Church expenses are generally paid by check or direct debit from the ward or stake account. Financial clerks should be familiar with all appropriate procedures as listed in the online training lessons, MLS help file, and financial audit instructions.
The Church-produced training lesson Handling Church Expenses covers paying for Church activities, supplies and fast offering assistance.
- All expenses must be approved (in writing) by the bishop or stake president
- All expenses are paid from the unit's checking account, either by check or direct debit; no other accounts are to be maintained
- Budget expenditures should follow the Budget Allowance program
- Other account expenditures should follow the guidelines for the Other category
- Fast offering expenses should follow the fast offering guidelines
Follow these steps to process expenses:
- Receive payment request from Bishop
- Make sure the bishop has approved each expense
- Make sure each payment request has supporting documentation
- Enter the expenses information into MLS
- Send expense information to the administrative office
- Obtain authorized signatures
- File expense documentation
Beginning with MLS 3.4.1, MLS shows the status of each check under View/Update Expenses. The various status possibilities are:
|Status||Description||Change Amount||Void||Change Category|
|Not Printed||Initial status of disbursement after user inputs into MLS||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Not Sent||Disbursement authorized and printed in MLS but not sent to HQ||No||Yes||Yes|
|Sent||Disbursement recorded in MLS and sent to HQ||No||Yes||Yes|
|Issued||Disbursement recorded in MLS and received by HQ||No||Yes||Yes|
|Cleared or Approved||Disbursement cleared bank and matched at HQ||No||No||Yes|
|Escheated||Sent to HQ for escheatment purposes||No||No||Yes|
|Recorded||Non-check disbursement recorded||No||No||Yes|
There are no standard forms for requesting reimbursement. Each unit should create a form that allows the requester to document the purpose of the expense, to specify the MLS category to be charged, to record the authorized signatures, and to attach the appropriate receipts. Some sample forms that could be copied, modeled, or adapted:
- Generic Financial Authorization Form Suitable for use within ward, branch, stake, district, etc. (uses generic term "pastor" as in 6th Article  of Faith). Includes fillable fields within .pdf file that automatically shrink text on a line before it can overfill (uses American spelling). (Electronically fillable portable document format)
- Ward Reimbursement Request or Expense Authorization Form. Simple form, formatted with two half sheets on a single portrait page. (Word document)
- Ward Auxiliaries Reimbursement Form. Has check boxes for specific Fast offering, Budget, and Other subcategories. (Word document)
- Ward Reimbursement Request or Expense Authorization. Uses numerical codes for budget subcategories. Two half sheets on a portrait page. (Word document)
- Expense Authorisation. From New Zealand (uses British spelling). Two portrait half sheets on a single landscape page. (Word document)
- Ward Reimbursement Request or Expense Authorization Form. Quite similar to the first form. (Word document)
- Budget Advance & Reimbursement Form. Two separate forms, one for Budget Advance, the other for Reimbursement. Designed for stake use, but can be adapted to ward use. From UK (uses British spelling). (Excel spreadsheet)
- Reimbursement Request or Expense Authorisation Form Includes sample use of form. From UK & Ireland MSR Office (uses British spelling). (Excel spreadsheet)
- Stake Reimbursement Form Single page reimbursement form for Stake (Word Document)
- Stake Reimbursement Form Single page reimbursement form for Stake (PDF FILLABLE)
- Main article: Printing checks
Emergency check writing procedures
Stake reimbursable expenses
In the US and Canada, there are several categories at the stake level for expenses charged to the Other account, that are reimbursed by Church Headquarters. They are all subcategories of "Reimbursed Expenses."
- Computer Equipment Repair is no longer used. Under the 18 Aug 2009 policy, the FM group is now responsible for any computer repairs. Under the 27 Mar 2005 policy, this category was used for any repairs to a computer that were authorized by the FM Group.
- Local Telephone Line is used for all telephone bills for the units in the stake. It does not include expenses for Meetinghouse Internet.
- Missionary Housing is used to reimburse members who provide housing to full-time missionaries as instructed in the 31 May 2007 instructions to stake and mission presidents titled: "Housing Missionaries with Members."
- Missionary Travel
- Priesthood Leader Phone/Travel is used for any expenses incurred by local leaders for travel and telephone. Specific policies govern the use of this category, which are detailed on form #31563, available on https://store.lds.org when a stake leader or clerk is logged in. That form should be filled out and filed with the expense documentation whenever this category is used.
- Scout Registration is to be used for registration fees for the Boy Scouts in the stake.
- <state/country> Tax is used in Utah, North Carolina, and Canada to record the state sales tax or PST/GST.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What do I do if MLS tells me that a check number is already in use?
A: Determine how that check number was used:
- Go to View/Update expenses.
- Set the Date range to All.
- Click on the Reference column to sort by check number.
- Find the check number the error was shown for and see how many of the consecutive check numbers have already been used.
- Cut out the signature part out of the checks and destroy them. Then keep the rest of the checks for the audit.
- Enter the expenses using the next available hard check number.
Q: What if a check prints on the wrong hard check number?
A: If the check is in hand, void the check in MLS and reissue a new one. If the check has been handed out and cashed, skip the number in MLS and then write VOID on the hard check that MLS used inadvertently.
Q: How do I enable the tax field?
A: There is no longer a separate tax field. Instead sales tax is entered as part of the expense (for Utah, North Carolina, and Canada). In this way, the expense is broken up into one or more budget categories, and then a reimbursable tax portion (the category is "Reimbursed Expenses:Utah Sales Tax" for Utah, and similar names for other areas).
Q: How do I change a category for an expense?
A: You must change the category in MLS. To change the category of the expense in MLS, do the following:
- Log in to MLS.
- On the Finances menu, click More.
- On the Expenses menu, click View/Update Expenses.
- In the Report field, click the down arrow and choose the type of report you want to view on the screen.
- In the Date Range field, click the down arrow and choose the range of dates you will find the expense in.
- Click the reference number of the expense you want to change the category of.
- Click the Category field, and then click the magnifying glass icon.
- In the list that appears, choose the correct category for this expense, and then click OK.
- Click Save.
- In the window that appears, type the reason for this adjustment, and then click OK.
- Click OK.
- Further information: System Options (MLS)#Finances
- "Repair or Replacement of Damaged or Stolen Computers and Printers", 18 Aug 2009 Policies and Guidelines for Computers Used by Clerks for Church Record Keeping, p. 2.