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01 Feb 1972

Unclaimed Money Act 1971

Archived legislative commentary on the Unclaimed Money Act 1971 from PIB vol 65 Feb 1972.

This commentary item was published in Public Information Bulletin Volume 65, February 1972

More information about Public Information Bulletins.

The Unclaimed Money Act 1971 revises and consolidates the Unclaimed Moneys Act 1908 and its Amendments. The new Act, which applies from 1 June 1971, is the first comprehensive revision of the law relating to unclaimed money in more than 60 years.

The main features of the new Act are -

To Whom the Act Applies

It applies mainly to companies, banks, building societies and insurance offices that hold defined classes of unclaimed money. It also has limited application to the following six classes of individuals when they are in possession of clients' or principals' unclaimed balances -

  • Money-lenders
  • Sharebrokers
  • Auctioneers
  • Accountants
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Motor Vehicle Dealers

These companies and individuals are referred to in the Act as holders.

Some May Elect to Use the Facilities of the Act

The individuals specified in the Act can voluntarily elect to take advantage of the full facilities available to companies. Any other individual or organisation also can elect at any time to take advantage of those facilities.

Some Organisations No Longer Included

The following organisations included in the 1908 Act will no longer be holders unless they elect to become voluntary holders at any time:

  • Local authorities
  • Public bodies
  • Incorporated societies
  • Religious societies
  • Religious, charitable or educational trusts.

Cessation of Business or Death of an Individual

The Act includes further special facility whereby early payment can be made to the Crown, when a business ceases or an individual dies. The special clearing facility applies to any kind of money held or owed, unclaimed, for 6 months after the cessation or death.

What is Unclaimed Money

  • The Act relates chiefly to deposit money in trading and savings banks. It includes also trade debts and proceeds of insurance.
  • Company dividends, Co-operative society rebates on store trading, and benefits payable from pension or superannuation funds WILL NO LONGER BECOME unclaimed money unless an election to pay them to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue is made when business ceases or an individual dies.
  • Any holder can elect not to pay in unclaimed money where it does not exceed $20 in respect of any one owner.

When Does Money Become Unclaimed Money

Trading and savings bank deposits 6 or 25 years, depending on the deposit terms
Insurance proceeds 6 years
Trade debts 6 years

Requirements for Holders

Holders are required to -

  • Keep an unclaimed money register in the form prescribed in the Act.
    • Enter on 1 June the name of the owner of the unclaimed money which has arisen during the 12 months ending on 31 May, and the amount of the money
  • Send a notice to the owner at his last known address, by 30 June.
  • Send a copy of the register entries to the Commissioner by 30 September.
  • Pay to the Commissioner by 31 October any unclaimed money which the owner has still not claimed by 30 September.

Option when Business Ceases or Individual Dies

  • Pay to the Commissioner the money held or owed, unclaimed, for 6 months after cessation or death.
  • Send the Commissioner details of the payment and of the owner of the money (no register entries are required).

Commissioner Will Repay Unclaimed Money

  • Any owner who establishes his identity can obtain a repayment of unclaimed money at any time from the Commissioner.
  • Repayments for Post Office Savings Bank deposits which have become unclaimed money are made by the Director-General of the Post Office.

Payment to Masterton Office

All unclaimed money records are now held in Masterton District Office. It would help us to give you a better service if all payments and enquiries are made direct to that office.

Sections of the Act

There are 15 sections of the Act.

They cover -

Section 1. The commencing date of the Act (1 June 1971)
Section 2. Definitions of terms used in the Act.
Sections 3. and 8. Payment of unclaimed money to the Crown, through the Commissioner of Inland Revenue.
Section 4. -The kinds of money that become unclaimed money in the hands of a holder, and the periods of time which must first elapse.
-The option which can be exercise where the unclaimed money is less that $20 in respect of one owner.
-The kinds of money unclaimed that will not normally become unclaimed money.
-The special clearing facility available when business ceases or an individual dies.
Section 5 -Those who are holders under the Act, and the extent to which the Act applies to them.
-The election which anyone wishing to become a holder can make.
Section 6 The keeping of a register of unclaimed money.
Section 7 -The sending of notices to owners by 30 June.
-The supplying of register entry copies to the commissioner by 30 September.
Section 8 Payments of unclaimed money to the Commissioner by 31 October.
Section 9 Special arrangements which the commissioner can make for register entires, notification to owners, and advice payment to the Commissioner.
Section 10 Examination of accounts by the Commissioner or officers authorised by him.
Section 11 Repayment of unclaimed money to owners by the Commissioner, and by the Director-General of the Post Office where the unclaimed money was a Post Office Savings Bank deposit.
Section 12 The maintaining of secrecy by all officers of the Inland Revenue Department.
Section 13 The offences which a holder or executives of a holder can commit.
Section 14 Consequential amendments to the Waterfront Industry Act 1953, the Law Practitioners Act 1955, and the Companies Act 1955.
Section 15 Repeal of former unclaimed money enactments, but with a saving clause for money which had already become unclaimed money before 1 June 1971, the date on which the new Act came into force.