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UPPO Advocacy Year in Review

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 3, 2019

UPPO’s Government Relations and Advocacy Committee (GRAC) had another busy year in 2018. 

Following are some of the most noteworthy highlights from the committee’s advocacy work.

 

January

UPPO submitted comments to New Jersey regarding proposed unclaimed property regulations. The comments raised issues related to the regulation’s stored-value card liability, exemptions and definitions, as well as bank cards and non-escheat-related consumer protections.

 

The comments encouraged New Jersey to revise the proposed regulations, thus avoiding potential conflicts with existing requirements and providing clarity for unclaimed property stakeholders. 

 

February

The Government Relations and Advocacy Committee compiled an issue-by-issue comparison of the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act and the American Bar Association’s Unclaimed Property Model Act.  

 

In response to deviations from RUUPA included in Washington House Bill 2486, UPPO submitted comments to Rep. Paul Graves, voicing concern and suggesting changes to several important provisions.

 

April

To continue refining and improving UPPO’s advocacy work, GRAC established its top five priority issues. This list was developed using results from a membership-wide survey. Responding to the needs and desires of members, GRAC refined and prioritized the survey results. Establishing these priorities will help UPPO take a strategic, focused approach to important issues affecting unclaimed property holders. The priorities are:

  1. Record retention, statutes of limitations and use of estimation.
  2. Rules for taking custody of abandoned property and foreign property. 
  3. B2B exemptions.
  4. Derivative Rights Doctrine.
  5. Presumed abandonment of securities.

 

UPPO signed on as a sponsor of California A.B. 2773, a bill to establish a voluntary disclosure program in the state. The California State Controller’s Office subsequently expressed concerns with the bill’s language, leading Assemblyman Dante Acosta, the bill’s author, to pull the bill from consideration. 

 

May

After establishing its top five priority issues this spring, GRAC formed workgroups to establish goals for each priority issue. All of the workgroups discussed the need for focused outreach to educate key audiences – specifically legislators and unclaimed property administrators – about these issues and UPPO’s position on them. 

 

June

The biggest issue arising in June was the IRS Revenue Ruling stating that traditional IRA holders must withhold 10 percent tax and issue a 1099-R when reporting unclaimed property to the states. This ruling appears to be written with banks in mind, but it presents significant issues for the securities industry. UPPO is working with the Holders Coalition and other organizations whose members are likely to be affected by this ruling to formulate a strategy for raising these issues with the IRS and other agencies, such as the SEC and FINRA, which may have conflicting opinions on the practice. 

 

As GRAC’s priority issue workgroups’ work continued, they began identifying the messages and methods for most effectively discussing key issues, as well as materials the UPPO staff can develop to support these efforts. 

 

August

Preston Rutledge, assistant secretary of labor for the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, said the EBSA will work with businesses and trade groups to develop best practices regarding employers’ responsibilities to contact plan participants regarding their benefits. In response to this announcement, UPPO sent a letter to Rutledge, offering its support and assistance. 

 

September

The Holders Coalition – a group of organizations, including UPPO, whose members hold or represent owners of property – submitted comments  to Internal Revenue Service and Department of Treasury officials regarding IRS Revenue Ruling 2018-17. The comments sought clarification and guidance regarding compliance with the ruling, issued by the IRS in May.

 

Subsequently, Holders Coalition members, including UPPO members Jennifer Borden and Dana Terry, ICI and SIFMA representatives, met with IRS and Treasury officials. The meeting was productive, and the government representatives seemed to understand that the implementation timeline is tight and may consider delaying implementation. Discussion of other issues from the revenue ruling resulted in meeting participants agreeing to conduct additional research and reconvene. 

 

These efforts contributed to an extension of the compliance deadline from Jan. 1, 2019, to Jan. 1, 2020. In November, the IRS issued Notice 2018-90 announcing the extension.

 

During a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event focused on retirement, a Department of Labor benefits regulator announced that work is underway to develop guidance for employers who no longer have contact with former employees who remain enrolled in company retirement plans. 

 

UPPO also surveyed state unclaimed property administrators, requesting information about a variety of possible changes affecting holder reporting. Twenty-five states responded. The information they provided has been compiled and is now available. View the survey results

 

November

GRAC and other members of the Holders Coalition submitted comments regarding concerns with Illinois proposed rules developed as a result of the state’s RUUPA-inspired legislation, which passed in 2017. Among the noteworthy areas of concern for holders are issues related to treatment of tax-deferred retirement accounts, due diligence, audit practices and the state’s voluntary disclosure agreement program.

 

December

GRAC submitted comments to District of Columbia Council member Jack Evans, regarding bill B22-0654, the district’s version of the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. Introduced in January, the bill sat idle throughout much of the year until an October public hearing. As with many of the bills introduced nationwide in the wake of the RUUPA’s adoption by the Uniform Law Commission, the D.C. bill contains potential issues. GRAC’s comments addressed areas of concern, including provisions related to taking of custody, derivative rights and securities. 

 

Let Your Voice Be Heard

As more and more legislatures and regulatory agencies take on issues affecting unclaimed property compliance, advocacy has become an increasingly important role for UPPO. Please take a few minutes to complete our Government Relations and Advocacy Survey to help us build our grassroots advocacy network. 

 

Responses will give us the ability to better provide you with the information you want and need, and will allow us to mobilize UPPO members when we are faced with legislative and regulatory challenges and opportunities. 

 

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