treasurer

Tennessee launches updated unclaimed property portal

The state Department of Treasury has updated its online search portal for unclaimed or missing money in Tennessee. We went through the motions and found out we had $27 with our name on it lying around somewhere. We’re told the check is now in the mail.

Here’s the full release from Treasurer David Lillard’s office:

The Tennessee Department of Treasury Unclaimed Property Division has launched exciting enhancements to ClaimItTN.gov, the online portal where anyone can search and claim missing money they may have in Tennessee. As of June 30, 2021, there is $1.2 billion waiting to be claimed.

The Unclaimed Property Division is a consumer protection program of the Tennessee Department of Treasury that works to reunite the millions of missing dollars turned over every year with its rightful owners. Treasury estimates that one in six Tennesseans could have missing money.

ClaimItTN.gov is now mobile-friendly, improving online searches for unclaimed property in Tennessee on any internet device. The claims process has also been streamlined, including enhanced communications within the portal. Claimants can now file multiple properties on a single claim, greatly reducing the time it takes to claim and receive property.

In response to a customer service survey sent to each claimant, Tennesseans are praising their claim experience in the new portal.

“I love how the status of each step of the process was self-explanatory. I will definitely refer others to search your website! Thanks!!”

“This was a very easy and pleasant experience. I have told everyone I know about it. Who knew there was lost money out there. Thank you so much!”

“This Unclaimed Property was a total surprise to me. And during this difficult year of the COVID-19 virus, the lockdowns and unfortunate deaths of so many people, this small unexpected ‘gift’ lifted my spirit, and made me smile with gratefulness.”

“It was fast and the staff I spoke with were always helpful and so kind. Thank you for this service; this money was truly needed right now.”

From July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, 188,704 properties totaling about $60 million were returned by the Unclaimed Property Division to the owners or their heirs, local governments, and reciprocal states.

“It has been rewarding to see millions of dollars put back into Tennesseans’ bank accounts during such a critical time,” State Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. said.

Unclaimed property is money that has been turned over to the State by businesses and organizations unable to locate the owners. This includes intangible assets such as utility or business refunds, unclaimed wages, credit balances for overpayments, gift certificates, securities, bank accounts, etc.

The Treasury Department utilizes various methods to locate owners of unclaimed property, including mailing letters to the address provided when the property was turned over from the business (holder), and sending letters to employers of potential claimants whose Social Security Number has been matched with records from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. On average, the Unclaimed Property Division sends hundreds of thousands of letters each year to potential claimants. If you have received a letter, you can verify the information by visiting ClaimItTN.gov.

There is never a fee to claim your missing money in Tennessee, nor is there a timeframe to claim. Anyone can see if they are owed any missing money by searching their name at ClaimItTN.gov, and may file a claim online if they find unclaimed property belonging to them. The online database contains all unclaimed property in Tennessee dating to the beginning of the program. Treasury recommends searching for common misspellings of your name and addresses as well, as that may be why the business was unable to return the money to you initially. Our website also includes a link to help you search for missing money in other states.

Tennessee launches app to manage 529 college savings plans

A release from the state Department of the Treasury:

NASHVILLE, TN – The Tennessee Department of Treasury annually recognizes 529 Day to raise awareness of the importance of saving for a child’s future education. May 29 is nationally recognized as 529 College Savings Plan Day, and it’s an excellent time to become a TNStars College Savings 529 account holder!

When you become a TNStars customer, you will have another useful way to put college savings in the palm of your hand, with access to the new ReadySave529 education savings mobile app. TNStars partnered with Ascensus financial services to offer the app, which makes it easier to view your account balance and investment allocation, contribute funds, and see how your savings compare to peers. It also makes it even easier to invite family and friends to make gift contributions to your child’s account.

So, what is a 529 Plan? It’s named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code that authorizes tax-free status for qualified tuition programs. Earnings in 529 plans accumulate on a tax-deferred basis and distributions are not taxed federally when used for qualified higher education expenses. A 529 plan can be used to pay for college costs at any qualified college nationwide.

With TNStars, a parent, grandparent, family member, employer, or friend can make gift contributions to an account. Earnings grow tax-free, and money can be used for tuition and fees, room and board, books, computers and more. The Tennessee Department of Treasury monitors the plan’s investment options and works to keep costs low so families can save even more.

Families can visit tnstars.com to open an online account in minutes with as little as $25. Once you open a TNStars account, the app is available for download in the Apple and Google Play app stores.

