Parish Administration and Accounting



Jesus spoke about his church in images. “I am the vine, you are the branches.” Consider, he said, the mustard seed, the wheat field, the catch of fish, the shepherd and the sheep. Modern scholars have developed several contemporary images or models to help us grasp what is the essence of Jesus’ Church. Jesuit Father Avery Dulles has summarized the work of theologians in this field in his book, Models of the Church. Contemporary theologians, as Dulles sees it, tend to analyze the Church according to five basis models. Since parish is an expression of Church, it is not difficult to relate each of these models to parish and make some practical applications for each.

Parish as Community

In this model of the Church a parish is a family or community of persons bound by inner ties of faith, grace and love. This concept often leads us to the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ or, more recently, the People of God.

Parish as Sacrament

This model views the Church as the visible sign (the sacrament) of Christ’s real but invisible presence in our midst. Someone focusing on this model may tend to describe the parish as a “series of sacred rites for Sundays and special occasions.”

Parish as Herald

This model looks upon the Church as a herald, as one who received and announces an official message: the good news of Jesus and the Bible. The mission of the Church, according to the herald model, is the proclamation of the Word of God to the whole world.

Parish as Servant

In this model, the Church is viewed as a servant, imitating the example of Jesus by serving, healing, reconciling, and binding up wounds.

Parish as Institution

This is the approach most people are familiar with. It stresses the visible, organizational side of the Church. It concentrates on the buildings we have built, paid for and point to with pride; it emphasizes rules, regulations, authority and obedience, the Pope, bishop, pastor, and priest. It cherishes a tradition of centuries dating back to the days of the apostles. A high regard is held for a precisely determined way of worship and formula of belief and moral code.


The Parish Administration Manual is designed to serve as a general reference guide to pastors and parish administrators responsible for managing the financial and business affairs of the parish. Another important function is to instruct on uniform, standardized procedures that enable parishes and the diocese to comply with numerous federal and state regulations, reporting requirements and canon law. It is necessary to maintain periodic revisions of sections of the manual as changes and updates are published.

While approaching parish administration from a “business model” perspective, we have attempted to point out the unique characteristics of church administration. There are considerable differences in administrative practices between not-for-profit organizations and conventional profit-based enterprises. Those differences are manifested in the reporting requirements for parish employment tax reporting, the annual parish financial statement presentation, benefits administration, corporate taxation (from which parishes are exempt), asset depletion treatment, fiduciary controls, etc.


Stewardship calls for us to recognize and use the gifts given to us by God for the betterment of his kingdom on Earth. Our talent is a gift from God intended to be shared with others.

Accountability is a central obligation of stewardship. Each of us is ultimately accountable to God for our actions here on Earth. Administration is a form of ministry bound by fiduciary responsibility and accountability for sound recordkeeping, proper financial reporting, and diligent management of assets. The Parish Administration Manual is intended to assist us in properly performing our duties.

Inasmuch as each of us shares in the responsibilities of stewardship, the contents of this manual serve as instruction. As such, this instruction is construed to be the directives of the Diocesan Bishop that all are bound to obey as prescribed by the Code of Canon Law.

Parish Budgeting

What is a Budget and why do I need one?

Budgets are financial plans. They are designed to help an organization achieve specific goals. An organization must identify and prioritize its goals as the first step in the Budget process.

We are called upon to be good stewards of Parish Resources. Those resources are limited and must be allocated to meet the increasing demands on the Parish. Budgeting helps to fulfill fiduciary responsibilities and accomplish the important goals of the Parish, within the constraints of available resources.

The Bishop has directed all parishes to prepare an annual operating budget and to submit a copy with the Parish Annual Financial Report.

