Church Law & Tax
Unity Worldwide Ministries’ COO/CFO Bruce Verkruyse recommends Richard Hammar’s Church & Clergy Tax Guide, which is updated annually. On this website you will also find a number of other resources, including e-newsletters on finance, management and more.
Essentials of Church Finance
This brief resource list was published by the Center for Congregations, whose mission is to provide hands-on assistance to Indiana congregations.
Ministry and Minister Tax, Accounting and Budget FAQs
Although targeted to Unity ministerial students, this primer in minister and ministry finance and tax law is useful reading for any church treasurer. Unity Worldwide Ministries has other resources available related to church finance on its website.
The National Association of Church Business Administration
NACBA has a wealth of resources on a variety of topics related to church administration, and they include a number on church finance. These include reports such as “Duties and Responsibilities of the Church Treasurer” and “Top Ten Documents for Church Treasurers,” to name a few.
“You’re a Church Treasurer. Now What?”
Published by the Evangelical Christian Credit Union, this guide covers records, reports, software and other pertinent issues.
Church Finance 101: Elements for Success
By Rev Doug Werth, MBA
To handle church finances successfully, the following elements should be in place:
- A rotating schedule of board members who count and record the money on Sundays. It is important that they be different people every Sunday; the bookkeeper, treasurer, and minister should not be on the list.
- A computer-based financial system. QuickBooks and Peachtree are the two most popular, but there are others.
- A trained bookkeeper or a person who knows how to do the proper entry work into the financial ledgers. If the volunteers or paid staff are unfamiliar with the programs, retain a CPA firm familiar with nonprofits for training and at least 3-4 months of review.
- A procedure for who signs checks. These should be board members, not the minister.
- A treasurer who has accounting training in order to oversee the above procedures, and the ability to present and interpret the data in a board meeting.
- A CPA firm that can be retained or called upon for consistent expert advice when questions arise.
A Treasurer’s Dilemma: Which Budget Data to Use?
By Dave Colburn
Unity of Fairfax, Va., prepares a budget based on our fiscal year, which is January to December. We begin preparations for the upcoming year’s budget starting in late September in order to get it ready for board review by November. Then it is presented to the congregation during our annual meeting on the first Sunday of December.
As you would expect, this requires a lot of estimating for income and expenses during the last quarter of the year based on prior years’ actuals, since we prepare and present the next year’s budget before actually completing the current year. This was frustrating for congregants when they had questions about a given budget category and my answer was “we know the data from the beginning of the year, but we have to estimate the data for the last quarter–it’s our best guess based on trends.”
As board treasurer for fiscal year 2012, I considered several suggestions from our congregation, including a request to shift our fiscal year to begin in February or March so that congregants could see that we were basing our budget on actual data, not on forecasts.
We solved this dilemma by keeping our fiscal year unchanged but changing the data we used to prepare our upcoming budget. Instead of using the data from the current year starting in January through September and then forecasting, we shifted to a model of using the data for the 12 months starting in the previous October. This gave us 12 months of actual data (prior year October through current year September) to determine our trends and generate the budget for the upcoming year.
During the presentation of the budget during our annual meeting, our congregation appreciated seeing actual numbers to compare against the upcoming budget values.