The S.C. Uniform Unclaimed Property Act requires all holders of unclaimed property, including government entities, to review their records each year and make an effort to return unclaimed funds to the rightful owner. If an owner cannot be located, those funds must be sent to the State Treasurer's Office until the owner can be found.
"As a local government, you play a vital role in helping us collect unclaimed property that may have been generated as part of your annual operations as well as communicating with your constituents on how they can retrieve unclaimed property we may be holding for them," said S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis.
Unclaimed property may exist in several departments within a government entity, including:
- Water and sewer – deposits left behind when a customer ends service;
- Courts – overpaid bail bonds or undelivered child support payments;
- Jails – leftover funds in a former inmate's account;
- Parks and Recreation – deposits for facility rentals; and
- Accounts Payable – uncashed payroll checks, outstanding accounts payables and other credit balances.
What is unclaimed property?
Unclaimed property includes, but is not limited to, wages, insurance proceeds, customer deposits, outstanding checks and credit balances that have remained unclaimed by the rightful owner for a period of time. The dormancy periods vary by property type.
For example, wages and utility deposits are reportable one year after the original issue date, while most other outstanding checks are reportable five years after the original issue date. If a city misses a reporting deadline or identifies past-due property, it may request a voluntary disclosure agreement, which would allow reporting past-due property without incurring interest and penalties.
When should a city start reviewing our records for unclaimed property?
The S.C. Uniform Unclaimed Property Act requires cities and towns to file an annual report and remit unclaimed funds to the State Treasurer's Office Unclaimed Property Program by November 1 of each year. The law requires all holders to review their records each year to determine whether they have any unclaimed property, regardless of the amount, by June 30.
Does a city have to look for the owner?
Yes. If any unclaimed property — valued at $50 or more — is discovered, the city must perform due diligence to locate the owner of the property. The city must send a written notice to the owner notifying him of the unclaimed property no more than 120 days before filing its report to the State Treasurer's Office. The notice should state that the funds will be remitted to the state if a response is not received.
What if a city tried to find the owner in the past but were unsuccessful?
If the city has already tried to contact the owner but found the address on file was no longer valid, a due diligence notice isn't needed.
If the city does not hear back from the owner in response to the due diligence notice, or if the owners of the property can't be located, the property must be remitted to the State Treasurer's Office along with a report that includes the names and last-known addresses of the owners. All property that is unclaimed must be reported and remitted, regardless of the amount.
What is the deadline to file the report?
The city must file its unclaimed property reports and remit the funds each year before November 1. Payment can be made by check, Automated Clearing House or bank wire. The program's staff grants extensions on a limited basis. A city must request an extension before October 1 with an explanation for the extension request.
Does a city have to submit a report every year, even if it does not identify any unclaimed property?
Yes. Beginning this year, even if no reportable property is identified, holders must notify the state by submitting a negative report via the State Treasurer's website. On the website, enter the contact information for the city or town, and select the option to submit a negative report. No additional action is required.
Can a city file its report on paper?
No. The reports must be submitted via the state's secure website in the format prescribed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. South Carolina no longer accepts unclaimed property reports on CDs or paper.
What if a city failed to comply with the reporting requirement?
The State Treasurer's Office is responsible for ensuring compliance with the law. Entities that have never reported or have gaps in their reporting histories will be given priority when assigning compliance examinations. Interest and penalties may be assessed on unclaimed property not remitted as required by state law.
For more information, contact the Unclaimed Property staff at the State Treasurer's Office at 803.737.4771 or email@example.com.