Planning the Budget

While a budget is a “forward thinking” plan, planning a budget requires researching past financial performance. A good starting point is to chart three to five years worth of comparative financial statements. Organizing your data by General Ledger account number allows easy comparison of year to year changes in revenues and expenses. This format helps to spot trends and forecast financial performance. Example:


Evaluate the Financial Environment

The information compiled in the exercise described above will help Parish Leadership to evaluate both past performance as well as current and future needs. Leadership will establish goals to be achieved within a pre-determined amount of time. Based on the resources available, and those that can be reasonably anticipated, parish leaders will prioritize those goals. The team should consider the following and how these areas will impact the Budget:

The Needs of the Parish


Forecasting is the process of making predictions (informed judgments, educated guesses). You can begin the process by asking the questions, “What is going to happen in the coming year? What will conditions be like three to five years from now? 10 years?”

In order to manage the volume of data, a team approach is useful. Working as a team towards a common Goal will lead to well-informed “educated guesses” that draw upon the strengths of a diverse group with special knowledge. This will help to increase the reliability of predictions.

During the Budget planning process the team may need to re-evaluate priorities. The team should examine relevant contingencies; mindful however, that information used to predict future trends is not perfect or complete.

Implementing the Budget

A team that develops a Budget, in an open environment that promotes input and consensus, is more likely to operate within Budget parameters. The team that has ownership of the Budget, and bears the responsibility for it, will be more effective in gaining support for the Budget. People work harder for causes they believe in, particularly when they have participated in setting the agenda. The more people involved in planning the Budget, the greater the commitment and the more effective the implementation.

The Budget can be integrated with the accounting system to allow tracking and comparison between actual operating results and the Budget. A Variance Report shows the “Actual vs. Budget” results for every revenue and expense account. A Variance amount can be expressed as the difference between Actual vs. Budget in dollars and/or percentages.

Using the Budget

A Variance Report should be generated along with monthly financial statements. Managers of functional areas should be provided with the relevant part of the Variance Report to track their progress. The Pastor and Business Manager should review and evaluate the entire monthly report. The Finance Committee and Trustees should review the Budget at their regular meetings. A special meeting should be convened if a crisis develops.

Significant deviations should be investigated immediately. Accounting data must be recorded in a timely manner and to the correct accounts. Determine if there are seasonal variations in revenues and expenses that might explain disproportionate variance amounts (example: heating bills higher in the winter).

Do not be tempted to “massage the numbers” by spreading revenues or expenses to inappropriate accounts to conform to the budget. Place the data where it belongs, along functional lines, and change the Budget when and where necessary. The Budget is a tool, it is not cast in stone. It can, and should, be changed to conform to the needs of the organization. A good budget should be close, in its predictions, to actual operating results. If it is not, make the necessary adjustments to bring the Budget back into alignment. Changes must conform to the purpose of the Budget; the attainment of the Goals and Priorities established by the parish leadership. Course corrections are allowed, so long as the destination is clearly defined and only the route taken is changed.

The Austerity Budget

In an austerity situation it is almost always more expeditious to cut expenses as opposed to budgeting for revenue increases. The ability of a parish with financial difficulties to increase revenue is often uncertain. It may be unrealistic for such a parish to budget for increased income. If the budgeted revenue goal is not reached the situation is made even worse. It is a matter of weighing the uncertainty and attendant risk factors of revenue generation against the certain, measurable results of cost cutting.

If you increase a revenue category you need not increase an expense by a like amount. If you increase an expense, however, you will have to increase revenue by an amount even greater than the expense! It costs money to make money, for manpower and resources. How much it costs depends on the efficiency of the organization along with many other factors, both tangible and intangible. If you increase any expense in your budget by $1.00 (all other factors being equal) then you will need to generate an additional $1.00 in revenue plus whatever it cost to raise that dollar, in order to break even.

Example: Your Finance/Budget team decides to purchase non-budgeted equipment halfway through your budget year. The cost of the equipment is $1,000. You launch a fund-raising campaign using volunteers to raise the money. Flyers and raffle tickets are printed up at a cost of $75.00. A raffle prize is purchased for $100.00. Even though you are using volunteers, a paid administrator puts in 2 hours in coordinating the event at a cost of $14.00 (wages and benefits). Excluding intangible costs, you must now raise $1,189.00 to break even.

For reasons illustrated above, it is usually a good idea to construct a budget with conservative revenue projections and “worse-case” expense projections. This allows a little breathing room to help deal with unforeseen contingencies.

