payment from a qualified retirement plan to a state’s unclaimed property fund constitutes a designated distribution which is subject to federal income tax withholding and reporting requirements

In the example provided by the IRS, the employer is a plan administrator of a qualified retirement plan that does not include designated Roth accounts, employer securities, nondeductible employee contributions or accident or health plan benefits. The taxpayer is an individual with an accrued benefit in the plan with a value of $900 who did not make a withholding election.  In 2020, the taxpayer’s accrued benefit was paid to the state’s unclaimed property fund. 

Under the ruling, because none of the statutory exceptions from the treatment as a designated distribution apply (wages, a payment to a nonresident alien or corporation or dividends on employer securities), the payment and the amount withheld are a designated distribution and subject to federal income tax withholding. Additionally, because the amount is over the $10 reporting threshold, the distribution must be reported on Form 1099-R, with the distribution amount in Box 1 and the federal income tax withheld in Box 4.

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Topics: Reporting, Best Practices

9/24/20 9:06 AM

The Role of Death and Dormancy for Unclaimed Property Holders

Organizations (holders) are not always made aware of the death of the people they do business with. While death plays an important role in the escheatment process, holders of banking and securities property types are not required to proactively search for and confirm death. Similarly, in the securities industry, SEC 17Ad-17 searches for lost shareowners are not required if the holder has received documentation that a shareowner is deceased

Death, however, is a factor in triggering escheatment. For example, death serves as the dormancy trigger for Roth IRA accounts in most states, as a possible trigger date for individual retirement accounts, and in states like Illinois and Maine, decreases the dormancy period for “other tax deferred” accounts.  In states that have adopted certain provisions of the 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (RUUPA) as they relate to retirement accounts and securities, holders are not required to confirm death unless and until they receive a notice or indication of death (with death to be confirmed within 90 days).

Often, a holder becomes aware of the death of an owner when the next of kin contacts the holder. In other cases, notice of death comes from an SEC 17Ad-17 search of an account that is RPO (Returned by Post Office). There are no statutory requirements that force holders of banking or securities property to proactively determine if owners are deceased. Auditors, however, have been taking a more aggressive approach and assert that holders must proactively bump their records against the death master file (“DMF”) database. If an account owner is found to be deceased and there has been no contact with a beneficiary, the account is considered lost, which triggers escheatment and the property becomes fair game for the auditor. The National Change of Address (NCOA) database is similarly utilized by auditors as an attempt to locate accounts with updated addresses. According to auditors, these updates serve as proof that the holder does not know the location of the account owner, which triggers escheatment for some property types, including securities.

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Topics: Compliance, Reporting, Audit, Best Practices

9/16/20 8:34 AM

A Proactive Approach To Improve Unclaimed Property Due Diligence

The 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (“RUUPA”) is a model act designed to assist states in updating their unclaimed property laws, which for the most part, are outdated, since they are based on either a 1981 or 1995 version of the act.   Certain provisions of RUUPA address modern technology and have been incorporated into the laws of states that have recently enacted RUUPA-like laws.

For example, RUUPA requires that holders reach out to owners of retirement, securities or custodial accounts that have consented to receive electronic communications from the holder via email no later than 2 years after the owner’s last indication of interest in the property. This pre-due diligence requirement must be followed up promptly with first class mail if the holder lacks an email address for the owner or believes an email to be invalid, if the email bounces back, or if the owner does not respond within 30 days.

RUUPA also requires that if an owner consented to electronic communications, the due diligence notice must be sent via first class mail and email. Both the pre-due diligence outreach and the electronic due diligence requirements have been adopted in Tennessee, Utah, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, and Colorado (email optional), Vermont (effective 1/1/2021), and Nevada. RUUPA-like bills have been introduced in the District of Columbia, Minnesota, Washington, and Wisconsin, and we expect additional states to also follow suit.

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Topics: Due Diligence, Reporting, Best Practices

9/2/20 10:35 AM

7 Steps For An Effective Unclaimed Property Compliance Program

Every business is required to report unclaimed property annually. If you are unsure if your company is reporting unclaimed property (“escheating”), start by asking your finance or accounting team members. A few examples of unclaimed property are unpaid or unreconciled liabilities such as payments to vendors, refunds or credits owed to customers, unpaid wages and/or commissions, unpaid insurance claims and lost/abandoned bank accounts or investment accounts.

Unclaimed property compliance is not an option; it is a requirement. The risks of non-compliance could result in fines and/or penalties being imposed. Additionally, a company could be subjected to an exhaustive escheat audit where the disruptions to time, resources and greater amounts of monies owed are at risk.

Organizations should conduct regular reviews to ensure their compliance. The following, while not exhaustive, contains the most important tasks for you to perform and consider establishing policy and procedures to create an efficient unclaimed property program.

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

8/13/20 2:00 PM

August 2020 Update: Delaware Requests Unclaimed Property Verified Reports

The Delaware Department of Finance has begun mailing letters entitled “Notice Requesting Verified Report for the Report Year 2019” to companies that have previously submitted unclaimed property reports to the state of Delaware but did not submit a report on March 1, 2020.

The letter requests that the company submit the following documentation to the Department of Finance, within 30 days of the date of the notice:

  • A completed Form of Verified Report for Report Year 2019, as well as a list of legal entities included in the report; and
  • A copy of the company’s unclaimed property policies and procedures.

If a company did not have unclaimed property to report in the 2019 Report Year, the state nevertheless requests that the company confirm this information by returning the a Verified Report form even though under Delaware law, negative (or “zero”) reports are not required (22 DE Reg. 851, § 2.6.2).

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Topics: Delaware, Compliance, Reporting

7/8/20 8:17 AM

Unclaimed Property Retirement Account Dormancy in 2020

The passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) has created   additional challenges for those managing their organizations’ unclaimed property compliance program when determining dormancy on potentially reportable retirement accounts.

 

The 800-plus page CARES Act includes a provision for Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) relief for retirees and beneficiaries in 2020. (See Section 2203. Temporary Waiver of Required Minimum Distribution Rules For Certain Retirement Plans and Accounts). This could translate to a one- year delay of dormancy for many account holders who would have been required to take their first RMD in 2020. The CARES Act also impacts beneficiaries of deceased account holders whose accounts were being drawn down under the “5 year rule,” effectively delaying dormancy another year due to the waiver of RMD requirements in 2020.

Coupled with the upward revision in RMD age, from 70.5 to 72, by the 2019 Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act), the first few months of 2020 have seen quite a bit of movement for retirement accounts legislatively. The Act also has adjusted the RMD Death provision to a “10 year rule” for most non-spouse beneficiaries.

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Topics: Compliance, Reporting