News & Insights

Delaware Secretary of State Announces Critical Update on Voluntary Disclosure Agreement Program

Tax Development Oct 02, 2017

Ryan Unclaimed Property Solutions Help Businesses Address Compliance End-to-End

In a market underscored by continual regulatory and statutory changes, a new development has emerged in the unclaimed property industry that will transform how many businesses view and manage their compliance needs. On September 29, 2017, the Delaware Secretary of State announced that companies identified as potentially non-compliant with the state’s unclaimed property law will receive letters notifying them of their status and the opportunity to enter the Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (VDA) Program (“Program”).

The Secretary of State VDA Program was developed to help businesses identify and efficiently settle past-due unclaimed property liability for prior years—enabling holders to achieve compliance and mitigate the risk of an unclaimed property audit. Businesses that complete the Program and continue to meet their annual reporting obligations are protected against a future audit by the Delaware Department of Finance. Companies that have not enrolled in the Program may soon face a critical decision when it comes to addressing their compliance position in Delaware.

In this recent announcement, the Delaware Secretary of State indicated that businesses receiving letters will have 60 days from the notice mailing to enter the VDA Program or be referred to the State Escheator for examination. For companies that opt not to participate in a VDA and are subsequently selected for audit, the Secretary of State will have no legal authority to accept those businesses into the Program.    

Closely following the Secretary of State’s announcement was the release of Delaware’s new regulations, which take effect October 11, 2017 and were adopted in support of the state’s unclaimed property statute. These regulations are outlined in the Department of Finance Abandoned or Unclaimed Property Reporting and Examination Manual, which was published in the Delaware Register of Regulations on October 1, 2017. Developed with input from the Secretary of State, the manual outlines Delaware holder reporting requirements and compliance examination guidelines. To ensure fair and uniform application, Delaware plans to implement these regulations consistently across all holders.

With these new regulations in place, companies under audit must consider the strategic benefits of remaining in their existing audit versus entering the Expedited Audit or VDA Program. Based on the new regulations, businesses must decide upon a strategy by December 10, 2017. For more information about the regulations, visit Alert: Delaware Department of Finance Issues Revised Regulations.

Recognizing the impact of evolving legislative changes on the unclaimed property landscape, Ryan continues to provide educational tools and forums to enable the exchange of insights and thought leadership. This includes the Firm’s upcoming WebEx, “The Perils of Non-Compliance,” which will be broadcast on Wednesday, October 4th at 1 p.m. ET. Hosted by Jeff Henshall, Principal, Ryan Abandoned and Unclaimed Property, the WebEx will address the importance of accurate and effective reporting while leveraging best practices to mitigate the likelihood of an unclaimed property audit. For more information about this event, visit The Perils of Non-Compliance.