Long Range Budget Planning

Parish financial professionals are called upon to be sensitive to the changing needs of the parishioners of the Church. As social demographics change, so must the priorities and goals change to be responsive to those needs. Such changes typically occur over longer periods of time and are not addressed by one-year operating budgets. For example, the declining number of priests is affecting parishes now. This condition will be even more pronounced five years from now. Long range planning should recognize that this trend, along with declines in other vital resources, has serious long-term implications. It is therefore imperative to plan for these contingencies on an ongoing basis.

Each parish is required to file an annual Budget that is subject to the approval of the Bishop. In addition to this requirement, each Parish should develop a Five-Year Plan. A Five-Year Plan follows the same conventions as the annual budget but projects five years forward. Each year the plan is typically revised and updated in response to actual operating results. Budgets for some large capital projects may require a 20 to 30 year budget time-line. Some organizations develop 100-year plans as part of their budget process.

Capital Expense Budgets

Capital disbursements may have a profound impact on operating cash and should not be ignored. However, capital expenses are not considered to be operating expenses and are typically not included in an operating budget. Parish Capital Budgets must be completed independently of operating budgets.


Most parishes have parishioners experienced in finance and budgeting. The Diocese shares information on salary ranges with Pastors to help them budget for wage and benefits expense.

The Finance Department of the Diocese is available to consult with parishes on budgeting. Parishes that use outside accounting and/or auditing firms should also consider their expertise in budget matters.


Diocesan Budget Form Instructions

Schedules A through L (Schedule A, B, & C are Operating Revenues, Schedule D through L are Operating Expenses)

Column 1 Diocesan Uniform Chart of Account number

Column 2 Account Description/Title

Column 3, 4, 5 Three most recent years of Actual operating results

Column 5 Operating Budget amount

Budget Summary Page

Column 2 Schedules A through C summarized Revenue Schedules D through L summarized Expense Total Income Less: Total Expense = Actual Surplus (Deficit)

Column 3, 4, 5 Three most recent years of Actual schedule amounts summarized with Revenue and Expense sub-totals

Column 5 Budgeted Revenue and Expense by G/L line number Budget Surplus (Deficit)

Explanation Section: If a parish budgets for an operating deficit (loss), please explain how the operating shortfall will be funded (paid for).

Budget Worksheet A

Clergy Salary & Benefits Schedule

Detail the remuneration for each Priest as contained in the Priests Compensation Schedule. Priests are paid on the schedule based on Full years Ordained as of the beginning of the fiscal year (not anniversary date).

Priest Name

Column 1 Include the Salary component and the Expense Allowance component from the Clergy Compensation Schedule (transfer total to Budget line # 701)

Column 2 Fill in the anticipated Health/Life Insurance premium for clergy (transfer total to Budget line # 702 or 722 depending on your COA )

Column 3 Plug in the IRA amount from the Clergy Compensation Schedule (transfer total to Budget line # 723)

Totals Total compensation budgeted for each priest

Budget Worksheet B

Religious Stipend & Benefits Schedule

Religious Name

Column 1 Scheduled Religious Stipend [obtained from Order] (transfer total to Budget line # 702)

Column 2 Fill in the anticipated Health/Life Insurance premium for religious (transfer total to Budget line # 731)

Column 3 Religious Retirement [obtained from Order] (transfer total to Budget line # 732)

Column 4 Living Allowance [obtained from Order] (transfer total to Budget line # 733)

Column 5 Transportation Allowance [obtained from Order] (transfer total to Budget line # 734)

Totals Total compensation budgeted for each religious person

Budget Worksheet C

Lay Employees Remuneration Schedule

Employee Name

Column 1 Budgeted lay annual wages (from Worksheet D if an hourly employee). Transfer total to appropriate Budget Schedule D- Salaries Expense line.

Column 2 Employer contribution for lay FICA and Medicare (7.65% x gross wages from column 1). Transfer total to Budget line # 741.

Column 3 Unemployment insurance premium (use most recent rates). Transfer total to Budget line # 742.

Column 4 Disability insurance premium (use most recent rates). Transfer total to Budget line # 743.

