Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Year-End Checklist for Religious Institutes

As 2012 comes to a close, there are a few things that all religious institutes (and many other Catholic non-profits) should make sure they have tended to. Think of it as a year-end checklist. If you are on a fiscal cycle other than a calendar year, some of these may apply at your fiscal year-end.
  1. Annual meeting held. Most corporations are required by state law and/or the corporations own bylaws to meet at least once annually. Check to make sure that you have fulfilled this requirement and that vacancies are filled, officers appointed, budgets approved, conflict of interest disclosures signed, and necessary actions ratified. 
  2. Annual report filed. States of incorporation generally require registered corporations to file an annual report. Many offices of the Secretary of State or the Attorney General simply send a form (some by snail mail and others via email) to the registered agent/office and ask them to  note any changes to the previous year's report. Sometimes there is a fee that must be sent in. It is wise to check the Secretary of State's website before year end and see if your organization(s) is(are) reported to be in good standing. Failure to file the annual report can result in lose of good status and even (automatic) dissolution. Note that this from method that some states use does not replace the requirement to hold an annual meeting or to keep minutes of the proceedings of the meeting(s). Also, it would be wise to check before year-end to see if any of the states in which then religious institute is "doing business" requires a corporate filing or registration. Usually the Secretary of State's website will provide this information.
  3. Tax filing deadlines met. If you have unrelated business income, check to make sure that you have all the information necessary to file Form 990-T. If you administer patrimony accounts, Form 1099-MISC may be required. Prepare for filing information returns: W-2s for employees and for members' FMV-FICA wages, and Form 1099 for contractors and service providers. (See yesterday's post for changes n these laws.) Our Taxes notebook has been updated to cover much of this information. If you have ministries that are required to file Form 990, make sure all information is available for the preparer. If you apply for inclusion in the Combined Federal Campaign, the deadline is approaching in January. 
  4. Charitable solicitation registrations up-to-date. Many jurisdictions require organizations to register if they solicit donations in that state and some require annual reports. We published an article earlier this year detailing which states require registration and reporting, as well as information on how to access their websites to see if your religious institute is exempt. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, so if you have not familiarized yourself with the requirements, now is a good time to review that article (RCRI Bulletin, Spring Edition, April 2012).
  5. Gifts administered. If your religious institute has received any restricted donations or grants that have agreements to ensure terms are being met, check to make sure that these are being honored.
  6. Insurance policies reviewed. It is wise to check general liability, automobile, D & O, health insurance and any other policies to make sure coverage limits are adequate and that they continue to cover all activities in which members are engaged or in which they are planning to become engaged in the coming year.
  7. Private Foundations cared for. If you are involved with any true foundations (not just those with the "foundation" in the name, but which are truly set up as foundations), make sure the administrators have spent the funds they are required to spend to avoid excise tax penalties. 
  8. Record-keeping updated. Check your document retention policy to make sure you have complied with any provisions that require purging of records or other actions. Here are a couple of resources  to assist you with formulating record-keeping policies and procedures. (Step 6: Review of Document and Record Retention Procedures) (Taxes notebook ch. 3, section B) (USCCB Financial Guidelines - Section XVI – Record Retention) 
  9. Donor Acknowledgements prepared. Very importantly, make sure that you have sent out appropriate acknowledgements to your donors for their contributions so that they can have the documentation they need to take a charitable donation deduction.
  10. Member personal files reviewed. Check member files and note those who will need to apply for Social Security, Medicare, SSI, Medicaid, or any other assistance programs in the coming year. Hold discussions with those who may have patrimony and are interested in giving it away before they become eligible for public benefits. Note deadlines for enrolling and disenrolling in Medicare Advantage in the coming year. 

  11. 11. RCRI Membership renewed. This is a shameless plug to remind you that the RCRI website password will change on January 1, 2013. Renew your subscription by January 20, 2013, to get the reduced rate. The fee will go up after that date.
Lastly, review your own business office practices and procedures and add reminders to this list to personalize it for your religious institute--for use now and in the future!

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