Donation Records and History under One Name

Discussions about the Online Donation system.
LarryBaxter
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Donation Records and History under One Name

Postby LarryBaxter » Sat Aug 08, 2015 5:33 am

Can someone confirm the following behavior of the new online donation system. I believe this is consistent with church practice for some time now, but since receipts were all on paper it may not have been apparent.
1. Donations will only be recorded by the church and reported to government authorities under one name. Specifically, a couple cannot make donations as a couple but must do so as one or the other individuals, or split the donation and do part under each individual. I believe this has been the case for many years now but it would not have been apparent to some people because of the way the receipts are commonly printed.
2. Donation records are only accessible to the person who made the donation. Specifically, one spouse cannot see what the other spouse has donated so, for example, if one spouse traditionally makes the donations for both, only that person will be able to see the records of the donations.
3. Printed receipts can (at the user option) include the name of both spouses on them.
If this is correct, some consideration might be given for how the money manager in a home might be able to submit donations under either name so the donations and the income on which they might be based are both under the correct name. The best method for this now appears to be having spouses share their login credentials, which is problematic if one of them has access by virtue of a calling to confidential materials or materials not generally available to members.

lajackson
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Re: Donation Records and History under One Name

Postby lajackson » Sat Aug 08, 2015 9:35 am

LarryBaxter wrote:Can someone confirm the following behavior of the new online donation system. I believe this is consistent with church practice for some time now, but since receipts were all on paper it may not have been apparent.

This has been true for several years now.

LarryBaxter wrote:1. Donations will only be recorded by the church and reported to government authorities under one name. Specifically, a couple cannot make donations as a couple but must do so as one or the other individuals, or split the donation and do part under each individual.

Correct, except that the Church does not report donations to government authorities. The member does that, normally because it is advantageous to their tax circumstances.

LarryBaxter wrote:2. Donation records are only accessible to the person who made the donation. Specifically, one spouse cannot see what the other spouse has donated so, for example, if one spouse traditionally makes the donations for both, only that person will be able to see the records of the donations.

This is correct.

LarryBaxter wrote:3. Printed receipts can (at the user option) include the name of both spouses on them.

This is also correct. This facilitates a couple using the receipt in filing a joint U.S. tax return, for example.

LarryBaxter wrote:If this is correct, some consideration might be given for how the money manager in a home might be able to submit donations under either name so the donations and the income on which they might be based are both under the correct name.

Any donation is tied to one membership record number, so this would not be possible under the current Church financial system. I can see here, however, that there may be quite a valid case for the ability of a spouse to donate to the "account of record" for them both, and for the other spouse to be able to see those contributions.

A spouse who normally handles the contributions may be temporarily away, and the other spouse desires to make the contribution for them both. A cleaner record would have one spouse being able to donate in the name of either, so that there is one record at the end of the year that represents them both. Otherwise, the couple has to round up two sets of donation records for the year for tax and other purposes.

This would be an excellent suggestion to provide at the Feedback links at the LDS.org site.

LarryBaxter wrote:The best method for this now appears to be having spouses share their login credentials, which is problematic if one of them has access by virtue of a calling to confidential materials or materials not generally available to members.

Sharing of login credentials should never happen, of course. A better approach would be for the spouses to share the donation information another way.

The spouse who makes the donation (even if it is intended for them both) is able to print a year to date report at any time. (Or one could login in and show the information onscreen to the other. Or a pdf could easily be created.) And as already mentioned, the annual statement for tax purposes is able to reflect both names. This was one of the very first changes made when financial contributions were tied to membership record numbers several years ago.

That said, I think I can see a good case for the need for access if one spouse makes the contribution and the other spouse prepares the tax return. And there may be other circumstances, as well. But under the present system, it appears they will just have to work together to gather the information when it is needed.

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gregwanderson
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Re: Donation Records and History under One Name

Postby gregwanderson » Sat Aug 08, 2015 3:26 pm

Suppose I were not doing donations online but, instead, was dealing with the Ward Clerk (and/or Assistant Ward Clerk-Finances) and I said, "Hey, could I have my wife's print-out because, you know, we both donate under her name?" Is it technically appropriate for the clerk to hand over that print-out to an adult other than the person whose name is on the print-out? (Suppose I never told the clerk whether or not to check that box which says to include the spouse's name on the print-out.) I guess what I'm asking is whether restricting a spouse from accessing the other's donation information is actually different online from what it is at the clerk's office?

russellhltn
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Re: Donation Records and History under One Name

Postby russellhltn » Sat Aug 08, 2015 5:50 pm

gregwanderson wrote:I guess what I'm asking is whether restricting a spouse from accessing the other's donation information is actually different online from what it is at the clerk's office?