Column 5 Health Insurance budgeted. Transfer total to Budget line # 745.

Column 6 Retirement (most recent rate x gross wages from column 1). Transfer total to Budget Line # 746.

Column 7 Life insurance budgeted. Transfer total to Budget line # 747.

Column 8 Totals of Columns 1 through 7 yields total budgeted wage and benefits expense for each employee.

Budget Worksheet D

Hourly Lay Employee Wage Worksheet

This worksheet is a supplement to Budget Worksheet C. It provides information on the number of hours, hourly rate of pay, and number of hours budgeted for annually. The employee name and budgeted annual wages are transferred from this worksheet to Budget Worksheet C and from there to Budget Schedule D- Salaries & Wages Expense.

Summary of Budget Process

The Budget is a plan of action

Planning the Budget

Using the Budget

Administrative Resources



A good accounting system is one of the main elements of sound fiscal management within any organization. Accounting is the process of recording, sorting, summarizing, and communicating data resulting from business transactions and events. Bookkeeping, a subset of accounting, is the mechanical, record-keeping function that tracks costs, profits, losses and changes in asset and liability balances. Financial reports summarizing operating results, trends, and significant developments are the end product of the accounting process. Those statements must clearly and accurately communicate financial information about the entity, thus enabling managers and stakeholders to make informed, intelligent decisions.

Diocesan accounting follows Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). GAAP is a comprehensive set of rules governing the accounting for financial transactions that are communicated in a set of financial statements [Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Statement of Cashflows]. Those principles are derived from many sources including the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), as well as the general body of accounting literature.

Since the diocese adheres to GAAP standards, the Accrual Basis of accounting is used. The Accrual Basis recognizes income in the time period in which it was earned, regardless of whether the money was actually received. Similarly, expenses are recognized in the period in which there were incurred, regardless of whether they have been paid for or not. The accrual of income is represented by an Accounts Receivable balance for the amount that is due to the parish. The accrual of expense is reported as an Accounts Payable for the balance that is owed to vendors by the parish.

The basic Accounting Equation describes the relationship between assets, liabilities and equity. Assets are the material goods held by the business such as cash, buildings, furniture, equipment, and land. Liabilities are amounts owed to others such as accounts payable (money owed to vendors), payroll taxes payable (money owed to taxing entities), and loans payable (obligation to repay money borrowed). Equity is the net worth of the business entity, or the difference between the assets and liabilities. Thus, the Accounting Equation is as follows:



Asset, Liability, and Equity accounts are Balance Sheet accounts. The balance sheet reports the financial position of the entity on a day to day basis. As such, the balance sheet is ongoing and is never closed out at the end of a fiscal reporting period (fiscal year) as the Income Statement is.

The Income Statement, also referred to as the Profit & Loss Statement (P&L), reports Income (Revenue), Expenses, and Gain or Loss [the difference between the Income and Expenses].

The Statement of Cash Flows is the third component in a set of Financial Statements. The Statement of Cash Flows reports “cash flows” as they relate to the Balance Sheet and Income Statement account balances. For example, cash disbursed to make loan principle payments affects asset [reduced by the payment] and liability accounts [liability balance reduced by the payment], but not Income Statement accounts [since there is no income or expense transaction]. In this scenario, the amount of change in balance sheet accounts will not be the same as the profit / loss results reported in the income statement. The Statement of Cash Flows explains such differences. Similarly, the accrual of accounts payable establishes a liability and records expense in the operating cycle in which it was incurred. The increase in expense will not have a corresponding decrease to cash; instead there is a corresponding increase in accounts payable. The Statement of Cash Flows provides explanation for transactions that “straddle” the Balance Sheet and Income Statement.

