Expense receipt question

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warick
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Expense receipt question

Postby warick » Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:50 am

I'm a fairly new finance clerk and have a basic question that I can't seem to find a good answer for. OK, it's two questions... but they are related!

First off, when an expense comes in such as a reimbursement for primary, I get the request and the receipt and I am good to go. However when I get a fast offering request, I get the request form and when it comes to rent assistance, that's all I get.

I don't want the family to suffer just because they didn't bring in something to show what their rent is, but then again, there's nothing to show that I am not writing a check for twice that of the rent... I trust my bishopric, but I usually trust that feeling you get when something is not right, and this feels wrong. Is this normal or do I need to help them understand what is needed in order to provide documentation for the check. They're pretty good at getting the receipt after paying the rent. This leads me to the next part of the question.

As I was making a folder for the next month and reviewing the records for the previous month, I find that I have transmission reports for check numbers that have no receipts nor do they have requests. They're just checks written by someone and signed by... someone.

So I guess I need to know:

1) Does a clerk need to sign for every check since the approval slip that MLS prints shows both Bishop and Clerk, or can the Bishop and a counselor sign?
2) Is there a way to find out who wrote or authorized the checks? All I have are check numbers and the fact they transmitted.
3) What's the policy, or where can I find the policy, on how to deal with such issues?

I ask only because I am meticulous with my record keeping and this is going to look really bad during an audit when I am asked who authorized the expenses, where the receipts are etc. I am not sure if everyone got their check or not as well.

Thanks for your help in advance!

BTW: We've a brand new bishopric and I don't have a way to contact the old Bishop due to the fact he moved... thus the new bishopric.

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Postby crislapi » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:16 am

warick wrote:First off, when an expense comes in such as a reimbursement for primary, I get the request and the receipt and I am good to go. However when I get a fast offering request, I get the request form and when it comes to rent assistance, that's all I get.

Documentation is required for every check - reimbursement request, receipt/invoice, and bishop's approval. This includes FO checks. I have struggled getting receipts. There are a couple options. First, there is a provision in the training for providing advances. I, too, don't want to delay assistance for lack of a receipt up front. With an advance, you give the money first and then obtain the receipt and leftover funds later. Since you should be sending the check to the landlord directly, some have included self addressed stamped envelopes along with the check and asked the landlord to mail back a receipt. There is a provision in the audit for how to handle expenses that do hot have a receipt (question 17):
Does each payment have proper documentation?
• Every payment and advance should have original receipts or invoices.
• A payment request document alone is not adequate documentation.
• If the original receipt or invoice is lost, the substitute documentation should include a written explanation with
the payment purpose, a description of what was bought or paid for, the date the payment was made, the
name of the person assisted (for payments from fast offerings), and proper approval. Such documentation
should be a rare exception. If several transactions are documented this way, mark this item “No.”
• Recipients of fast offerings should submit receipts to show how they spent funds given directly to them.
When possible, payments from fast offerings should be made directly to the providers of goods and
services rather than to persons receiving assistance.
warick wrote:As I was making a folder for the next month and reviewing the records for the previous month, I find that I have transmission reports for check numbers that have no receipts nor do they have requests. They're just checks written by someone and signed by... someone.

This is NOT ok. If you have other clerks or if the bishopric cuts checks, it is believable that some checks might have cleared without your knowledge, but again, EVERY check should have a signed reimbursement request stating the purpose and have supporting documentation (receipts). If one of these expenses is audited, it will be written up as an audit exception.

warick wrote:1) Does a clerk need to sign for every check since the approval slip that MLS prints shows both Bishop and Clerk, or can the Bishop and a counselor sign?
2) Is there a way to find out who wrote or authorized the checks? All I have are check numbers and the fact they transmitted.
3) What's the policy, or where can I find the policy, on how to deal with such issues?

1) The bishop and a counselor can sign. There is no provision whereby a clerk must sign each check
2) Yes, you can find out. Call LUS. They can contact the bank and get a copy of the check(s) and email them to the bishop.
3) The best place might be to go through the training for auditors at auditing.lds.org. Slide 21 mentions involving the stake audit committee chairman, who should then contact the Church Auditing Department (slide 27 of the Stake Audit Committee training).