“May 29 is an excellent annual reminder of the importance of saving for a child’s future in a 529 college savings account, such as TNStars,” said State Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. “With the mobile app, we can provide technology to better connect TNStars customers to their accounts. That’s something worth celebrating on 529 Day.”

Join the conversation about 529 Day and the new app by following TNStars on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (#529Day).

Democrats call on Tennessee to divest McDonald’s shares

The state Capitol on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Democratic Reps. Yusuf Hakeem of Chattanooga and Joe Towns of Memphis are calling on state Treasurer David Lillard to divest Tennessee of its $80 million worth of shares in McDonald’s after 77 African-American former franchisees sued the company for allegedly denying them the same opportunities as white restaurant owners.

Here’s the letter Hakeem sent to Lillard this week:

Dear Treasurer Lillard, 

I write to concur with the request made of you by Representative Towns in September of this year to reconsider the Tennessee Treasury’s investment in McDonald’s stock. The allegations in the amended complaint filed against McDonald’s on behalf of 77 former Black franchisees are disturbing, and even more troubling is the significant decline in the number of McDonald’s Black franchisees. I share the concern expressed by Representative Towns’ that the Tennessee Treasury currently holds nearly $80 million of McDonald’s stock and I likewise believe we should use this moment to take a stand for racial equality and divest our state’s stock in McDonald’s.

Studies have shown that income inequality leads to higher rates of health and social problems. While these former franchisees sought to achieve the American dream and financial security, McDonald’s allegedly took steps to ensure that African-American owners were not afforded the same opportunity to succeed at the same levels as White franchisees financially. The State of Tennessee should not support any business that systematically engages in harmful practices to Black business owners and further widens the income gap. Sadly, the company has a well- documented history of racial discrimination and based on the allegations in the lawsuit; they still have much work to do. Until McDonald’s takes steps to correct its misdeeds, Tennesseans should not reward the company by holding onto nearly $80 million in its stock. Please call me at your convenience to discuss.

Sincerely,

/signed/

State Representative Yusuf Hakeem

Tennessee to allow weed investment to go pot

The “policy implications” of the state’s retirement fund’s investment into a company operating in the marijuana sector has Treasurer David Lillard ordering the shares be sold, according to a report by Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

That’s despite a 26% gain in share price of San Diego-based Innovative Industrial Properties Inc. since the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System’s small-stock fund bought 7,009 shares in April or May.

The company is a real estate Investment trust that bills itself as the “leading provider of real estate capital for the medical-use cannabis industry.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Tennessee was among more than dozen states that stood to benefit from Illinois’ new recreational marijuana. Illinois is one of 11 states where Innovative Industrial Properties does business.

Michael Brakebill, the pension fund’s chief investment officer, told the Times Free Press that the investment into the company was part of a small-company stock index the state created.

Lillard said it’s difficult to evaluate every stock that’s part of an index, but that “we’ve got to figure out a way to do that and deal with it because it highlights the fact that you know what you’ve got in portfolio.”

The investment in Innovative Industrial Properties is worth about $720,000 out of the state’s $52 billion retirement system.

“The bottom line is I have ordered Michael and his staff to sell this investment, and we won’t have it after today or tomorrow, whenever the transaction goes down,” Lillard told the paper.

Tennessee lawmakers have balked in recent years to join states legalizing medical or recreational cannabis.

 

TN comptroller, treasurer, secretary of state seeking new terms

The state’s three constitutional officers – Comptroller Justin Wilson, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Treasurer David Lillard – are all planning to seek new terms in office when the Tennessee General Assembly votes to fill the positions in January, reports the News Sentinel.

Hargett and Lillard have been widely expected to go for new terms, though there has been some speculation that Wilson, 71, was considering retirement. But in an interview last week, the former cabinet member in Gov. Don Sundquist’s administration said he had decided to seek another two-year term, though it might be his last.

All three of the men, elected to office in 2009 when Republicans first gained a majority of seats in the state Legislature, are unlikely to face opposition. Under the state constitution, the comptroller and treasurer serve two-year terms; the secretary of state serves a four-year term.

Wilson, a longtime donor to Republican political causes, won his first term after some attention to donations of $36,500 he made to Republican legislators and PACs a year before Republican legislators elected him to the office. Wilson has stopped making direct donations to candidates, but has continued as a significant donor to Republican-oriented PACs.

On the other hand, Wilson says he has ceased making political contributions to either candidates or PACS involved in elections for federal office, having decided that as a state official the contests or Congress and the presidency are “none of my business.”