Conventional GAAP Accounting

There are several types of accounting methodologies; Conventional GAAP, Fund, and a modified type of Fund-accounting used by some governmental agencies. Fund accounting is still in use, primarily by not-for-profit organizations. Conventional GAAP accounting is the de-facto standard for most organizations today (both for-profit and not-for-profit). There is no advantage for a parish to use Fund accounting over Conventional accounting. Indeed there are some inherent complexities in Fund accounting that make it less desirable for parish use. The Diocesan Parish Chart of Accounts (COA) drafted in the mid-eighties contains many features unique to Fund accounting. The proper implementation of those features was never achieved. Misapplication of certain of those accounts has caused distortion of financial reporting that has accumulated over the years. Principal among those distortions are the Fund Balances themselves. In recent years there has been an incremental transition to correct structural problems with the Standard Chart of Accounts. Part of that transition will be to correct the Fund balances and to restate them using accounting terminology and methodology in conformance with Conventional GAAP standards. General Ledger maintenance, a normal part of the accounting process, will help to expedite this transition. Parishes are sent blank copies of the Annual Financial Report annually. With that report is a listing of necessary changes to the account structure, and procedural instructions, to be performed by parish administration as routine general ledger maintenance.

Fund Accounting

“A fund is an accounting entity with a self-balancing set of accounts consisting of assets, liabilities, and a fund balance. Separate accounts are maintained for each fund to insure observance of limitations and restrictions placed on the use of the resources. For reporting purposes, however, funds of similar characteristics are combined into fund groups.” [Fundamental Concepts of Financial Accounting and Reporting, NACUBO]

Endowment Funds

Funds that carry specific donor restrictions stipulating that the principal be invested and maintained intact, with only the investment interest earnings available for expenditures consistent with specified restrictions.

Asset Replacement Funding

Unlike land, some assets wear out over time. Roofs, computers, vehicles, appliances, and similar assets must be replaced periodically. In planning for such contingencies, parishes should maintain an inventory of their assets. The inventory should include the acquisition date and the normal life span of each asset. A time-line is then established to show when replacement of the assets is anticipated, along with a projection of future replacement cost [factored for inflation]. The replacement cost, weighted for inflation, is then divided by the number of years of useful life remaining to derive an amount that should be saved annually to fund the replacement(s). The savings should be invested in an interest bearing account such as diocesan pooling. The interest income should be allowed to compound; which will help maintain fluidity and hedge against unforeseen contingencies.

Basic Accounting System

Parishes may use a manually prepared set of accounting

records (Books), though it is encouraged that accounting be done using QuickBooks (Intuit) or Parish Data Systems Ledger accounting software. In either case, a set of Books consists of the following:


Books of original entry that record transactions in chronological order by type. Journals include Cash Receipts Journal, Cash Disbursements Journal, and the General Journal. Often, parishes use the Collection Tally sheets as their Cash Receipts Journal by placing the sheets in sequential order in a binder. Some parishes use their checkbook register as the Cash Disbursements Journal by maintaining the register or stubs in sequential order in a binder. The General Journal records all general journal entries as well as providing substantiation for each journal entry.


The ledger is the book used to record transactions derived from journals. In a manual system, each page of the ledger is devoted to a single account. Entries in ledgers are brought about by Posting. Posting is the process of copying transactions from journals to the appropriate pages of the Ledger. The General Ledger is the master account book that contains all asset accounts, liability accounts, equity accounts, revenue accounts, and expense accounts. Subsidiary Ledgers provide details of the balances reported in the General ledger. Common Subsidiary Ledgers include the Accounts Payable Ledger, Accounts Receivable Ledger, and Payroll Ledger.


An advantage to using integrated accounting software, like QuickBooks, is that the volume of repetitive manual entries is greatly reduced. Transactions are recorded as they occur, with the appropriate posting to the various journals and ledgers occurring automatically. Accounting programs perform mathematical calculations with precision, and much faster than using a calculator. Many other functions are automated, making the bookkeeping process more efficient and reducing input errors. For example, checks to pay accounts payable can be generated from the program with much of the double-entry bookkeeping occurring automatically “behind the scenes”.


Following are the official procedures for collection counting, money handling, and recording of the collections.

These procedures for handling the Church’s collections are in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP) for handling of money. These procedures have been established as official policy of the Diocese to protect the persons handling funds, the funds themselves, and the Church.

