CA Considering Amnesty to Address Unclaimed Property Noncompliance

| 10/17/2019
CA Considering Amnesty to Address Unclaimed Property Noncompliance
On Sept. 27, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 109 (SB 109), which amends certain aspects of the 2019 state budget. In addition, SB 109 includes a provision requiring the comptroller to provide the legislature with options for unclaimed property amnesty. The provision reads:

On or before March 1, 2020, the Controller shall provide the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the chairpersons of the fiscal committees in each house of the Legislature with a report on plans to provide for a one-time unclaimed property amnesty, or other options to increase compliance with unclaimed property law in lieu of an amnesty program, and options for increasing the return of unclaimed property to rightful owners.

California is one of the few states that does not have an unclaimed property amnesty or voluntary compliance program that allows holders to report in good faith past-due property under favorable terms. California regularly assesses interest at 12% per year on past-due reported property and limits abatement to extreme circumstances. As a result, holders in California are disinclined to report past-due property to the state, which ultimately penalizes owners of lost property.

While the language of SB 109 presents California with an opportunity to rebrand itself as a more holder-friendly jurisdiction, the clause “or other options to increase compliance with unclaimed property law” could take the form of increased audit activity or other punitive initiatives to address unclaimed property law noncompliance. Holders and owners of presumed abandoned property have reason to hope that the state will proceed in a direction that will benefit both of them.

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Chris J. Hopkins
Partner, Unclaimed Property Services Leader
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Zach Robbins