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BATON ROUGE - Louisiana has recently joined nationwide effort underway in 39 states to collect billions of dollars in Unclaimed Property from holders and to reunite owners with money that rightfully belongs to them, according to Secretary of Revenue John Kennedy.
To encourage holders of abandoned property to report and turn these funds over to state Unclaimed Property programs, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) has adopted a 10-month voluntary compliance program. The program allows companies and other holders of unclaimed funds to come into compliance with the Unclaimed Property laws of all participating states without penalties or interest until October 31, 1999. The states will hold the funds in trust and try to find the rightful owners.
""We are happy to join this nationwide effort to collect and return Unclaimed Property to their rightful owners,"" says Secretary Kennedy, whose Department has aggressively returned more than $47 million of over $196 million of Unclaimed Property collected in Louisiana since 1972. ""The huge success of Louisiana''s Unclaimed Property program under the Foster Administration has meant more money returned to our economy, which is good for everybody.""
NAUPA estimates that banks, businesses, government agencies and other entities across the nation are holding more than $10 billion that does not belong to them. Approximately 26 million Americans are the rightful owners of this Unclaimed Property, which may include payroll checks, checking and savings accounts, royalties, utility deposits, interest, dividends, stock certificates, and life insurance proceeds.
""It is understandable that some holders of Unclaimed Property have not fully understood their responsibilities under the law,"" says Secretary Kennedy. ""The NAUPA voluntary compliance program enables us to work with holders to promote compliance with those laws, which in turn allows us to focus on returning property to the rightful owners.""
Under some state laws, holders of unclaimed property can be assessed a penalty of 5 percent a month, up to 25 percent of the value of all abandoned property that they fail to report. In most states, the abandonment period ranges from 5 to 7 years. While many holders have taken advantage of voluntary compliance programs sponsored by individual states, many large holders fear penalties from other states if they ""come clean"" in only one state. NAUPA''s nationwide voluntary compliance program is an attempt to alleviate the reluctance of holders to report their abandoned funds.
The states that are participating in the NAUPA program have agreed to waive penalties and interest on holders who come forward to voluntarily remit Unclaimed Property. This voluntary compliance program ends on October 31, 1999.
The states currently participating in the voluntary compliance program are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
This program is not available to delinquent holders who have already been identified and contacted by a state''s audit staff or third party audit firm. Holders can learn more about the voluntary compliance program by contacting Denise Ducharme at 207-287-6671, Scott Harper at 573-751-2082 or at www.unclaimed.org on the Internet.
To find out if you or somebody you know has Unclaimed Property waiting at the Louisiana Department of Revenue, contact the Unclaimed Property Section toll-free at 1-888-925-4127, or search for names at www.rev.state.la.us on the Department''s Internet website. Written inquiries can be sent to: Louisiana Department of Revenue, Unclaimed Property Section, P.O. Box 91010, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-9010.
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