For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 15, 2014


 

 

DOR's unclaimed property backlog up significantly to more than 8,000


DOR's unclaimed property backlog up significantly to more than 8,000
7/15/2014

The Department of Revenue's unclaimed property program has a significant backlog of unaddressed claims, according to documents released to WisPolitics.com. But a DOR spokeswoman calls the caseload "manageable."

Revenue took over the program following passage of the 2013-15 budget from the state treasurer's office.

Documents released to WisPolitics last week showed a backlog of more than 7,500 claims as of early June. According to DOR spokeswoman Jennifer Western, the backlog has increased to 8,039 claims as of Monday.

While under DOR, the unclaimed property program has returned nearly $18 million based on just under 19,000 claims during its first nine months of administering the program. In the last nine months it ran the program, the Treasurer's office returned just over $30 million based on more than 31,000 claims.

According to statute, the state must either approve or deny claims for unclaimed property within 90 days of filing. Western says the current wait time sits at 77 days, which she noted was "well short" of the 90-day limit.

Western said DOR had to restructure some operations following the transition from the state Treasurer's office to meet requirements that "weren't being fulfilled." She also said the backlog is partially attributable to a higher volume of claims during the summer, when the program publishes public notices for property in newspapers across the state.

"The next step in the cycle will be catching up on the processing of those claims. DOR processes over 3 million tax returns and issues billions in refunds," Western said. "We believe the current claim inventory is certainly manageable."

The Unclaimed Property program was moved over to DOR in September of 2013 after legislators decided to strip the Treasurer of those duties. The office still promotes the program, but has no direct ties to the program's operations.

The program is no stranger to backlogs, even under the Treasurer's office.

According to Treasurer's office staff, the program reached a peak of around 3,200 unaddressed claims under former Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass, which prompted the office to work overtime to reduce the backlog.

Deputy Treasurer Scott Feldt said that incident put the office on notice to ensure such backlogs were addressed.

"Because of what had happened with Sass, we were very sensitive to that 90-day timeline and therefore, as we started to get up higher to about 50 days or 60 days, we would authorize overtime for some of those employees to ensure that some of those claimants would receive their money in a timeline and manner to make sure we weren't coming up against that 90-day limit," Feldt said.

By Jason Smathers
WisPolitics.com

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