BizParentz Foundation

Supporting families of children working in the entertainment industry

California Coogan Law

The Coogan law is a California law named for child actor Jackie Coogan. Jackie was a very famous and busy actor in the 1920s and 1930s (adults today might know him as Uncle Fester in the Addams Family series).

When he became an adult, he found that despite making millions as a child, he was broke. His mother and step-father had used his earnings, which was legal at the time. As a result of his sad story, the original Coogan Law was passed in California in 1939.

Today, there are various versions of the Coogan law in effect around the nation and in Canada. The laws mandate that a percentage of a child actor's gross income be set aside for them in trust. In the states, the common percentage is 15%. In Canada, it is 25% after the child has made $5,000.

California's law is the most far-reaching and has been updated several times, most recently in 2004. It is the version used by most productions in the entertainment industry. For this reason, most of the information on this site is pertaining to CA, but parents should be aware that different laws may apply depending on where your child lives and works. New York, Louisiana, and New Mexico have fairly recent Coogan laws, and several more states are working on new legislation.

The Unclaimed Coogan List includes a list of the names of child actors who have had earnings withheld from them, but the earnings were not deposited.

Choosing Your Own Coogan Bank (Banking Survey) -- we update this survey regularly and it provides a wealth of information for you to wisely choose your own Coogan bank. There is info for other states as well, so this resource will help you no matter where you are!

BizParentz Bank Survey 9/2007

Understanding the Details -- Click on Coogan Quicktakes for an overview, then Coogan History for more info about how California's law evolved.

Coogan QuickTakes

Making Sure You Get the Money -- You'll need to learn to track your Coogan deposits to avoid losing money.  Click on the Coogan Tracking Form for help.

Coogan Tracking Form
Forms -- Here are some additional templates that might help you as you get organized.  Feel free to personalize them, and make them your own!
Change of Account
Receipt of Coogan
Statement of Trustee
Also, parents need to be aware that Coogan money often goes "missing" (unpaid) and does not make it to the child's bank account.  That is why careful tracking is necessary!  If you think your child may have unpaid Coogan money, be sure to check the Unclaimed Coogan List.
From SB210, enacted in 2004
  1. You have 180 days from the first day you WORKED before the funds can be sent to Actor’s Fund. Section 6752 of the Family Code,(b)(9)(A) “If a parent, guardian, or trustee fails to provide the minor’s employer with a true and accurate photocopy of the trustee’s statement pursuant to Section 6753 within 180 days after the commencement of employment, the employer shall forward to The Actor’s Fund of America 15 percent of the minor’s gross earnings....”
  2. The employer only has 15 days to pay you the Coogan money if you did your job correctly. Section 6752 of the Family Code (d)(3): “The minor’s employer shall deposit 15 percent of the minor’s gross earnings pursuant to the contract within 15 days of receiving the trustee’s statement pursuant to Section 6753”.
  3. Actors Fund must pay imputed interest, but they can also charge reasonable fees. They can’t charge fees for the first year they are holding your money though. Section 6752(g) (1)(2) : “The beneficiary of an account held by The Actors Fund of America pursuant to this section shall be entitled to receive imputed interest....The Actors Fund of America may assess and deduct reasonable management, administrative, and investment expenses...including fees for initial set-up...No fees may be charged to any beneficiary’s account during the first year that the account is held by The Actor’s Fund of America.”
  4. This law creates a private escheat system (no State Unclaimed Funds). Section 6752 (i) “All funds received by The Actors Fund of America pursuant to this section shall be exempt from the application of the Unclaimed Property Law...”
  5. Your trustee statement must be attached to the work permit and it must say “Coogan Trust Account” on it. Section 1308.9 of the Labor Code, (a): “If the Labor Commissioner provides written consent pursuant to Section 1308.5 for the employment of a minor....that consent shall be void after the expiration of 10 business days from the date written consent was granted unless it is attached to a true and correct copy of the trustee’s statement evidencing the establishment on behalf of the minor of a “Coogan Trust Account” pursuant to Chapter 3....If the written consent is attached to a true and accurate copy of that trustee’s statement, the written consent shall be valid for a six month period.”

For more "how to" information, please also see our article:  Trust Accounts