Gift card escheat bill moves forward; ZIP codes provision irks merchants association

TRENTON – The biggest proponent of a bill that aims to repeal a 2010 law allowing the state to claim certain unspent gift card funds now says it may oppose the legislation in light of recent amendments.

The New Jersey Retail Merchant Association says a bill that repeals the inclusion of gift cards in the state’s unclaimed property law now fails to address a key provision the group was lobbying to oppose. The original law requires gift card sellers to obtain ZIP codes from buyers so the state could ultimately claim the value of unused cards after two years.

Without the ZIP code information, the value would ultimately revert to the company.

“Originally this bill was a complete repeal of the gift card law,” said John Holub, president of the Retail Merchant Association.

“Unfortunately, now the legislation has kind of been turned on its head,” he said, explaining it would be “implementing its most onerous provision” of the original law.

“Our only concern is this bill would implement a ZIP code collection requirement,” Holub said. “We remain firm in our opposition to the ZIP code collection.”

The association argues the provision would add a “significant expense for retailers” if implemented, Holub said.

Despite objections from the association, which lobbied for the legislation to be introduced this session, the bill was released from the Assembly Budget Committee Friday.