Non-Refundable Donations/Accounts

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coloradotechie-p40
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Non-Refundable Donations/Accounts

Postby coloradotechie-p40 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:47 pm

A question came up via refunding members money... I thought I'd ask here to see if I can better answer the question...

Specifically, I KNOW that tithing and fast offering donations are non-refundable, but what about payments to a specific missionary sub account or "other" accounts?

For example, we have an "Other" [I think now it is called "Authorized something or other"... it used to be just "Other:Scout Camp" ) account called scout camp. Because of a miscommunication, both the wife and the husband make a payment for their sons scout camp. It seems like it would be okay to refund the money?

And then, what about missionary sub-accounts? I saw this today:

Alan_Brown wrote:I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that the non-refundable nature of the donations is the key point.


In the past I've heard that the ward missionary account is non-refundable, but what about donations made to a sub-account under ward missionary, e.g. "Elder Smith"?

For example, what if a family (divorced parents + extended family) contributes more than $400/month on average and the missionary comes home and there is still money in the sub-account?

I know in the past this has happened in our ward, however, ward members contributed most of the funds and thus the extra was transferred to the "Ward Missionary" account.

What happens if the ward doesn't contribute any funds and the amount left in the sub-account after the missionary returns home was 100% paid by the family? (cases where this could happen would be if the extended family isn't keeping track of who is paying what amounts or the payments come in spurts and near the end of the mission a family member pays more money than what is needed).

In trying to keep an objective view about it, I feel like I can see both sides: sometimes extended families don't talk and it is likely that individuals from out-of-state wouldn't know the status of how much money has been contributed...so a large payment near the end of the mission would likely cause this issue and an overpayment would be likely in this situation (especially if the money comes in spurts).

Anyhow, the only thing I've heard is that "it is up to the Bishop". Is there any further guidance in these cases? (E.g. something in the handbook?)

Thanks~!

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:42 pm

coloradotechie wrote:For example, we have an "Other" [I think now it is called "Authorized something or other"... it used to be just "Other:Scout Camp" ) account called scout camp. Because of a miscommunication, both the wife and the husband make a payment for their sons scout camp. It seems like it would be okay to refund the money?


That is correct. This is covered in the Understanding and Using the “Other” Category training course on slides 5-9. For the Other account, returning unused funds to the donor is the right thing to do.

(BTW, it's "Other:Authorized Member Financed Activities" now.)

coloradotechie wrote:In the past I've heard that the ward missionary account is non-refundable, but what about donations made to a sub-account under ward missionary, e.g. "Elder Smith"?

For example, what if a family (divorced parents + extended family) contributes more than $400/month on average and the missionary comes home and there is still money in the sub-account?


You never refund donations to the Ward Missionary account. It doesn't matter whether the funds are tracked in a subcategory or in the main Ward Missionary category. In the MLS Software Manual, we read: "Contributions to the ward missionary fund that have not been used when a missionary is released should be kept in the ward missionary fund and used as needed. Never refund missionary contributions to a donor."

coloradotechie wrote:Anyhow, the only thing I've heard is that "it is up to the Bishop". Is there any further guidance in these cases? (E.g. something in the handbook?)


This one is definitely not up to the bishop. Refunding missionary contributions could cause major problems for the tax status of the Church and for the deductibility of member donations to the ward missionary fund.
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Postby lajackson » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:47 pm

coloradotechie wrote:Because of a miscommunication, both the wife and the husband make a payment for their sons scout camp. It seems like it would be okay to refund the money?


Yes. And the contribution that remains is Non Charitable.

coloradotechie wrote:In the past I've heard that the ward missionary account is non-refundable, but what about donations made to a sub-account under ward missionary, e.g. "Elder Smith"?


Not refundable.

coloradotechie wrote:. . . what if . . . there is still money in the sub-account?


No matter what the reason, contributions to the missionary fund are contributions to the Church, just the same as tithing or fast offering, and are not refunded.

It is in the current Handbook. (I am not where I can access the Handbook to give you the page number.) I think it is also on the donation slip.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:14 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:You never refund donations to the Ward Missionary account.