I would strongly recommend you require all in your ward who handle expenses to review the online training "handling church expenses". I would include your stake clerk in the process. While I wouldn't jump to conclusions yet about what is going on, it sounds like some bad practices have developed in the ward that go against official church policies. You want to correct this as soon as possible.

warick wrote:I ask only because I am meticulous with my record keeping and this is going to look really bad during an audit when I am asked who authorized the expenses, where the receipts are etc. I am not sure if everyone got their check or not as well.

If any of these expenses are audited, they will be written up. The fact there are several like this is worrisome to me. Because audits are next month and you have a new bishopric, I would take advantage and have all who handle church finances review the online trainings. Part of the audit requires that all who handle church finances go through the pertinent online trainings every 12 months.
3. Has each of the bishopric members and clerks responsible for finances reviewed the financial training lessons found at auditing.lds.org?
The lessons are also in MLS at Help > Record-Keeping Training.
warick wrote:We've a brand new bishopric and I don't have a way to contact the old Bishop due to the fact he moved... thus the new bishopric.

A couple tricks, then. First, if the former bishop's records have moved to his new ward, you can try looking up his donor record. The address information now updates with the record even after they have moved. This way you can send him letters. Other options: his email and cell phone (if he had one) likely have not changed just because he moved. Finally, have your bishop or the stake clerk call LUS to obtain at the least his new ward. This is a serious enough lapse that I think you need to involve the former bishop to clean things up. Also, there had to be two signers on the check so if it wasn't you, one of the counselors could surely help resolve this.

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Postby jdlessley » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:52 am

warick wrote:First off, when an expense comes in such as a reimbursement for primary, I get the request and the receipt and I am good to go. However when I get a fast offering request, I get the request form and when it comes to rent assistance, that's all I get.
Every expense should have a receipt, invoice, or bill. Fast offering assistance payments for rent can use the lease agreement as the bill. This is a common practice, especially when there will be more than one recuring disbursement. If the lease agreement is used, make copies for each disbursement or at least a note stating where the lease agreement is located in the records.

If there is no lease agreement, receipt, invoice, or bill for past rent disbursements remind the bishop and the fast offering recipient that each disbursement must have proof of the expense is required and get the required documentation. As a last resort a hand filled out piece of paper from the fast offering recipient with all the pertinent information - date, payee, purpose, amount, fast offering recipient name - can be used to replace lost or missing receipts. But note that if this is done for several expenses the auditor will challenge the practice and there could be an audit exception. Of course the corrective action will be training for you and the bishopric about the need to have original receipts, invoices, or bills.

The requirement to have a receipt, invoice, or bill is stated on the audit checklist and in the on-line training, Handling Church Expenses.

warick wrote:As I was making a folder for the next month and reviewing the records for the previous month, I find that I have transmission reports for check numbers that have no receipts nor do they have requests. They're just checks written by someone and signed by... someone.
The procedures for handling expenses are found in the on-line training, Handling Church Expenses. Each expense reimbursement, properly processed, starts will the requestor filling out a reimbursement request. The form can be in any format and adapted to local needs. Sample forms are provided in the on-line training as well as in the wiki article Expenses. Attached to the form should be the original receipt, invoice, bill, or other proof of the expense(s). The audit checklist outlines the required documentation.

The bishop must approve all expense disbursements. This is evidenced by his signature on the invoice, bill, receipt, or payment request. The bishop’s signature on the MLS Detail Expense Report is adequate proof of his approval.

During an audit, the auditor will check for three pieces of documentation. The first is the reimbursement request. The second is the original invoice, bill, or receipt. The third is the check stub from the disbursement check. If any of those three are not there it will be an audit exception.

warick wrote:Does a clerk need to sign for every check since the approval slip that MLS prints shows both Bishop and Clerk, or can the Bishop and a counselor sign?
Checks must have two signatures. Who those two are can be any combination of those authorized to sign. The expense report will be signed by the bishop and the person who logged onto MLS to enter the expense, usually a clerk, but it could be a counselor.

warick wrote:Is there a way to find out who wrote or authorized the checks? All I have are check numbers and the fact they transmitted.
If all reports were properly printed following expense reimbursement processing, the expense report will have the name of at least one of the signers. Normally the person logging onto MLS and entering the expensese is one of the signers. Who the other is can only be determined by asking the one signer noted or from the check itself.

