Surplus missionary funds

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aclawson
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Surplus missionary funds

Postby aclawson » Sun May 27, 2012 8:06 am

We have an elder who is finishing up his service with a net positive balance in his account (Ward Missionary Fund:{elder}). At the same time we have another mission who is heading out to the MTC for whom there is financial need. Can the surplus be transferred from one ward missionary account to another ward missionary account?

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Sun May 27, 2012 11:20 am

aclawson wrote:We have an elder who is finishing up his service with a net positive balance in his account (Ward Missionary Fund:{elder}). At the same time we have another mission who is heading out to the MTC for whom there is financial need. Can the surplus be transferred from one ward missionary account to another ward missionary account?


Certainly that can be done. Once the first missionary finishes his service with a surplus, those surplus funds should be transferred to the Ward Missionary Fund (unspecified), since donated missionary funds cannot be returned, and more was donated and designated for him than can be used. And unspecified ward missionary funds can certainly be used to support any missionary in the ward, particularly one with financial need.

You can do this with two transfers (one to from Elder One to Ward Missionary, and another from Ward Missionary to Elder Two) or with one (directly from Elder One to Elder Two). It doesn't really matter -- the effect is the same.
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ecotim
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Postby ecotim » Sun May 27, 2012 12:40 pm

I had that a few years back, CHQ's instructions were to notify the family that donated the extra and ask them where they wish their funds to end. No refunds, so they can have it moved to Fast offerings, Tithing, or to another missionary. I am assuming that the returning missionaries were funded fully by the family. If he was funded by ward funds then yes as AEBrown suggested would be the course to follow.

daveywest
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Moving funds isn't necessary

Postby daveywest » Sun May 27, 2012 1:12 pm

It is not normally necessary to move funds between subcategories in the Ward Mission Fund. While the standard monthly deductions are taken from the individual missionary's subcategory, the ward is only accountable for the total overall ballance of the ward mission fund. Funds designated for a specific missionary should be deposited into the subcategory (i.e. donations from family), while other ward mission funds would go into the general ward mission fund.

By following this pattern, the bishop can eaisly identify which families are meeting their obligation to support a missionary, while keeping accurate records on who is being supported by the ward as a whole.

There is no need or purpose served by zeroing out a ward mission fund subcategory other than to create extra work for a clerk. Excess donations that may need category reassignment should be handled as suggested above.
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gregwanderson
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Postby gregwanderson » Sun May 27, 2012 2:04 pm

daveywest wrote:There is no need or purpose served by zeroing out a ward mission fund subcategory other than to create extra work for a clerk.


I disagree. In the past (up until the CUBS transition) it was technically optional to use ward missionary fund subcategories. Now that we have no control over creating or deleting these subcategories it's even more important that we manage them well. I used to audit other wards and sometimes I'd see leftover subcategories for missionaries who had already returned home, gone to school, got married, had children, etc. but there was still some small positive or negative balance that stayed behind for years. I'd say that within a couple of months of a missionary's return it is essential to make sure there's a zero balance in the subcategory and then uncheck the "active" box for that subcategory. This is not busywork for the clerk but should be considered a standard procedure. It's the only way to make outdated subcategories disappear as they should.

funaddict
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Postby funaddict » Sun May 27, 2012 3:16 pm

While you can't refund surplus donations made to the missionary fund, there is a workaround that can give the missionary or his family back their overpayment. If missionary A comes home and has inadvertantly overpayed by $400, you could transfer that surplus $400 to another actively serving missionary B, and then ask Missionary B's family to pay $400 to Missionary A. I wouldn't do this all on my own as the finance clerk, but I'd suggest it to the families involved and they can agree to do it if they choose. I think this would only be appropriate if Missionary A had paid for their entire mission, i.e., they had not used any ward mission funds during their mission.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Sun May 27, 2012 3:45 pm

funaddict wrote:While you can't refund surplus donations made to the missionary fund, there is a workaround that can give the missionary or his family back their overpayment. If missionary A comes home and has inadvertantly overpayed by $400, you could transfer that surplus $400 to another actively serving missionary B, and then ask Missionary B's family to pay $400 to Missionary A. I wouldn't do this all on my own as the finance clerk, but I'd suggest it to the families involved and they can agree to do it if they choose. I think this would only be appropriate if Missionary A had paid for their entire mission, i.e., they had not used any ward mission funds during their mission.


This approach sounds very risky from a tax perspective. I would urge extreme caution and consultation with legal and/or tax experts before embarking on this.
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funaddict
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Postby funaddict » Sun May 27, 2012 6:28 pm

aebrown wrote:This approach sounds very risky from a tax perspective. I would urge extreme caution and consultation with legal and/or tax experts before embarking on this.


OK, I'll recommend that they spend a couple hundred dollars with a CPA or a tax expert before they go ahead with the trade. I'm not trying to upset the apple cart, but I'm not talking about thousands of dollars here. My example was for $400, one months missionary support payment, which is about the maximum overpayment I'd expect to see. I would guess it would be something a lot more modest, like $5 to $50 or so. I'm not a tax expert but it seems like the "A" family that overpaid would only claim the amount that they actually paid, minus the refund. The "B" family would only claim the amount that they paid to the church, so they might miss out on a few dollars in their itemized deductions. Losing out on $400 for family "A" would probably be a bigger loss than the few dollars that the $400 would represent to family "B" toward their itemized tax deduction. If they didn't itemize, then it wouldn't matter. That's why I'd leave it up to the families to decide if they want to agree to do it.
I'm assuming that both families are honest in their tax reporting.

On a similar note, are donations to a missionary by another ward member supposed to be confidential? One sister in our ward came in and asked what the current balance was on her son's mission account. I printed up his account statement and gave it to her, and she was surprised to see that a couple in the ward had made several donations to his account. When she thanked the couple for their generosity, she said that the brother was kind of bent out of shape that she knew about it. I guess that was my fault, but I didn't know that he expected it to be confidential. Any thoughts?

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Sun May 27, 2012 7:22 pm

funaddict wrote:On a similar note, are donations to a missionary by another ward member supposed to be confidential? One sister in our ward came in and asked what the current balance was on her son's mission account. I printed up his account statement and gave it to her, and she was surprised to see that a couple in the ward had made several donations to his account. When she thanked the couple for their generosity, she said that the brother was kind of bent out of shape that she knew about it. I guess that was my fault, but I didn't know that he expected it to be confidential. Any thoughts?


All donations should be confidential. So if someone wants to know the balance of their son or daughter's account, it's best to just print a summary. Any details given to a donor should reflect only that donor's contributions.
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Postby lajackson » Sun May 27, 2012 8:53 pm

funaddict wrote:While you can't refund surplus donations made to the missionary fund, there is a workaround that can give the missionary or his family back their overpayment.


In my opinion it would be far better to allow the family to have the excess missionary contribution transferred to tithing or fast offering. This would still allow the family to benefit from the extra contribution, without involving other members in the process.


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