Adjustment request from Finance Support

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yacoubean-p40
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Adjustment request from Finance Support

Postby yacoubean-p40 » Mon Nov 24, 2008 1:07 pm

This is a little complicated, so bear with me. Here is a breakdown of how we got to this adjustment request:

1. One of our weekly deposits was $30 off according to the bank. The bank had a $30 credit, so the assumption is that the deposit was $30 short.
2. I compared the bank's deposit report that came back in the letter with the my deposit records, and I could find no errors.
3. I called our assigned bank reconciler in SLC, and after reviewing the issue I was told to put an anonymous $30 donation into Tithing, and then if a member tells us that they are $30 short during tithing settlement, we could change this anonymous donation to that member.
4. I adjusted the batch in question, adding the $30 anonymous donation.
5. I got an email from Finance support with this message: "The adjustment needs to be minused (-) from tithing and credited (+) back to other. It was originally minused from other. Please reverse this twice or you will be out of balance."

I know how to do transfers between accounts like Budget and Other, but I am not sure how to make the adjustment in step 5. Should I delete the anonymous donation from the original batch, and then create a new one for $30 to Other? That doesn't seem right.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon Nov 24, 2008 1:36 pm

yacoubean wrote:This is a little complicated, so bear with me. Here is a breakdown of how we got to this adjustment request:

1. One of our weekly deposits was $30 off according to the bank. The bank had a $30 credit, so the assumption is that the deposit was $30 short.
2. I compared the bank's deposit report that came back in the letter with the my deposit records, and I could find no errors.
3. I called our assigned bank reconciler in SLC, and after reviewing the issue I was told to put an anonymous $30 donation into Tithing, and then if a member tells us that they are $30 short during tithing settlement, we could change this anonymous donation to that member.
4. I adjusted the batch in question, adding the $30 anonymous donation.
5. I got an email from Finance support with this message: "The adjustment needs to be minused (-) from tithing and credited (+) back to other. It was originally minused from other. Please reverse this twice or you will be out of balance."

I know how to do transfers between accounts like Budget and Other, but I am not sure how to make the adjustment in step 5. Should I delete the anonymous donation from the original batch, and then create a new one for $30 to Other? That doesn't seem right.


From the way you are referring to the bank, I assume you are not on deposit concentration, but that is an important point. Do you have a local bank account (you get a statement from the local bank each month), or do you use deposit concentration (you don't actually have an account at the local bank)?

It's not clear to me which direction the error occurred, and the communications from Finance Support don't help.

In statement 1, you say that the bank had a $30 credit. If that is true, then the amount deposited at the bank would be $30 more than the amount of the donation batch in MLS. For example, in MLS the batch total was $1000, but you deposited $1030 at the bank. The Church would then withdraw $1000 from the bank (since that is what you transmitted), which would leave a $30 credit at the bank.

But you then said the deposit was $30 short. Generally when I hear someone say a deposit is $30 short, they mean they gave the bank $30 less than the amount on the deposit slip. So that's a bit confusing, but you go on to say that the correction was to add a donation to the MLS batch, which would be a second point in favor of the bank deposit being more than the MLS.

Have you received the CUFS that describes this transaction? If so, you need to check into the statement made by Finance support: "It was originally minused from Other." Do you see this on your CUFS? Is there an actual transaction of a negative $30 amount in Other? That doesn't seem to match what you said earlier about there being a $30 credit.

Without more details, it's tough to give specific advice, but you definitely need to examine:

  • The amount on your copy of the bank deposit slip
  • The amount credited by the local bank for that deposit (assuming you have a local bank account)
  • The donation batch total in CUFS
  • The amount on your CUFS for that deposit
  • Any amounts on the CUFS related to this deposit (most likely a $30 credit or debit in Other)

If your description is correct, then it sounds to me like the reconciler gave you good advice, but Finance Support misunderstood your situation. But there are some inconsistencies in the story that make me wonder. If you can't figure this out with confidence on your own, I would call Finance Support to work this out before I would act on that message from instructing you to back out your correction twice.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:01 pm

I'm more curious about where the $30 came from. I know you said you could find no errors, but unless the bank just decided to give you $30, there has to be a trail in the numbers somewhere. I know in my stint as Finance Clerk, I had my share of going around and around until I could figure out what happened. At nimum I think you should be able to pin down if this was a discrepancy in cash or checks.

