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Unclaimed Property Rules and Time Limits for Iowa

Filed under Basic Accounting. Fact checked on May 25, 2012.

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Learn the unclaimed property rules and their time limits for the state of Iowa.

In Iowa, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Iowa Treasurer of State.

  • 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).

Iowa 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 Iowa property is generally presumed abandoned three years after it becomes 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 the burden of reclaiming it from the state.

Reporting Unclaimed Property in Iowa

Information reports are required of persons holding unclaimed property ( e.g., banks, insurance companies) that is presumed abandoned. The report is made to the Treasurer of State and is due before November 1 for each year ending as of the preceding June 30. However, reports of unclaimed insurance company demutualization proceeds are due May 1 for the preceding calendar year.

All companies are required to file electronically for the 2007 report year due on or before November 1, 2007. There are no hard-copy forms for the 2007 reporting year. All holders must file their unclaimed property report using the HRS PRO Reporting Software available from the Treasurer's website.

The report requires identification of the property and its former owner, the dates when the property became payable, and when the last transaction with the owner occurred.

Information reports are not required for property valued at less than $50. Also, the reporting requirements do not apply with respect to traveler's checks, money orders, cashier's checks, official checks, and other similar instruments.

Prior notice to owner. A holder of unclaimed property must attempt to locate the owner by sending a letter to the owner's last known address. The letter should be sent at the very latest by the end of September because the holder needs to give at least 30 days notice to the owner before submitting a report to the Treasurer's Office.

Delivery. Persons who are required to file information reports must deliver the property to the Treasurer of State at the same time, with the exception of the contents of safe deposit boxes, which are delivered 120 days after filing the report.

The Treasurer may destroy or dispose of presumed abandoned property at any time if the property has no commercial value.

Recordkeeping. A business must generally maintain related records four years after the unclaimed property is reported.

Penalties. Once property has been delivered, liability is assumed by the state. Interest is charged at the annual rate of 10 percent for failure to deliver property. For willful failure to deliver property, a penalty of 25 percent of the value of the property is also imposed. However, the Treasurer may waive interest or penalties if a satisfactory explanation is given or if there is a misunderstanding in applying the related laws.

Claiming Unclaimed Property in Iowa

In Iowa, property is generally presumed abandoned three years after it becomes 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 three years to reclaim it before the state sells the property to the highest bidder at a public sale.

Locating abandoned property held by the state. The Treasurer of State is required to publish a notice by November 30 of the year following delivery of the property listing the unclaimed property delivered to the Treasurer and the alphabetized names of the apparent owners together with their last known address. However, the Treasurer is not required to publish in such notice any item valued at less than $50.

The notice is published at least once each week for two successive weeks in an English language newspaper of general circulation in the county in which is located the last known address of any person named in the notice. Notice is also sent to each apparent owner individually.

The notice requirements do not apply with respect to traveler's checks, money orders, cashier's checks, official checks, or similar instruments.

Unclaimed property held by the state may also 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.Claims for recovery of abandoned property are made to the Treasurer of State on forms designated by that officer, who will notify the claimant in writing of the finding. To get started, perform an online search to find the property and then generate the required claim form.

A person aggrieved by a decision of the Treasurer or a person whose claim has not been acted upon within 90 days after its filing may bring an action in the district court within 90 days after the unfavorable decision or 180 days after the claim not acted upon.

Iowa 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 Iowa, contact the following:

Iowa Treasurer of State
Great Iowa Treasure Hunt
Lucas State Office Building
321 E. 12th St.
1st Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: (515) 281-5367
Fax: (515) 242-6962
E-mail: foundit@tos.state.ia.us
Website: http://www.treasurer.state.ia.us/for_businesses/unclaimed_property_compliance/

Each state has rules that specify the amount of time that must elapse before unclaimed property is considered to be abandoned. The amount of time varies with the type of property. The chart below specifies the time period for various classes of property.

Iowa Abandoned Property Time Limits

Property Type Presumed Abandoned After
Bank account three years
Checks or drafts three years
Demutualization proceeds two years
Gift certificates, gift cards, and credit memos gift certificates and gift cards: three years
Insurance policies Life or annuity policies: three years
The presumed maturity of an insurance policy is two years.
IRAs or retirement funds no specific provision
Money orders seven years
Other intangible personal property not otherwise specified three years
Proceeds from class action suits no specific provision
Property distributable by a business association in the course of dissolution one year
Property held by courts or public agencies two years
Property held by fiduciaries three years
Safe deposit boxes three years
Shares in a financial institution three years
Stocks, dividends, and distributions three years
Traveler's checks 15 years
Deposits and advances owed utility company customer deposits, refunds, and advances: one year
Wages or salaries one year

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