February 9, 2012: Columbia, MD-Budget shortfalls remain widespread in the wake of the financial crisis. One notable, and oft-overlooked, casualty of the worst recession in a generation is lax administration of escheatment and unclaimed property rules by state authorities. Where once companies could often pay little mind to local laws governing unclaimed property, now, as recent studies have shown, enforcement is ramping up as local governments look high and low for ways to fill in budget gaps.
The nation's credit professionals must keep this in mind, and to help them, Val Jundt, managing director of Keane Consulting and Advisory Services and a frequent presenter at events hosted by the National Association of Credit Management (NACM), recently offered her best recommendations to trade credit professionals beset by these new challenges, where stringent enforcement of unclaimed property liabilities is the norm, rather than the exception. "Though accounts receivable credit balances are clearly within the definition of an unclaimed property liability, it has only been within the past 5-7 years that this category of property has become a primary focus for the auditor," said Jundt. "The responsibility of the credit manager to ensure that the identification, tracking and posting of all customer credit balances is done accurately, and completely, is critical."
Certain obligations can be very easily overlooked by creditors and their companies, Jundt noted, and being aware of these common mistakes can prevent a great deal of troublesome penalties down the road. "For example, there are often contracts with vendors that allow for certain discounts if paid early, or legitimate offsets due to damaged goods, which could appear to be obligations from an accounting perspective," said Jundt. "If these items are not documented carefully, the auditors often operate under an ‘assumption' that a liability exists; often creating an estimated liability that can exceed several thousand, or even million, dollars."
"Whether the credit is still on the books or has been reduced to a check, the auditor will carefully review this area to identify a potential liability," she added.
For companies looking to increase compliance and protect themselves from newly-zealous auditors, Jundt offered these helpful hints to get started:
- Confirm that your department is properly identifying and tracking customer credit balances.
- Make sure that unclaimed credit balances are being reported as unclaimed property.
- Follow up on customer credits early and often to resolve them where possible.
- Document your policies and procedures-and test them to make sure they are being followed.
Jundt will present "The ABCs of Unclaimed Property Compliance" at this year's upcoming NACM Credit Congress, the premier educational event for trade credit and finance professionals. To find out more, visit the Credit Congress website.
About the National Association of Credit Management
NACM, headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, supports more than 15,000 business credit and financial professionals worldwide with premier industry services, tools and information. NACM and its network of affiliated associations are the leading resource for credit and financial management information, education, products and services designed to improve the management of business credit and accounts receivable. NACM's collective voice has influenced federal legislative policy results concerning commercial business and trade credit to our nation's policy makers for more than 100 years, and continues to play an active part in legislative issues pertaining to business credit and corporate bankruptcy. Its annual Credit Congress is the largest gathering of credit professionals in the world.
NACM has a wealth of member experts in the fields of business-to-business credit and law. Consider using NACM as a resource in the development of your next credit or finance story.
Source: National Association of Credit Management
Contact: Caroline Zimmerman, 410-740-5560