Yes, there is a difference. A clerk is more likely to know what's going on with the couple. When a couple divorces, there's frequently a significant period of time when one should NOT have access to the other's information before the divorce becomes final and the marriage is removed from the records. That said, I'm not sure as it's entirely appropriate for the clerk to give out the information unless he knows that they have been donating as a couple.

I suppose if the church was motivated to make it happen, there would be a checkbox on the account that says "allow my spouse access". But I'm really not sure as there's a solid reason for doing so. I've seen the desire, but I'm not seeing a solid case for a need. The rare exception (such as death or deployment of a spouse) can be handled by going to the clerks' office. I don't think there's any problem with having it under two different names if they are filing a joint tax return (at least in the US).

I dug back into the messages and found this one that indicate that the feature that allowed MLS to have both names on the tax statement was removed for 2014. So at this point, MLS can't be set up to do joint donation or even joint print-outs. So I wouldn't get my hopes up for having any such feature show up on-line.
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elin
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Donations Option

Postby elin » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:38 am

The letter informing us of the online donations option was read yesterday. My husband and I do a join offering once a month. I use both of our names on the form that I fill out. However, we have different lds.org accounts, and my information does not show up in my account, and only in his account. I know that I can just submit under his, but wondered if there is a way to tie those two accounts together for this purpose. Thank you

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Re: Donations Option

Postby russellhltn » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:56 am

elin wrote:wondered if there is a way to tie those two accounts together for this purpose.

No.

elin wrote:I use both of our names on the form that I fill out.

And if you look over the paperwork that the clerk gave you for 2014, you'll see just one name on it. Clerks were not able to combine names like they could before.
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gregwanderson
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Re: Donation Records and History under One Name

Postby gregwanderson » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:33 am

This will take some adjusting for many of us who want the online system to help us as much as the friendly, neighborhood ward clerk will help us. ;) Since the ward clerk knows you he's likely to print a report for whatever member of your family you want. But the online system won't do that. So you can either A) keep asking the clerk for the reports you want or B) coordinate with your spouse to get the report you want and/or C) make all of your donations under one name (such as the name of the person in the home who is most helpful at providing reports when the others want them).

In summary: Once the members realize what the online system will and won't do, they can change their behavior accordingly (and then, who wants to bet that after we all learn to do things a certain way the programmers will change it so it will do what we wanted it to do before we made the adjustment? I, of course, will not take that bet).

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aebrown
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Re: Donation Records and History under One Name

Postby aebrown » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:03 pm

gregwanderson wrote:...you can either A) keep asking the clerk for the reports you want or B) coordinate with your spouse to get the report you want and/or C) make all of your donations under one name (such as the name of the person in the home who is most helpful at providing reports when the others want them).

Option C is pretty easy (although I can certainly imagine some scenarios where it is not desirable), but in every case option B is extremely easy. Frankly, I'm having a hard time seeing how this is much of an issue at all, except for the fact that some people have a hard time with change. That seems particularly odd in this case, since the only people are affected are those who are embracing the change of using the online donations system.

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gregwanderson
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Re: Donation Records and History under One Name

Postby gregwanderson » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:51 pm

aebrown wrote:Frankly, I'm having a hard time seeing how this is much of an issue at all, except for the fact that some people have a hard time with change. That seems particularly odd in this case, since the only people are affected are those who are embracing the change of using the online donations system.

Agreed. And I want to keep showing respect for the clerks. Now, whenever I donate online, I have the specific thought that "When I do this online, it means that two guys can go home from church one minute earlier on Sunday. And if 60 ward members do this then..." And when I figure out how to manage the reports on my own I save them that trouble too.

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Re: Donation Records and History under One Name

Postby russellhltn » Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:40 pm

aebrown wrote:I'm having a hard time seeing how this is much of an issue at all, except for the fact that some people have a hard time with change.

I see two issues. One, in the past, some women, particularly stay-at-home moms weren't happy that there was no paper showing their name on the tithing reports. They wanted the paper to reflect their financial partnership and not just name one individual.

The second possibility is that they want more "openness" in their financial dealings. They may have joint banking accounts, maybe even joint email accounts. If only one can access the information, then it becomes like a "secret" and doesn't feel right to them.

I understand the desire, some rooted in emotional considerations, but I'm not sure as there is an answer. I think this is beyond developer discretion - it would have to be directed/approved by the Brethren. Perhaps the women should write to the General Relief Society Presidency to persuade the Brethren. :mrgreen:
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