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10/14/20 8:17 AM

New Brunswick, Canada Publishes Proposed Rules on Unclaimed Property Act

New Brunswick will soon join Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec as Canadian provinces with active unclaimed property laws on their books.   New Brunswick recently published proposed rules in connection with their Unclaimed Property Act, which received Royal Assent on March 17, 2020 (Bill 22).  Per the Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB), the Act will be proclaimed and become effective with the adoption of the rules. 

The proposed rules were approved for publication on September 22, 2020. Businesses and other stakeholders are invited to provide feedback by November 23, 2020. The Act, proposed rules, and the invitation to comment are available at: https://fcnb.ca/en/unclaimed-property.  

The following is a summary of the Act and proposed rules.

Exemptions from the Definition of “Property”

  • Gift cards;
  • Property acquired from participating in a loyalty program;
  • Property in a safe deposit box held by a provincially regulated credit union ,trust company, or federal financial institution;
  • Property owed under an accident or sickness in-force insurance policy; and
  • Property with a fair market value of less than $1.00.
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Topics: Compliance, U.P. Law

12/18/19 8:29 AM

AT&T Sues Delaware Stating Unclaimed Property Audit Is Unconstitutional

On December 6, 2019, AT&T sued the state of Delaware alleging that Delaware’s Department of Finance is violating several clauses of the U.S. Constitution as part of an unclaimed property audit. 

The audit commenced in 2012 and was assigned to Kelmar Associates LLC.  In 2017, Delaware made significant changes to its unclaimed property statute, including the creation of an expedited audit process for existing audits.  AT&T entered the expedited audit process, hoping to finish the audit within the program’s two-year window.

However, just short of the two-year mark, Delaware terminated AT&T's participation in the expedited audit and issued a subpoena to request documents due last week.

In its suit, (AT&T Capital Services Inc. et al v. Richard Geisenberger et al, case number 1:19-cv-02238, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware), AT&T claimed that Delaware has contravened the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

According to AT&T, the state has demanded AT&T provide records related to “approximately 60 million transactions reflecting almost $100 billion of spend”, and claims the overall audit process violates its rights against unreasonable searches and seizures as well as its due process rights.

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Topics: Delaware, Audit, Voluntary Disclosure Agreements, U.P. Law

8/30/19 7:56 AM

Cryptocurrency & Digital Assets: Unclaimed Property Challenges and Implications

Over the last several years the use of block-chain technologies and their associated cryptocurrencies have grown tremendously. As with many new areas of commerce, growth is usually followed by an onslaught of challenges brought on as governments and regulatory agencies try to decide how to adapt to or fit this new square peg into the round hole of already established laws and regulations.

In the world of unclaimed property, cryptocurrency is just now being recognized in various new statutes and proposed legislation.  Many states, including IL, KY, NV, TN and UT, have adopted some form of the 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, which includes “virtual currency” in the legislative definition of “property”.  In addition, NY has recently introduced legislation calling for unclaimed cryptocurrency to be escheated to the state upon abandonment.

Whether you are a company that has emerged as a part of the support system to the cryptocurrency world (e.g., coin exchanges) or simply a company that has begun to accept Bitcoin or other similar cryptocurrencies as payment, it will be important that you are prepared for these challenges and are proactively addressing potential issues that can emerge. One often overlooked area for consideration, is the impact of the various states’ unclaimed property laws and regulations.

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Topics: Compliance, Reporting, Best Practices, U.P. Law

4/30/19 9:43 AM

Colorado Adopts The Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act of 2016 (RUUPA)

On April 16, 2019 Colorado joined the growing group of states that has adopted RUUPA, when the governor signed S.B. 19-088, the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (“Act”) into law.  The Act is effective July 1, 2020 and while it contains many of RUUPA’s provisions it also includes certain provisions that are not contained in RUUPA. 

The legislation makes many changes to the existing statute, the highlights of which include repealing the existing reporting deduction, stipulating record retention requirements, allowing use of estimation methods for the failure to retain records, imposing interest and penalties for failure to act in a timely manner and providing a transitional provision.

Reporting deduction eliminated

Colorado’s current unclaimed property statute provides that “A holder may voluntarily, prior to payment or delivery of said abandoned property, deduct and retain [2%] of the value of the property or [$25] whichever is more per item…”. The Act does not include a similar provision.

Retention of records

The Act provides that “a holder required to file a[n unclaimed property] report … shall retain records for ten years after the later of the date the report was filed or the last date a timely report was due to be filed, unless a shorter period is provided by rule of the administrator”.

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Topics: Compliance, Reporting, U.P. Law

9/25/18 8:32 AM

Retailer Found Guilty In Gift Card Case

On September 21, 2018, a Delaware jury found Overstock.com guilty of failing to report and remit nearly $3M in unredeemed gift card balances that should have been reported to the State of Delaware as unclaimed property.
The verdict is the latest in a series of on-going cases that has already resulted in the payment to Delaware of over $25 million in unpaid gift cards and penalties from other retail card issuers who settled before trial.

Under Delaware law, gift card issuers are required to turn over unredeemed gift card balances to the state after a period of 5 years.  However, this and other lawsuits has exposed a common practice in the gift card industry, where significant numbers of cards go unredeemed and issuers keep these balances.

