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The ISMA helps remove reporting requirement when no unclaimed property exists
e-Reports, September 7, 2010
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Efforts by the ISMA since April have resulted in one less report – one less paperwork mandate – for many physician offices.

In March, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) advised the ISMA that physicians should be submitting an unclaimed property report annually, whether or not they have any of someone else’s money on their books. Examples of unclaimed property include patient credit balances, unclaimed employee paychecks or expense checks.

The ISMA communicated this mandate in the April 5 issue of ISMA Reports.

After reading the story, William Penland, M.D., Evansville, who is on the ISMA’s Executive Committee, shared his concerns with state legislators. They were interested in the issue and gave their support as the ISMA continued to review the law pertaining to the annual reporting requirement.

Due diligence details

To fulfill your due diligence responsibilities:

  • Examine your records to identify any unclaimed property over $50.
  • Determine who owns the property.
  • Mail a letter to the owner via first-class mail (see OAG website for details, timelines).
  • Return the check or report the unclaimed property to the state.

Find complete details on the Indiana unclaimed website.

“The officials admitted there is no mandate for zero reports,” said Michael Rinebold, ISMA director of Government Relations. “However, they suggested that practices do their due diligence, and we encourage that action as well.”In the end, the ISMA successfully proved to the OAG that nothing in the law mandates yearly reporting when a medical practice has no unclaimed property.

Due diligence entails the auditing of your records every year to determine if you have unclaimed property. If you find that you do have unclaimed property and meet the aging requirements, you must file a report if you were unable to return that property to the owner.

“We remind practices they need to do an internal analysis annually to determine whether they have unclaimed property and then maintain documentation of that self-audit in case they are audited later by the state,” said Rinebold. “But, that doesn't mean practices must submit a zero report.”

For physician colleagues, Dr. Penland pointed out that simply contacting your legislators to discuss key issues and gaining their support can make things happen. “This situation offers us an excellent example of that principle,” he said.

Amnesty now available
If you’ve never filed an unclaimed property report and find funds in your records from the last 10 years that belong to a former patient or past employee, you’re in luck. Until Nov. 1, an amnesty program will allow you to file a report and avoid penalties, fees or interest. But you need to start working on the process now.

Learn more about the amnesty program on this website.

And – don’t forget – someone may also be holding property that belongs to you. Check the state’s unclaimed property website to determine if you have assets waiting to be claimed.

Searching is free on the Indiana unclaimed website.

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