Donations are freely given and our parishioners’ generosity should not be taken lightly. Every effort must be made to protect these gifts. Volunteers and staff are precious to the Church and they should not be put at risk by allowing them to practice unsafe and un-businesslike money handling methods.


Effective cash management will implement strategies for generating interest income from investment, and negotiation of favorable vendor discounts and terms.

Money held in non-interest bearing accounts should be limited to the smallest balance practicable. The amount held in the operating checking account should be only the minimal balance necessary for routine, short-term operations. Surplus funds should be transferred to higher interest bearing investment accounts.

Savings and Money Market accounts should contain money that will be needed in the near future but not immediately.

Certificates of Deposit [CDs] can be used for moneys not needed in the near term. CDs are time-deposit accounts that often yield higher interest than savings accounts. CD funds are usually subject to penalties for early withdrawal. There should be sufficient liquidity, either through laddering of CD investments or through other savings accounts, to provide funding for emergencies and avoid such penalties.

Diocesan Pooling offers a competitive interest rate that has been historically higher than CD rates. Another advantage is improved liquidity since there is no established length of the term of deposit, nor are there any penalties for withdrawal from the pooling fund.


A pattern of cash flow [the movement of operating cash inflows and outflows] can be derived from reviewing historical transactions recorded on the books [example: checking account balances from week to week for a fiscal year]. That data, adjusted for current conditions and seasonality, can be used to project future cash flow needs. Those projections should be integrated into the budget process for planning capital projects, maintenance & repair, asset replacement allocation funding, and operating expenditures. That data should be kept up to date, revised as necessary, and shared with the finance committee on an ongoing basis.

A daily cash log must be maintained, either manually or through accounting software, for all cash accounts. QuickBooks accounting software, when properly utilized, facilitates this process by providing up to the minute account balance information on demand.


Effective cash management begins with sound internal controls. Internal Controls are systems implemented to safeguard: resources, gifts given by parishioners, and parish administrators. Internal Controls can be further defined as a set of processes, functions, activities, subsystems, and people who ensure the effective achievement of objectives and goals.

A key component in any discussion of Internal Controls is the concept of “Segregation of Duties”. Segregation of Duties is designed to reduce the likelihood of errors and irregularities. Ideally, an individual should not have responsibility for more than one of the following:

Authorization- the responsibility and/or control permitting changes to parish assets (resources) and liabilities (obligations). Example: A signatory on a parish operating checking account signing a disbursement check.

Custody- individual controlling the physical, material aspects of parish resources. Example: Individual responsible for safeguarding the parish operating checkbook

Record Keeping- individual responsible for recording and reporting accounting transactions. Example: Bookkeeper recording check-disbursements and performing bank reconciliations

In small parishes, where there is a small staff, it may not be possible to completely segregate all of the above activities. However, under no circumstances should an individual have control over all three areas. Pastors must open and inspect bank statements as a control over bookkeepers responsible for cash disbursements, recording cash receipts, and reconciling bank statements. Pastors must approve bills prior to payment as a control to prevent unauthorized purchases. Pastors must sign all checks as a control over unauthorized use of parish funds. Use of signature stamps is forbidden by the Bishop. Bookkeepers must not count collections, since they record the cash receipts and are in a position to conceal the theft.

Check Signing

The check signer is the last inspection point for the expenditure of funds. The authorized signatory should review the check and supporting documents to ensure the payment is reasonable and proper. Blank checks must never be pre-signed. Lay employees are not permitted to be signers on parish operating accounts. Bookkeepers, accountants, and other personnel involved in the bookkeeping function must not handle cash or count collections. Check signing stamps are forbidden; the use of check signing stamps is expressly against diocesan policy. The use of check signing stamps may be grounds for dismissal.

Account Reconciliation

Bank reconciliation’s should be performed immediately upon receipt of the bank statements. Each account must be formally reconciled in writing using the Cash Reconciliation Form (see Appendix) or comparable form. All bank statements should flow from the bank to the Pastor directly and unopened. The Pastor should review the statements and canceled checks. The bookkeeper should be questioned about any unusual activity. The statements are then given to the bookkeeper (or other qualified personnel) to do the bank reconciliation’s. The Pastor should review the bank reconciliation’s to insure they are complete, correct and timely. Under Federal banking laws, recourse for bank error is usually forfeited if not detected and acted upon by account holders within 30 days (sometimes less).

