Missionaries & Tax Exemptions

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
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Postby aebrown » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:23 pm

HunsakerTG wrote:ADoes anyone know if there is anything that, unlike book 1 of the Handbook itself, is readily available to finance clerks that repeats just book 1's finance instructions?

There is no separate reference for the finance instructions in the handbook. However, a stake president or bishop can authorize the duplication of sections of the handbook for high councilors and others as needed (see p. xiii). I am the stake financial clerk, and my stake president has authorized me to have a copy of "Chapter 16: Finances" of the 2006 CHI Book 1.

It's certainly reasonable for you to make such a request of your bishop (but you might want to wait another 3-4 days, since the new 2010 handbook will be released on November 13). But of course, the decision is up to him as to which portions, if any, he would like you to have.
Questions that can benefit the larger community should be asked in a public forum, not a private message.

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Postby allenjpl » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:23 pm

Under the Record Keeping FAQ (available online), the very first general question is how you can learn your duties as a clerk. In order, the resources you have available are:

- your stake clerk
- other clerks
- The Handbook. Specifically, it directs you to start with the sections under ward or stake administration and mentions that the sections under ordinances, blessings, records or reports are also important.
- the online training
- clerk.lds.org

To me, if I don't have access to a copy of the handbook, I am seriously handicapped in my calling to assist the Bishop and the Ward clerk. There should be 4 copies of the handbook available: one each for the Bishop and his counselors, and an extra one. We've always used that as the Ward clerk's copy and that way the assistant clerks can research policies related to their own callings without borrowing from the Bishop.

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Postby mfmohlma » Wed Nov 10, 2010 12:19 am

LVAllen wrote:...and an extra one. We've always used that as the Ward clerk's copy and that way the assistant clerks can research policies related to their own callings without borrowing from the Bishop.

We've recently decided this copy should "live" in our locked filing cabinet for easy reference by any clerk (and executive secretary), yet be secure enough that it won't "wander".

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Postby jmmaddux » Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:27 am

gregwanderson wrote:MLS keeps track of what's "charitable" and what's not. Notice that the donor statement intended for tax purposes doesn't mention any of the categories used in MLS. There was a big court case about 20 years ago where a family from Idaho did battle with the IRS over claiming their son's missionary expenses as a charitable deduction. Following that high-profile case, the church changed and/or clarified many donation policies. I think it is unwise for us to stir up something which was "settled" long ago.


To Clarify:

All category and sub-category information in MLS is for the convenience of the church and the donor. The report shows which donations are charitable. Donor statements which show any categories (tithing, fast offering, ward missionary, etc.) are NOT to be used for tax filing. The only question is whether the donation was charitable. Charitable donations for tax purposes are listed on a specific form printed by MLS.

The $400 per month figure we assign to missionary support is arbitrary. It has nothing to do with the actual cost of supporting any individual missionary in any given month. The ultimate responsibility for the $400 per month payment falls on the ward. So any contributions to "Elder Smith" are recorded that way for the convenience of those who want to contribute to that $400 per month arbitrary figure. But once that money is in the ward account the donor has no say in what happens to it. And once that money is taken by CHQ the ward has no say in what happens to it. THAT is why there is NO ISSUE with the IRS about a donation being made "to a specific person." The church (a legitimate, charitable organization) dictates the use of that money.

Previous to the equalized payment system, families were sending money directly to their missionary sons and daughters. The church had nothing to do with those transactions OR what really happened to the money OR the amount of money "required" for missionary support. THAT is why a family had to go to court in order to claim it was a charitable donation. That's why they lost. That's among the reasons why the church has an organized system today.

They lost in the tax court but the ruling was remanded by the circuit court. They were able tp claim the deduction. All the more reason for hiring a CPA :)

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Re: Missionaries & Tax Exemptions

Postby Ricksgrad80s » Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:19 pm

gregwanderson wrote:

"Previous to the equalized payment system, families were sending money directly to their missionary sons and daughters.

That's not precisely true. Yes, for several years that's how it worked before the court ruling caused the church to have all donations to missionaries paid to the local ward. However, when I served in the 80s before the equalization system was put into effect, donations were made to the ward with my name included on the donation slip, and those funds were then sent to an account that was set up by the church at Zion's bank to send to me every month in Argentina. So the funds were indeed earmarked for my use, although the donors had no control over what actually happened to them once they made the contribution. The ward clerk simply forwarded the standard amount my mission had set for each missionary every month to the Zion's bank account, which was then transferred to a bank in Argentina and picked up by the mission office, and eventually sent my way. So the church had a system the IRS had approved, it's just different from the one we have today.

It was more flexible, since as I became a district leader and zone leader, our mission increased the amount we needed per month (to pay for extra bus trips, etc.) plus our parents could send extra spending money if they felt we needed it. (I have no idea if they told the ward clerk to send the extra, or if he just sent all the funds earmarked for me that were available each month.) My mission cost $100-$135, so the savings from the equalized system were significant, since Argentina was cheap.

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