What is the state attorney general's opinion regarding remitting small overpayments to the local treasurer's office and how does it affect JIS?

Per RCW 63.29.130, effective July 22, 2007, the maximum payment the court can retain is $10.  See Answer: Maximum overpayment court can retain.

NOTE: ESSB 5531 – Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act of the 2022 Washington State Legislative Session struck this statute effective January 1, 2023.  However, SB 5392 – Overpayments on certain matters of the 2023 Washington State Legislative Session added the exact language back into law under RCW 63.30.270(3), effective July 23, 2023. 

Historical Information:

On July 13, 2006, the following information was sent to the ListServs for:

  • County Clerks
  • District and Municipal Court Administrators
  • JIS/SCOMIS Site Coordinators
  • JIS/DISCIS Site Coordinators

(Links to the referenced RCWs and to appropriate online documentation have been added to the memo reproduced below:)

"The [Washington State] Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and [Washington] State Auditor's Office (SAO) have recently reviewed the practice of remitting small overpayments to the local treasurer's office.  In addition, the SAO has received an opinion from the Washington State Attorney General's Office regarding this matter.  It was determined that state statutes regarding unclaimed property do not contain an exception providing for remitting small overpayments (BARS code 369.90.01) to the local treasurer's office. All abandoned property must be returned to the owner or remitted to the state in compliance with Chapter 63.29 RCW.

"RCW 63.29.010(12)(b) defines overpayments as intangible property. RCW 63.29.130 states intangible property unclaimed for more than two years is presumably abandoned. RCW 63.29.170 (1) requires that the person holding presumed abandoned property shall report annually to the department of revenue concerning the property.  RCW 63.29.170(5) provides that the holder of presumably abandoned property is not required to notify the apparent owner before abandonment if the 'property has a value of less than seventy-five dollars.' 

"To comply with these requirements and prevent a possible audit finding:

  1. The value in the Remit overpayments of $xx.xx and under to the Treasurer field on the Court Profile Maintenance (CPFM) screen must be changed to zero immediately.  From that point forward, accounts payable will be created by JIS whenever an overpayment is receipted, regardless of the amount of the overpayment.
  2. (Optional) When overpayments are received, follow normal court procedures for disbursement to the payer.

    If no disbursement to the payer is attempted or if the disbursement check is voided for some reason, the court has two options:
  3. The court may choose to track and retain presumably abandoned property until the property is actually abandoned, at which time it will be forwarded to the Department of Revenue.  In JIS, use the Payable Update (PUP) screen to place a hold code (HU=Hold as Unclaimed Money) on the overpayment payables and perform the annual Unclaimed Property procedures beginning July 1 of each year.

    Note: JIS will include the payable in the unclaimed property processing function when it has aged appropriately. It is not necessary to first remove the Hold code. When escheated, overpayments will be included in the payable to the Department of Revenue with other non-restitution escheated items.

  4. The other option is to immediately turn over the overpayments to the treasurer as presumably abandoned property using a manual process.  This option places tracking and reporting responsibility on the treasurer.

"Remember that the Trust Account Summary [for Superior Courts; for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction] or the Accounts Payable Report can be used to review overpayment payables.  Both reports include separate sections for each accounts payable type.

"The JIS Online Manual's Administrative Tasks section will be updated soon.  If your court is using outdated paper copies of any JIS manual, please discard them. 

"If you have any questions, please contact AOC Customer Services through the eService Center link available on the Inside Courts web site [select Topics: JIS Accounting, enter your request in the New Support Ticket area, and click Submit], or call (800) 442-2169, Option 2.

RN id: 1617