Estes’ unclaimed-property bill clears Senate

TOPEKA — Legislation requested by state Treasurer Ron Estes to would give his office greater access to private information in order to return unclaimed property passed the Senate today.

A version of the bill already has passed the House.

Senate Bill 116 would relax confidentiality provisions to authorize the Secretary of Revenue to release current and prior addresses of taxpayers, or of their spouses and dependents, listed on income tax returns.

Estes, the former Sedgwick County treasurer, said that the information he is seeking would be used only in the effort to contact the owners of the unclaimed property and their families.

He would seek names, addresses and phone numbers from such sources as Department of Revenue records, death certificates and other confidential documents.

According to Estes, the treasurer’s office has an estimated $220 million worth of property belonging to current and former Kansans.

Unclaimed items of sentimental value are retained indefinitely. Other items are sold after three years and the money retained in an account for the owner to recover.

Estes said the efforts by his predecessors to return such property were restricted by limits on access to the records in question. Such efforts included public-information campaigns and booths at the State Fair.

Estes seeks a more aggressive program to return the unclaimed property, which would require greater access to information.