Question - can you call it an error an reclassify it?
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mfmohlma
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Postby mfmohlma » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:25 pm

lajackson wrote:No matter what the reason, contributions to the missionary fund are contributions to the Church, just the same as tithing or fast offering, and are not refunded.

It is in the current Handbook. (I am not where I can access the Handbook to give you the page number.) I think it is also on the donation slip.


Page 156, 2006 revision.

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Postby ecotim » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:32 pm

I had this in my unit when parents over paid for their sons mission. CHQ said that the finds can not be refunded, but can be moved to tithing or fast offerings, or any other donation. The members should be asked where they would like the funds transferred.

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gregwanderson
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Postby gregwanderson » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:50 pm

If this truly is acceptable within church policies, then I would think the original donations should be changed (in the View/Update Donations area) rather than creating transfers.

coloradotechie-p40
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Postby coloradotechie-p40 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 5:06 pm

GregAnderson wrote:If this truly is acceptable within church policies, then I would think the original donations should be changed (in the View/Update Donations area) rather than creating transfers.


I just spoke with LUS and they said re-classifying from a missionary donation to a tithing or fast offering donation is okay (but DO NOT refund the money). The representative on the phone told me that just going back to that donation batch and modifying the donation would be fine.

So, in all of this, would the best way to prevent this from happening in the future be to analyze ward missionary sub-account balances every month and then let the member(s) know immediately if they've gone over?

Is there a better way? Is it even a clerk's responsibility? (I ask because I wonder how members see this donation... do they see it as "paying for my child's mission" or do they see it as "donating to the Church as an equalized payment"?) I suppose an overpayment on a missionary sub-account would definitely bring this to the forefront...

In the end I'm just not sure how much I should be scrutinizing the ward missionary sub-account balances... usually we look at them once a month or once every other month... but we were never calculating the projected overpayment:

Code: Select all

Projected Overpayment = Amount in sub account MINUS (Months left TIMES $400 )
:)

Thanks~!

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gregwanderson
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Postby gregwanderson » Mon Nov 08, 2010 5:29 pm

Way back in the olden days when I was allowed to create Ward Mission sub-caterogies ( ;) ) I liked giving them names like "Elder Smith-July 2012". Then I knew that Elder Smith's final payment would be in July 2012. But since Elder Smith actually started his mission in August 2010 and he's not coming home until August 2012, his family might think they should donate in August 2012. But that would be a 25th payment!

Sometimes missionaries "finish" two or three weeks early or late, depending on when the transfers happen. And that might result in the ward being charged for only 23 months or being charged for 25 months. No matter what happens I would think it is completely appropriate for the clerk to track this and inform the person who is trying to assume responsibility for the 24 payments. If there are confidentiality issues then let the Bishop handle the informing. There might be some who would be offended to learn that they gave a "non-required" and non-refundable "extra" payment. And if that's a sensitive thing I'd rather have the Bishop take care of it.

Since I can't customize the sub-category names I have created a spreadsheet to track the missionaries from the Ward. I'm actually very pleased with it because, month by month, it tracks who's out, how many months they've been out and how much the ward "owes" per month for the total of missionaries serving. I guess it would be nice if such tracking were built into MLS. Like... maybe the expense could contain something like "Elder Wilford Smith Payment #5" as a part of its name.

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Postby funaddict-p40 » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:55 pm

In the case of an accidental overpayment, is it acceptable to have another missionary's family to make a payment to the family that overpaid, and then apply the overpayment to the second missionary's account? For example: Elder Smith comes home you find out that his family has overpaid by $300. Elder Jones' family pays $300 to the Smith family and $100 to the Ward Missionary account towards Elder Jones' mission. You then apply the $300 overpayment to Elder Jones. The Smiths get their $300 back and Elder Jones has $400 applied to his account.

Also, is it possible to get that 25th payment that was taken out of the Ward missionary fund credited back? We've had 3 missionaries return and 2 were charged for 25 payments. Neither of them extended their mission call past the standard 24 months. Another missionary gave his farewell talk today, (Nov. 14) but I noticed his $400 was already taken out on Nov. 4.

Thanks,
Alan


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