Author Archives: Michael Giovannini

Michael Giovannini
Michael is a senior associate in the firm's State & Local Tax Group, focusing his practice on advising clients and providing practical planning services with respect to various state and local tax and unclaimed property issues.  Read More

Unclaimed Property ADVISORY: Delaware Moves to Revamp Its Unclaimed Property Law

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Our Unclaimed Property Group explores legislation introduced in the state Senate that if enacted, would prompt a sea change in Delaware law governing abandoned and unclaimed property.

Read the full advisory here.

New York Looks to Further Restrict Gift Card Practices

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In December, we wrote about a new gift card law in New York that took effect on Christmas day (http://www.alston.com/advisories/ny-gift-card-legislation/), which was enacted by Senate Bill S. 4771-E. Under that now-effective law: Gift card issuers are prohibited from charging a service fee before the twenty-fifth month of dormancy, and any service fees that are applied after this time must be waived and put back on the card if the card is used within three years of the issue date. No gift card may have an expiration date of earlier than five years from the date the card was issued or the [...]Read more

California Updates Unclaimed Property Law to Recognize Electronic Recurring Bank Account Activity

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On September 22, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2258 into law, which revises California’s Unclaimed Property Law (UPL) to expressly recognize that certain electronic recurring transactions constitute “owner-generated activity” that would prevent accounts held by a banking or financial organization from being considered presumed abandoned.  As described by the bill’s author, AB 2258 effectuates a “simple modernization of the statute,” which will “eliminate unnecessary escheatment notices to be sent from the bank to the account holder that require the account holder to affirm [...]Read more

Plains All American Case Dismissed – Federal Court Determines Holder Must Develop Factual Record Before Challenging Kelmar Unclaimed Property Audit

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On August 16, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware granted Kelmar’s and Delaware’s motions to dismiss in Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., v. Cook, et al.[1]  The court determined that the Plaintiff (1) lacked standing to sue Kelmar, (2) had not demonstrated ripeness of declaratory relief against Delaware for any of its claims, except equal protection, and (3) failed to state a cause of action regarding its equal protection claim. Background In 2014, Delaware, through its third-party auditor, Kelmar, initiated an unclaimed property audit of Plains All American [...]Read more

Pennsylvania Amends IRA Provisions of Unclaimed Property Law and Adds Due Diligence Requirements

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The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed HB 1605 on July 13, 2016, and it was approved by Governor Tom Wolf on the same day.  Contained within this omnibus finance bill are two sections that significantly amend Pennsylvania's unclaimed property law: section 4, which revises the dormancy standard applicable to IRAs; and section 5, which imposes formal due diligence requirements on holders. In particular, section 4 of HB 1605 revises section 1301.8 of Pennsylvania's unclaimed property law to provide that the dormancy period for a retirement account is triggered when the holder “has lost [...]Read more

North Carolina Appellate Court Affirms that Taxation of Trust’s Income is Unconstitutional

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On July 5, 2016, the Court of Appeals of North Carolina affirmed the 2015 decision by the superior court in The Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust v. N.C. Dep't of Revenue, which held that North Carolina was constitutionally prohibited from taxing the income of the plaintiff trust.  Essentially, the state asserted jurisdiction to tax the trust's income based solely on the fact that the beneficiaries of the trust were North Carolina residents (the trust had no other connection with the state).  The superior court rejected this assertion, concluding that the state could not impose the tax [...]Read more

Retailers, Take Note: Connecticut Adds New Gift Card Cash-Back Requirements

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On June 9, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy signed into law HB 5564, which adds Connecticut to the growing list of states that require gift card sellers or issuers to provide cash back to consumers in certain partial redemption situations.  In particular, HB 5564 (enacted as Public Act No. 16-140) requires a seller or issuer of a gift card to provide the purchaser with either a proof of purchase receipt or a gift receipt for the purchase of such card.  Once the card has been redeemed for goods or services and the remaining balance is less than $3.00, the redeeming seller or issuer must pay the [...]Read more

State-vs.-State Unclaimed Property Dispute May be Heading to the Supreme Court

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In March, we issued an advisory highlighting a lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania Treasury Department against the State of Delaware in federal district court seeking to recover uncashed official checks escheated to Delaware by MoneyGram.  (http://www.alston.com/advisories/money-gram/).  Essentially, the dispute centers upon whether MoneyGram's official checks were subject to the Federal Disposition Act, in which case they would have been reportable to the state(s) in which they were issued rather than Delaware, the state of MoneyGram's domicile.  In our prior advisory, we pointed out that [...]Read more

State & Local Tax Advisory – Gillette Overturned: One Test, Two Decisions in California

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On Thursday, December 31, 2015, the Supreme Court of California issued its decision in Gillette Co. v. Franchise Tax Board, reversing the California Court of Appeal and holding that the Multistate Tax Compact is not a binding compact between its member states.  Accordingly, the California legislature had the authority to, and did in fact, replace the state’s equally weighted apportionment formula with a double-weighted-sales formula in 1993.  This highly anticipated decision by the California high court will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the landscape of ongoing disputes among taxpayers [...]Read more

Delaware Governor Signs Unclaimed Property Overhaul Into Law

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On July 22, 2015, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed into law a significant piece of unclaimed property reform legislation, S.B. 141.  Alston & Bird issued an advisory on June 23 analyzing the changes brought about by the bill.  Our advisory is available here: www.alston.com/advisories/serious-property-reform. To summarize, S.B. 141 will do the following: Make permanent the Secretary of State's voluntary disclosure program. Require the Department of Finance to provide holders with the opportunity to enter into the Secretary of State's VDA program before being subjected to [...]Read more