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Unclaimed Property Rules and Time Limits for Tennessee

Filed under Basic Accounting. Fact checked on May 24, 2012.

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

In Tennessee, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Unclaimed Property Division of the Tennessee State Treasury Department.

  • 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).

Tennessee 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 Tennessee property is generally presumed abandoned after one to 15 years of inactivity by the owner of the property. 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 Tennessee

In Tennessee, a holder of abandoned property reports the property as of December 31 to the state Treasurer by May 1. The State Treasurer may extend the time to file the report upon written request. Local governments report unclaimed property as of June 30 to the Treasurer by September 1.

The report includes the following information:

  • if known, the name and last known address of the owner of any property valued at $50 or more;
  • in the case of insurance corporations, the full name of the insured or annuitant and the last known address appearing on the corporation's records;
  • a description of the property, including any identifying number, and the amount due, with items valued under $50 reported in the aggregate;
  • the date the property became payable, demandable, or returnable, except for property reported in the aggregate;
  • the date of the last transaction with the owner with respect to the property, except for property reported in the aggregate;
  • all prior names of the holder and the names of all prior holders of the property; and
  • any other information required by the Treasurer.

Prior notice to owner. Not more than 120 days or less than 60 days before filing a report, the holder sends written notice to the owner of any unclaimed property valued at $50 or more.

Delivery. Along with the report, the holder generally delivers the unclaimed funds and intangible property to the Treasurer. The Treasurer may extend the time to deliver the property for good cause upon written request. The Treasurer reviews the report to decide whether to accept delivery of the tangible property. Unless the holder of the property hears otherwise within 120 days after submitting the report, the holder delivers the tangible property to the Treasurer.

Recordkeeping. A business must generally maintain related records 10 years after the unclaimed property becomes reportable.

Penalties. a holder that fails to file a report is liable for a penalty of $25 per day up to an aggregate of $1,000.

With respect to a holder that fails to deliver abandoned property, for each year the property is not paid or delivered, the penalty statute requires the person to pay a penalty equal to 10 percent of the value of the property, up to a maximum of $50,000 or 25 percent of the value of the property, whichever is less. However, the Treasurer has the authority to not assess a penalty or to waive an assessed penalty.

Claiming Unclaimed Property in Tennessee

In Tennessee, property is generally presumed abandoned after one to 15 years of inactivity by the owner of the property. 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.

Locating abandoned property held by the state. Unclaimed property held by the state may be found by searching the state's website (http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/unclp/).

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. Any person claiming an interest in property delivered to the State Treasurer may file a claim for its return.

To start the process, fill out a claim form request available online (http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/unclp/) after performing a successful search. Provide the information requested and print two copies of the claim form: one for you to keep and one to send to the Unclaimed Property Division, along with any requested documentation, to the address indicated.

The Treasurer considers the claim within 90 days and may hold a hearing and receive evidence concerning it. If a hearing is held, the Treasurer prepares a finding and a written decision, including the evidence and reasoning.

A person may file a claim with a local government. If the claim is allowed, the Treasurer will reimburse the local government. If the claim is denied, the person may file a claim with the Treasurer as described above.

If the Treasurer denies the claim or has not acted within 90 days, the person may file a claim in the Chancery Court for Davidson County within 90 days of the decision or, if the Treasurer failed to act, within 180 days from filing the claim with the Treasurer.

Tennessee 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 Tennessee, contact the following:

State of Tennessee
Unclaimed Property Division
9th Floor
Andrew Jackson Office Building
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-6499
Fax: (615) 734-6458
E-mail: UCP.Information@state.tn.us
Website: http://tennessee.gov/treasury/unclaim/

Tennessee Abandoned Property Time Limits

Property Type Presumed Abandoned After
Bank account five years
Checks or drafts five years
Demutualization proceeds three years
Gift certificates, gift cards, and credit memos Gift certificates: the earlier of the certificate's expiration date or two years from the date issued.
Gift certificates issued after 1998 that have no expiration date are exempt from state reporting requirements if the issuer does not impose dormancy charges.
A retail layaway account is not subject to the abandoned property rules.
Insurance policies Life or annuity policies: five years.
IRAs or retirement funds no specific provision
Money orders seven years
Other intangible personal property not otherwise specified five years
Proceeds from class action suits no specific provision
Property distributable by a business association in the course of dissolution the date of dissolution
Property held by courts or public agencies Property held by courts, public officers, agencies and the federal government: one year.
Property held by fiduciaries five years
Safe deposit boxes two years
Shares in a financial institution five years
Stocks, dividends, and distributions three years
Traveler's checks 15 years
Deposits and advances owed utility company customer Deposits, refunds, and advances: two years.
Wages or salaries

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