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Friday, October 25, 2019

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, OCTOBER 25, 2019

IS UNCLAIMED PROPERTY YOUR TREAT FOR HALLOWEEN?

When I saw the category of "Other Interest, Fees & Sales" on the September State Revenue Report, I thought of a major component-"Unclaimed Property." Every year the state sets aside millions of dollars that cannot be delivered by businesses, governments and other entities and holds it in a trust as "Unclaimed Property."

And it is easy to find out if you have funds being held in Unclaimed Property.

GENERALLY UNEXPECTED TREATS

The Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) has a free, government website that allows individuals to search and claim their property that has been lost and then remitted to the state. With very minimal required documentation, you can claim it without any company fees or cost to you. Unclaimed property includes, but is not limited to: wages, savings accounts, customer refunds, accounts payable, insurance payments, shares of stock, escrow funds, royalties and contents from safe deposit boxes. Most property is reported to the program after five years of inactivity.

NO TRICKS INVOLVED FOR UNCLAIMED PROPERTY

Tucked into September's state revenues was an interesting increase in a surprising category. The "Other Interest, Fees & Sales", which rarely gets noticed for its odd and ends, was up $28.5 million dollars, in September 2019 over September 2018. It jumps out as particularly strange since the month was only up $15.7 million overall. So what is this category that contributed to the small increase in monthly revenues?

The Note 2 disclosure on the revenue release carries some explanation. "Other Interest, Fees & Sales" include payments that have been deposited in the bank, but for which returns may not have been processed. These undistributed tax payments are then re-classified (once the return is processed) to the appropriate revenue tax account. "Other" also includes "Unclaimed Property" collections.

So who has unclaimed property you may ask? Turns out it may be you!

SEARCHING AND CLAIMING UNCLAIMED PROPERTY IN GEORGIA

According to the Department of Revenue, property becomes abandoned when an entity has held the property for an apparent owner and has not had any contact with the owner for a specific period of time as set by statute. All private companies (including banks and insurance companies) as well as all Governmental Agencies have a duty to report abandoned property. Once the property is reported to the Unclaimed Property Program, it becomes "unclaimed property".

To search and claim your property or funds that may have been categorized as unclaimed property, it is not necessary for you to contract with asset recovery services or any other business or company asking to assist you. Instead, you make a simple search and then follow directions on the Georgia Department of Revenue website and that is all you need.

A link is on the main https://dor.georgia.gov/ website under "Online Services" with Search capacity located at https://gaclaims.unclaimedproperty.com/en/Property/SearchIndex.

SEARCHING AND CLAIMING YOUR TREATS

If you find that you believe you have unclaimed property you add them to your cart and then follow the prompts to submit the required documentation to the Department of Revenue to claim the item(s). If you have moved, you can also search for unclaimed property of yours in other states where you've lived. Each state has a free government-run website that, free of charge, allows you to search and supply documentation to claim your property. The amounts may be large or small, but sure to bring a smile in any amount.

PERSONAL NOTE

I found an item in my name that was at least 10 years old. So, this is worth the effort to check.

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