Even if you can get past this adjustment, it's likely to come back and haunt you when the real situation comes to light.

One thing that could have happened: it's the bank's job to read the handwritten checks and add the amount to the string of OCR-able digits at the bottom. As with any human endeavor, errors do happen. (Some people's handwriting doesn't help.) This would have caused the bank to process the check for a different amount then which it was written. $30 could easily be explained by "fat fingering" and hitting the wrong row on the 10-key keypad.
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yacoubean-p40
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Postby yacoubean-p40 » Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:00 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:From the way you are referring to the bank, I assume you are not on deposit concentration, but that is an important point. Do you have a local bank account (you get a statement from the local bank each month), or do you use deposit concentration (you don't actually have an account at the local bank)?


No, we don't have a local bank account.

Alan_Brown wrote:But you then said the deposit was $30 short. Generally when I hear someone say a deposit is $30 short, they mean they gave the bank $30 less than the amount on the deposit slip. So that's a bit confusing, but you go on to say that the correction was to add a donation to the MLS batch, which would be a second point in favor of the bank deposit being more than the MLS.


I am not positive what happened, because the bank deposit statement that came back in the letter showed a $30 credit, and I believe this means that our deposit was $30 less than the actual deposit amount.

Alan_Brown wrote:Have you received the CUFS that describes this transaction? If so, you need to check into the statement made by Finance support: "It was originally minused from Other." Do you see this on your CUFS? Is there an actual transaction of a negative $30 amount in Other? That doesn't seem to match what you said earlier about there being a $30 credit.


I am not at the church right now, but I am pretty sure that the CUFS showed a $30 deduction against Other, because I have had a temporary $30 adjustment in my monthly reconciliations while I have tried to resolve this.

Alan_Brown wrote:Without more details, it's tough to give specific advice, but you definitely need to examine:

  • The amount on your copy of the bank deposit slip
  • The amount credited by the local bank for that deposit (assuming you have a local bank account)
  • The donation batch total in CUFS
  • The amount on your CUFS for that deposit
  • Any amounts on the CUFS related to this deposit (most likely a $30 credit or debit in Other)


I will check these things, thanks.

Alan_Brown wrote:If your description is correct, then it sounds to me like the reconciler gave you good advice, but Finance Support misunderstood your situation. But there are some inconsistencies in the story that make me wonder. If you can't figure this out with confidence on your own, I would call Finance Support to work this out before I would act on that message from instructing you to back out your correction twice.


I actually called Finance Support last Wednesday night because I was confused by this message. The person I talked to was also confused, and asked me to call my reconciler again. However, calling them is very difficult for me because I can't take time off work right now, and the only time to call them is during business hours. This is why I decided to post my question here. I think I will have to go back to the donation slips, and between those and the MLS records, see if I can find any discrepancy.

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Postby yacoubean-p40 » Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:07 pm

RussellHltn wrote:I'm more curious about where the $30 came from. I know you said you could find no errors, but unless the bank just decided to give you $30, there has to be a trail in the numbers somewhere. I know in my stint as Finance Clerk, I had my share of going around and around until I could figure out what happened. At nimum I think you should be able to pin down if this was a discrepancy in cash or checks.

Even if you can get past this adjustment, it's likely to come back and haunt you when the real situation comes to light.

One thing that could have happened: it's the bank's job to read the handwritten checks and add the amount to the string of OCR-able digits at the bottom. As with any human endeavor, errors do happen. (Some people's handwriting doesn't help.) This would have caused the bank to process the check for a different amount then which it was written. $30 could easily be explained by "fat fingering" and hitting the wrong row on the 10-key keypad.


I do want to get this resolved, so that my year end audit is clean. My first assumption was that the bank made a typo, like you suggested, but the reconciler didn't seem to think that was the case. Maybe it's because like you said...they'd be giving us $30. I have done a lot of research on this, but I might have been looking in the wrong places.

