California Lowers Aggregate Reporting Threshold
The unclaimed property laws of most states provide for “aggregate reporting” of all items under a specified dollar amount. For items under the threshold, the holder must still deliver the property to the state, but is not required to report the owners’ name and address information. The measure is generally considered to be an accommodation to holders – relieving them, for example, of the obligation to report dozens (or hundreds, or thousands) of lines of name and address information for “small balance” items from $0.01 to up to $50 or $100.
Of course, if the holder is not required to report name and address information to the state, the state will not have that owner identifying information for the purpose of reuniting owners with their property. For that reason, the states’ willingness to allow aggregate reporting has been criticized as inconsistent with the fundamental purpose of the unclaimed property laws – to have the state serve as custodian of an owner’s money.
Perhaps in response to those criticisms, California is taking steps to reduce the aggregate reporting threshold, and thus, reduce the number of items that are reported to the state without name and address information. Under the current California Unclaimed Property Law, items under $50 are permitted to be reported in the aggregate (i.e., without owner name and address information). Pursuant to Assembly Bill 212, which was signed into law last week, the aggregate reporting threshold was reduced to $25. While this will increase the reporting burden on holders to some extent, the expanded availability of owner name and address information will also presumably aid owners in finding and reclaiming their money from the state. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2014.