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States Score a Victory in Savings Bond Dispute

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 7, 2017

On Aug. 8, 2017, U.S. Federal Claims Court Judge Elaine Kaplan issued a ruling in support of Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner’s claim that the U.S. Treasury should turn over to the state approximately $150 million in unredeemed U.S. savings bonds. 

 

Kansas argued that the treasury should work with the states to identify and locate bond owners with last-known addresses in each respective state so they could reunite those citizens with the proceeds from their matured, unredeemed bonds. 

 

Among other things, the U.S. Treasury claimed its savings bond regulations do not permit transfer of ownership under the Unclaimed Property Act, and that because Kansas lacked possession of the bond certificates, its claims were invalid. The court disagreed, concluding that the U.S. government’s arguments “lack merit.” The ruling did not, however, grant the state permission to redeem the unclaimed bonds. 

 

“We wholeheartedly agree that the states are best equipped to reunite citizens with missing or unclaimed property,” LaTurner said in a statement. “The Kansas Treasurer’s Office is looking forward to returning the money in question to Kansans at the appropriate time. Kansas is leading the effort with many other states to hold the U.S. Treasury accountable. Not only is this a victory for the bond owners in Kansas but for bond owners across the country.”

 

Several other states have taken similar actions against the U.S. Treasury over their citizens’ portion of an estimated $19 billion to $23 billion in unredeemed bonds. 

 

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis called Kaplan’s ruling, “a victory for Kansas and for Florida.” He wrote in his monthly newsletter that the ruling allows Florida to move forward with its efforts to reunite residents with proceeds from unredeemed bonds because the decision “addressed several of the same arguments that we have made.” The state estimates Florida citizens are owed approximately $1 billion for unredeemed bonds. 

 

Mississippi filed suit against the U.S. Treasury in 2016, seeking approximately $155 million. Judge Kaplan stayed that case while considering the Kansas case. 

 

In addition to legal action against the federal government, several states have passed legislation requiring unredeemed U.S. savings bonds to be escheated as unclaimed property. In 2015 and 2016 alone, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Rhode Island and Wisconsin passed such bills into law. 

Tags:  Florida  Kansas  Mississippi  savings bonds  unclaimed property 

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