In Georgia, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Georgia Department of Revenue's Unclaimed Property Program.
- As a business owner, this will be the agency to contact if you possess unclaimed property (unpaid wages, for example). Remember that you are subject to both reporting requirements and the obligation to turn over abandoned property to the state.
- It is also the point of contact if you believe that you may have knowingly, or unknowingly, abandoned property (for example, failing to get back a security deposit, didn't receive a tax refund).
Georgia businesses have a number of responsibilities concerning unclaimed property. Initially, written notice must be sent to the apparent owner of the unclaimed property, if known. If the property remains unclaimed, businesses have a number of filing and reporting requirements to fulfill. Most importantly, businesses are required to turn over any and all unclaimed property to the state. Stiff penalties apply to businesses who fail to comply with any of these requirements.
Individuals should know that Georgia property is generally presumed abandoned if it has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than five years after it became payable or distributable. However, this time limit varies depending on the type of property involved. Once abandoned property is turned over to the state by a business, an individual then has seven years to reclaim it before the state essentially keeps the property.
Reporting Unclaimed Property in Georgia
A holder of abandoned property must file a verified annual report containing information required by the Department of Revenue concerning the property. The report is due on or before November 1, as of June 30 of the previous year, except insurance companies which file on a calendar year basis ( i.e., on or before May 1, as of December 31 of the preceding year).
Georgia has adopted the standard electronic filing format approved by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. To learn about these specifications, visit the Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. website. Holders remitting 25 accounts or more must file electronically.
Prior notice to owner. If the holder knows the whereabouts of the owner, the holder must contact the owner and take necessary steps to prevent abandonment from being presumed. At least 60 days, but not more than 120 days, prior to the due date of the annual report, a holder of abandoned property must send written notice to the apparent owner if his records indicate an address.
Delivery. The abandoned property must be delivered or remitted to the Department at the same time as the final date for filing the report.
Recordkeeping. A business must generally maintain related records 10 years after the unclaimed property becomes reportable. However, the period is three years for traveler's checks, money orders, and similar financial instruments.
Penalties. The penalty for willfully failing to render a report or to perform other required duties is $100 per day of violation (up to a maximum of $5,000). The penalty for willfully failing to pay or deliver property to the Department is 25 percent of the value of property that should have been reported or delivered. If the violator still refuses to pay or deliver property after written demand by the Department, a misdemeanor penalty may also be imposed.
Claiming Unclaimed Property in Georgia
In Georgia, property is generally presumed abandoned if it has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than five years after it became payable or distributable. However, this time limit varies depending on the type of property involved.
The Georgia Department of Revenue may, after seven years following the receipt of property, destroy such records related to the property as deemed necessary. After the seven-year period any claim relating to such property must be fully substantiated by a claimant, without recourse to such records. So, once abandoned property is turned over to the state by a business, an individual then has seven years to reclaim it before the state essentially keeps the property forever.
Locating abandoned property held by the state. In Georgia, unclaimed property held by the state may be found by searching the state's website.
To find out if other states may be holding your unclaimed property, search the national database established by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).
Filing a claim. A person claiming an interest in any property paid or delivered as abandoned property under the Uniform Disposition Act may file a claim with the Department of Revenue, who must determine the claim within 90 days.
A person dissatisfied with the decision of the Department or whose claim was not acted upon within the 90-day period may, within 90 days after the decision or 180 days after filing the claim not acted upon, appeal to the Superior Court of Fulton County.
Georgia Unclaimed Property Resources
If you're looking for additional information on unclaimed property, we recommend contacting your state's governmental agency that oversees the administration of this area of the law. For help in answering a specific unclaimed property question in Georgia, contact the following:
Georgia Department of Revenue
Unclaimed Property Program
4245 International Parkway, Suite A
Hapeville, Georgia 30354