warick wrote:What's the policy, or where can I find the policy, on how to deal with such issues?
The audit checklist outlines the policy. The on-line training, Handling Church Expenses, also details the policies and procedures. Policies are also in Handbook 1.

warick wrote:BTW: We've a brand new bishopric and I don't have a way to contact the old Bishop due to the fact he moved... thus the new bishopric.
You and this new bishopric should review the on-line Record-Keeping and Audit Training. There is an audit question in the audit checklist that asks if the bishopric and the clerks have reviewed this training. Additional help is available at the wiki. Start with the Expenses article.
JD Lessley
Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?

warick
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Expenses

Postby warick » Sat Jul 30, 2011 3:10 pm

Thank you both for excellent answers, I feel better equipped to make a better argument in favor of proper documentation. This should make everyone's life easier.
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greggo
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Postby greggo » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:03 am

jdlessley wrote:Checks must have two signatures. Who those two are can be any combination of those authorized to sign.


I suspect everyone is aware, but just in case, I wanted to point out that, if the check if made out to one of those authorized to sign or any of their immediate family members (even the bishop), they shouldn't be one of the signers.

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Postby aebrown » Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:40 am

greggo wrote:I suspect everyone is aware, but just in case, I wanted to point out that, if the check if made out to one of those authorized to sign or any of their immediate family members (even the bishop), they shouldn't be one of the signers.


Your statement does not match what is in Handbook 1, section 14.6.7. That statement is correct for fast offering checks (see Handbook 1, section 5.2.4). For all other checks, however, it's correct that a person should not sign a check if he is the payee, but there is no restriction on signing checks for any other payee, even immediate family members.
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Postby bedone » Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:02 pm

We were having the same problem in our ward for rent assistance, and here's what we do.

We give the Fast Offering recipient a document listing the Payee, check number, and amount, and says something like "I acknowledge receipt of this check to be used for paying rent on (address/apartment number)." Below this there is a space for the payee's representative to sign and date. We instruct the member we are assisting to try first to obtain a normal receipt from the payee. If the payee is not able to provide a receipt we ask the member to have them sign and date the second part of our document, and the member is to return it to us.

When we give the Fast Offering recipient the check, we also have both them and the Bishop sign a document that says something along the lines of: "I, (name) acknowledge receipt of check# (number), made out to (payee), to be used for paying my rent." We keep this in case the member never returns a receipt or our other document.

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Postby greggo » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:25 am

aebrown wrote:Your statement does not match what is in Handbook 1, section 14.6.7. That statement is correct for fast offering checks (see Handbook 1, section 5.2.4). For all other checks, however, it's correct that a person should not sign a check if he is the payee, but there is no restriction on signing checks for any other payee, even immediate family members.


When you say "that statement," to which statement are you referring? Can you be specific on restrictions on signers for FO checks vs. others?
I don't have access to Handbook 1, so I can't refer to it directly.

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Postby aebrown » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:33 am

greggo wrote:When you say "that statement," to which statement are you referring? Can you be specific on restrictions on signers for FO checks vs. others?
I don't have access to Handbook 1, so I can't refer to it directly.


I quoted your statement, so I thought it was pretty clear. Specifically, you said "if the check if made out to one of those authorized to sign or any of their immediate family members (even the bishop), they shouldn't be one of the signers."

The part of the statement that is not correct is where you say that an authorized signer cannot sign a check made out to an immediate family member. There is no such restriction for non-FO checks; the only restriction is that he can't sign a check made out to him personally.

I don't have the Handbook with me to clarify the precise policy on FO checks at this time.
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Postby PNMarkW2 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:04 pm

aebrown wrote:The part of the statement that is not correct is where you say that an authorized signer cannot sign a check made out to an immediate family member. There is no such restriction for non-FO checks; the only restriction is that he can't sign a check made out to him personally.


I agree the handbook offers no such restriction. That said, I would suggest that best practice would be not to sign any check made out to the signer, anyone in his family, anyone in his extended family, or anyone living in his home, regardless of the account the funds are drawn from. This is policy in our ward and serves us well to avoid even the appearance of wrongdoing.
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Portland Oregon Stake

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