Gavel to Gavel: Failure to report costly

by McAfee & Taft
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The Journal Record - May 8, 2014

Employers have many reporting requirements, but there is one many overlook – the Unclaimed Property Act, Oklahoma Statute title 60, §§ 651 et seq. The statute requires that a person holding property, tangible or intangible, presumed abandoned and subject to custody as unclaimed property under the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act file a report with the Oklahoma state treasurer. A person includes businesses.

Remember that bag of tools a former employee left behind, or uncashed final paycheck? If the aggregate value of such unclaimed property exceeds $50, it must be reported.

The most common form of unclaimed property that is cause for concern for employers is unpaid wages. Unpaid wages, including those represented by payroll checks that have not been claimed for more than a year, are presumed abandoned and thus must be reported to the state treasurer. Failure to do so can be costly for employers.

The required reporting form is maintained by the Oklahoma state treasurer’s office and can be accessed online. The required contents of the report include: the name and last known address of the person to whom the check belongs, description of the property, date the check became payable, and last date of employment. You must file the report by Nov. 1 of each year to include any property reportable as of the preceding July 1.

The statute also requires you to send written notice of the unclaimed property (assuming it is for more than $50) to the former employee’s last known address at least 120 days prior to filing the report, and maintain records about the unclaimed property for at least four years after it is reported. If the last known address of the former employee is in another state, consult the laws of the state where you believe the person to reside, and comply with its reporting requirements.

Make sure you keep track of unclaimed paychecks and property and comply with reporting requirements. In Oklahoma, the fines for failing to comply with your obligations include paying interest at an annual rate of 10 percent from the date the property should have been paid, in addition to a penalty ranging from $100 for each day the report has not been filed, up to $5,000.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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