By the way, I like your signature about binary. :)

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:38 pm

yacoubean wrote:I am not at the church right now, but I am pretty sure that the CUFS showed a $30 deduction against Other, because I have had a temporary $30 adjustment in my monthly reconciliations while I have tried to resolve this.


Hmmmm. I think the procedure still is to deduct any bounced donation checks against "other" until the clerk is able to notify CHQ what the proper categories are.

I wonder if the two things (the donation batch and the Other account) are related?

Did someone slip in a "replacement" check into the deposit without processing it as a new donation?

Edit: Along the same lines, I wonder if a member added an extra $30 to their check to cover the prior bounced check and didn't show that in their donation slip. If the people doing the weekly donations weren't careful or followed incorrect procedure, they might have missed that.

At any rate, a returned donation check and it's replacement is the only way I can connect an unknown old $30 debit from "other" with a $30 credit in a later deposit.

Edit2: If I happen to be right, there's some training issues that need to be dealt with, but let's first test the theory.
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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:56 pm

yacoubean wrote:I am not positive what happened, because the bank deposit statement that came back in the letter showed a $30 credit, and I believe this means that our deposit was $30 less than the actual deposit amount.

I am not at the church right now, but I am pretty sure that the CUFS showed a $30 deduction against Other, because I have had a temporary $30 adjustment in my monthly reconciliations while I have tried to resolve this.


Thanks for the details. But the terms you are using are still confusing. What do you mean by "our deposit" and "actual deposit"? Those are ambiguous terms. It would help if you would use terms like "MLS Donation Batch Total" (the amount recorded in MLS, which must also be the figure that was transmitted to the Church) and "bank deposit amount" (the amount of actual cash and checks deposited at the bank) and perhaps "amount on the bank deposit slip" (which really should match the MLS Donation Batch Total).

I'm guessing from all the other clues that you didn't actually have a $30 credit at the bank, but rather a shortage. So your statement "our deposit was $30 less than the actual deposit amount" would mean that the bank deposit amount was $30 less than the MLS Donation Batch total. This theory would be confirmed by the statement from Financial Support that the amount was "minused from Other" and by your statement that "the CUFS showed a $30 deduction against Other."

When you make a deposit where the bank deposit amount is less than the MLS Donation Batch, the Church charges your Other account for the difference. In this case you would see an entry on your CUFS with a notation something like "Deposit less than call" and a negative $30 in the Other account.

If this is indeed what happened, then the message you got from Financial Support is correct. In your attempt to correct the problem, you added $30 to the MLS Donation Batch, but this made the problem worse. Now you would be off by $60. So you would need to undo that change to the Donation Batch.



Then the question remains, what to do about the $30 you are short.
  1. If it was indeed a bank error, there should be some hope that when the bank did their final reconciliation of all their deposits that day, they were off by $30, and they will be grateful to you for pointing out where they went wrong and they will credit your account for the $30, and then you can call Clerk Support and explain that and they will make the adjustment to your Other category.
  2. If you made an error preparing the deposit, then you might be able to go through the deposit slips carefully and determine where the error is and adjust that donation (to make it $30 less). That would be the simplest solution, but it's unlikely that would be the error.
  3. If you somehow dropped a check or $30 cash that didn't get in the deposit bag, the solution is trickier. Where is that money? This seems unlikely, but if you find that money you need to deposit it at the bank and call Financial Support to tell them.
  4. If you can't determine any of the above to be the case, then you are just plain $30 short, and whether it is a bank error or your error, you have to come up with $30. You can't deduct it from any of the donations, because you have not been able to determine which, if any of the donations is incorrect. So I would seek guidance from Financial Support, but I'm guessing you'll have to write a check from Budget funds, and deposit it in the bank -- not making an MLS donation batch -- and tell Financial Support the money is at the bank so that they can erase your deficit in the Other category.

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Postby yacoubean-p40 » Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:01 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:Then the question remains, what to do about the $30 you are short.
  1. If it was indeed a bank error, there should be some hope that when the bank did their final reconciliation of all their deposits that day, they were off by $30, and they will be grateful to you for pointing out where they went wrong and they will credit your account for the $30, and then you can call Clerk Support and explain that and they will make the adjustment to your Other category.
  2. If you made an error preparing the deposit, then you might be able to go through the deposit slips carefully and determine where the error is and adjust that donation (to make it $30 less). That would be the simplest solution, but it's unlikely that would be the error.


