Rep. Estes Introduces Unclaimed Savings Bond Legislation
Bill seeks to return $26 billion in unclaimed bonds to people
WASHINGTON—Congressman Ron Estes (R-KS), along with Reps. Danny Davis (D-IL), William Timmons (R-SC) and Ben McAdams (D-UT), introduced the Unclaimed Savings Bond Act of 2019 today. The legislation would require the U.S. Treasury Department to transfer all records and ownership of unclaimed, matured savings bonds to states to find the rightful owners and heirs of the bonds. The bipartisan legislation currently has seven total cosponsors.
"For decades, the federal Treasury Department has held people's matured savings bonds without returning them to the legal owners or heirs, including nearly $210 million in unclaimed bonds owed to Kansans. The Unclaimed Savings Bond Act of 2019 will ensure states are able to access Treasury records and return matured, unclaimed savings bonds to their legal owners," said Congressman Ron Estes. "As Kansas state treasurer, I helped Kansas become one of the first states to pursue legal action to obtain unclaimed bonds and return them to their owners. I'm proud to introduce this legislative fix to address this issue across the country."
Currently, there are more than $26 billion worth of decades old, matured, unclaimed United States Savings Bonds sitting in the U.S. Treasury, a number that has grown by roughly $10 billion in the last six years. The federal government uses this money as it pleases, even though the money constitutes a loan made to the government by citizens decades ago. Despite maintaining records of the bond owners and their bonds, Treasury has done nothing to contact the rightful owners of the unredeemed bonds, even when the bonds matured and were payable. While states often make efforts to return unclaimed property, Treasury has refused to give states access to the records to do so. Since 1952, states have tried to get the federal government to turn over the names and addresses of those individuals so they could be found and notified of their unclaimed bonds. Recently, states, beginning with Kansas, have initiated litigation to obtain the records from the Treasury Department.
"I am honored to join a bipartisan effort to allow states to obtain the necessary information to assist individuals in reclaiming matured unclaimed bonds" said Congressman Danny Davis. "This common sense legislation is pivotal to Illinois where there is roughly 1 Billion dollars on unclaimed or missing bonds. I am hopeful that we can move this bill to passage and correct this problem expeditiously."
“Over the last several decades, $357 million worth of South Carolinians’ unclaimed savings bonds have accumulated in the United States Treasury. These bonds are fully matured and serve no one’s financial interest in their current state. This legislation is simple, it will empower state treasurers across the country to reunite citizens with their investments,” said Congressman William Timmons. “I am proud to join my colleague, Congressman Estes, in his effort to rejoin Americans with their money.”
“If the Federal government can’t or won’t return Utahns hard-earned money in an easy and accessible way, then the states should step in. This bipartisan bill builds on what works at the local level to ensure Utahns are reconnected with over $200 million,” said Congressman Ben McAdams.
“This legislation mandates the government connect the dots and finally payback the taxpayer what they are owed. There is currently over $26 billion in unclaimed U.S. Savings Bonds collecting dust in the U.S. Treasury Building. Missourians alone are owed an estimated $438 million. These bonds were sold with the guarantee of the full faith and credit of the United States government. It is time for the government to live up to its promise,” said Congressman Jason Smith.
“Illinois has over $1 billion in matured and unclaimed savings bonds. If the Federal government continues to refuse to notify the rightful owners of matured bonds, then the states should be allowed to step in and do so. I am proud to join this bipartisan group to introduce this legislation, which will ensure the money of hard-working taxpayers returns to their pockets,” said Congressman Darin LaHood.
“I’m pleased to join my colleagues in introducing this simple, bipartisan bill to ensure that Federal Savings Bonds are properly paid out. California should be able to notify owners of matured bonds who may have lost or misplaced their paperwork over the years. This legislation would do that, putting money back in the pockets of working families,” said Congresswoman Linda Sánchez.
"States have well-established unclaimed property programs and are uniquely positioned to lead the effort to reunite the $26 billion in matured, unredeemed savings bonds with the rightful owners. As the president of the National Association of State Treasurers, I would like to express our gratitude to the House members championing this important legislation. This is real money back in the pockets of our constituents," said David Damschen, Utah State Treasurer and President, National Association of State Treasurers.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.
Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.