In the Overstock case (The State of Delaware ex. rel. William Sean French v. Overstock.com, Inc. [Superior Court of Delaware C.A. No. N13C-06-289 PRW CCLD]), the defendant declared that it had transferred unredeemed gift card balances to an Ohio-based business, CardFact Ltd (now known as Card Compliant).  As Ohio does not require the escheatment of unused gift card balances, this transfer allowed CardFact and Overstock to keep these balances.

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Topics: Delaware, gift cards, U.P. Law

9/6/18 9:28 AM

Illinois Unclaimed Property - The Saga Continues

In what seems like the never-ending story concerning Illinois and its unclaimed property statute, the latest twist occurred last week when Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill (Senate Bill 2921) that barely touched on unclaimed property.  In his veto letter, Rauner indicated that he would pass SB 2921 if the legislature would add certain language to it amending 2017’s Senate Bill 9; specifically, Section 15, The Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act.

If you have followed Illinois’ unclaimed property legislation over the last year, you will know that the state has made significant changes to its unclaimed property laws by adopting a version of the 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (‘RUUPA’), see our related blog Illinois’ New Unclaimed Property Act – Impact on Business to Business Transactions.

The two key parties involved in the disagreement, Illinois State Treasurer, Michael Frerichs, and Governor Rauner have been at odds since SB9 was introduced and eventually passed. (Governor Rauner made an attempt to veto SB9 prior to it becoming law, but his veto was ultimately overruled by a three-fifths majority vote in the Illinois Senate). In what appears to be a continued effort to reform the adopted RUUPA, Governor Rauner states in his SB 2921 veto letter, that the RUUPA is ‘deeply flawed’. Rauner goes on to say;

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Topics: Compliance, Reporting, U.P. Law

6/5/18 8:35 AM

Legalization Of Sports Betting Impact On Unclaimed Property

On May 14th, the Supreme Court legalized sports betting, overturning a 1992 federal law which barred most states from permitting sports gambling. As a consequence of the decision, each state will be allowed to introduce and pass legislation for sports betting within its jurisdiction. Almost twenty states, as shown in the map below, have already enacted legislation or introduced bills to legalize sports wagering [1].

Note - Oregon, Delaware and Rhode Island appear to be readying for sports betting through their lotteries [1]. 

Considering the success of online companies who specialize in fantasy sports contests, we anticipate the legalization of sports betting to only spur the industry as a whole, while also generating a new source of revenue for states.

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Topics: Risk, Delaware, Audit, Best Practices, U.P. Law

3/26/18 4:25 PM

Unclaimed Property Update: California May Finally Get a Voluntary Disclosure Program

On March 19, 2018, the California Assembly introduced a bill, AB 2773, that proposed the creation of a voluntary disclosure program through the introduction of a new section, 1577.6, into California’s Code of Civil Procedures. 

 Under existing law, property held by a person that belongs to another and that is unclaimed for more than specified periods escheats to the state. Existing law requires persons holding unclaimed property to report and deliver it to the Controller within a prescribed time-period, and imposes interest payments, at a 12% statutory rate, and penalties, for a failure to do so.

AB 2773 would require the Controller to create a program for the voluntary disclosure of unclaimed property consistent with specified requirements. The bill would require the Controller to waive interest and penalty charges for holders who are accepted into the program, complete the voluntary disclosures in good faith, and act consistent with program requirements. The program would be open to all holders who aren’t currently under audit, whether they have previously filed or not, and the look-back period would cover 10 prior report years.

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Topics: California, Reporting, Voluntary Disclosure Agreements, U.P. Law

2/20/18 8:30 AM

Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act - Adoption Continues in 2018

In late 2016, the Uniform Law Commission (“ULC”), with the input from state unclaimed property administrators, holders, and holder advocates, completed an update to the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, entitled the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (“RUUPA”). Since the release of the RUUPA, four states, Delaware, Illinois, Tennessee, and Utah have adopted some form of the act. The acts adopted by Delaware and Illinois made significant changes to prior legislation and MarketSphere has covered those in previous blogs, Delaware Governor Signs Legislation to Overhaul their Unclaimed Property Laws and Illinois’ New Unclaimed Property Act – Impact on Business to Business Transactions. 

In 2017, Nebraska, Maine, Minnesota and Vermont have proposed bills to adopt RUUPA. And, kicking off  2018, the District of Columbia and state of Washington have proposed legislation to adopt the 2016 RUUPA. 

The recently proposed bills for both the District of Columbia and Washington include changes to definitions, including additions of property types, changes to what constitutes contact with an owner, and various other updates consistent with the 2016 RUUPA. 

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Topics: ULC, Reporting, U.P. Law

1/17/18 8:53 AM

Illinois’ New Unclaimed Property Act – Impact on Business to Business Transactions

illinois.jpgEffective January 1, 2018, Illinois’ new Unclaimed Property Act, entitled Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (IL RUUPA), became law.  The IL RUUPA is an implementation of the Uniform Law Commission’s 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (ULC RUUPA).   

The IL RUUPA includes almost all aspects of the ULC RUUPA, including the following:

  • record retention requirements (10 years after the later of the date the report was filed or the last date a timely report was due to be filed)
  • electronic due diligence
  • a reduction in general dormancy periods from 5 to 3 years
  • the exclusion from reporting of loyalty cards and game-related digital content 

However, the most significant aspect of the IL RUUPA affects business to business (B2B) transactions in two important ways.

Firstly, the IL RUUPA no longer exempts B2B transactions.

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Topics: Compliance, Reporting, Best Practices, U.P. Law