Ok, I did a lot more research on this yesterday during Tithing Settlement. Here are three things I found:
1. I compared the original donation slips one by one to the US Bank deposit report (not the MLS report) that they sent us along with their letter. All of the slips that were checks (the cash part of the MLS donation report matches the US Bank report) were found in our Bank's deposit report.
2. I compared the checks list in the MLS donation report with the US Bank deposit report, and all of the checks matched.
3. On a whim, I added up all of the checks in the US Bank deposit report, and then added their cash total in the US Bank report. This resulted in the same deposit total that our original MLS donation report showed. To reiterate, if I ignore the $30 entry in the US bank report that is marked as "CR" (presumably a credit), and add up all the checks and cash, I get the same total as my MLS batch report.

So if I am interpreting this evidence correctly, it appears that US Bank made an error.

However, there is one other thing that may relate, but I don't think so. This donation batch had 2 bounced checks from the same donor. One of them was $30 and the other was $20. In the US Bank report they have a $30 and $20 listing under the checks WITHOUT a check number. However, these two returned checks appeared as deductions to our Other account like normal, and I cleared the checks using normal procedures, and then we received the $30 and $20 credit back to our Other account (all normal procedures for returned checks). But I am not sure if the $30 "bank error" is just coincidentally the same amount as one of these returned checks, or if this might be the root of the problem.

So I still don't know how to resolve this. I can go back into the original batch and remove the anonymous $30 tithing donation that Susan (our bank reconciler) instructed me to add (referenced in my initial post). But I still have the $30 deduction from the Other account that showed up a month after this reported "error" in our deposit. I should clarify, this $30 "bank error" deduction is IN ADDITION to the $20 and $30 returned check deductions that I mentioned earlier (both of which were resolved).

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Postby russellhltn » Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:00 am

At this point I'm guessing the bank improperly gave you a $30 credit, then later took it back causing it to be processed like a bounced check. (Pulled from the Other account.)

I think your choices are: Argue with SLC to get the other account straighted out -or- create an anonymous donor (or call it "Bank Error"?) and then treat it like a bounced check and cancel it.

That would then make your deposit match the banks, fix your Other account, and otherwise make everyone happy.

I'd talk to SLC first. If they can get a handle on the situation and recommend a fix, follow that. If you end up going around in circles, then give the second method a try.
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Postby aebrown » Tue Dec 02, 2008 5:09 am

yacoubean wrote:3. On a whim, I added up all of the checks in the US Bank deposit report, and then added their cash total in the US Bank report. This resulted in the same deposit total that our original MLS donation report showed. To reiterate, if I ignore the $30 entry in the US bank report that is marked as "CR" (presumably a credit), and add up all the checks and cash, I get the same total as my MLS batch report.

So if I am interpreting this evidence correctly, it appears that US Bank made an error.

...

But I still have the $30 deduction from the Other account that showed up a month after this reported "error" in our deposit.


Your latest post makes it very clear that the bank received $30 more than was on the deposit slip you included with the original deposit (or at least, their records show that they received $30 more, whether or not that actually happened). I would assume that is why the bank's deposit report shows a $30 credit in addition to the items that you have verified you deposited.

It could be that the bank made an error, creating a $30 credit out of thin air, or it could be that you actually deposited $30 more than your deposit slip indicated. At this point, I don't think you can tell which of those events happened, and it really doesn't matter -- your process for correcting the problem will be the same.

And yet you see a $30 deduction from the Other account on your CUFS. I don't see how that can possibly be right. There should be a $30 addition (credit) to the Other account if the deposit was more than the MLS batch total you transmitted. The way I see it, the Church made a mistake and created a debit rather than a credit on the CUFS. That's why your first attempt to correct the error was perceived by someone at the Finance Department as being in the wrong direction.

In any case, I agree with RussellHltn that you need to talk to Clerk Support about this. You seem to have all the facts gathered together, so someone at Clerk Support just needs to work through the issue and make appropriate corrections.


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