Securing Check Stock

Checks must be secured [under lock and key, stored in safe, etc] when not in use, with access restricted to authorized personnel only.

Capitalization Procedure

      Capital Improvements in excess of $20,000 require a Trustee Resolution and approval of the Bishop.

A Capital Improvement is the addition of, or to, a fixed asset(s) [buildings, land, facilities, and/or equipment], which provides function and utility into future operating cycles. Capital improvements are different from repair and maintenance. Repair and maintenance restores an existing fixed asset to normal operating condition. A Capital Improvement is adding a new fixed asset, and placing it in service where it will provide new utility for years into the future. Fixing a broken pipe is a Repair & Maintenance transaction. Adding a new bathroom is a Capital Improvement.

In commercial enterprises Capital Improvements are recorded on the books and then depreciated. Parishes in the Diocese of Syracuse have not depreciated their fixed assets, nor associated Capital Improvements. The reason for Depreciation is largely driven by corporate tax code. Since the church is exempt from corporate income taxes, there is no compelling reason to depreciate our land, building, equipment, or capital improvements.

Ordinarily, Capital Assets (land, buildings, equipment, and improvements) are carried on the balance sheet at basis (what they cost). Thus, upon acquisition there would be a reduction of liquid asset (cash), and a corresponding increase in Fixed Assets (land, buildings, equipment, and improvements), on the balance sheet. The accounting entry would have no impact on the Income Statement. This treatment confuses some laypersons that do not understand why the Capital Project they contributed to, is not reported on the Profit & Loss (aka Income) Statement. In an effort to address that concern, it was decided that the procedures for recording and reporting how capitalization is accounted for on financial statements would be changed.

Below are instructions effective July 1, 2013:

A new account shall be added to the general ledger chart-of-accounts, as follows:

Effective July 1, 2013, Capital Improvements will be recorded and reported as extraordinary disbursements in account 902. Please call or email if you have any questions or concerns: Nick Crosby 315-422-9089, Thank you.


Canon 537 of the Code of Canon Law states: “Each parish is to have a finance council which is regulated by universal law as well as by norms issued by the diocesan bishop; in this council the Christian faithful, selected according to the same norms, aid the pastor in the administration of the parish goods with due regard for the prescription of canon 532.”

Canon 532 states: “The pastor represents the parish in all juridic affairs in accord with the norm of law; he is to see to it that the goods of the parish are administered in accord with the norms of canons 1281-1288.”

Canons 1281-1288 prescribe norms for the administration of church temporalities. These canons regulate the conduct of the administrator in matters involving fiduciary responsibilities. For the pastor or parish administrator these include the collection and investment of revenues, management of assets, disbursement of funds, acquisition and alienation of property, maintenance of physical plant and appurtenances, inventory accounting, record keeping and reporting. Church law “strongly recommends” that the administrator prepares an annual budget (c. 1285.2[3]) and mandates the observance of civil law pertinent to business administration. The administrator must also abide by legal and moral principles governing labor relations and employment practices (c. 1286).

In light of the above, the following principles are established for parish finance committees in the Diocese of Syracuse:

Each parish shall have a finance committee, consisting of not less than three parish members, appointed by the pastor (the term “pastor” is understood as applying as well to those serving as canonical parish administrators).

The role of the finance committee is consultative. The committee meets under the direction of the pastor in order to assist him in discharging his administrative responsibilities. It does so by offering the pastor advice, recommendations, or other forms of support in matters involving the administration of church temporalities. The pastor exercises proper authority and responsibility for ultimate decision-making in accord with the norms of church law.

Finance committee members should include laity skilled and experienced in areas of business, finance, management and law. They should be active members of the parish who are of unquestioned integrity and command the respect and confidence of their parish and community.

The pastor should insure that members of the finance committee are both conversant with and loyal to ethical principles consistent with the moral teachings of the Church. The pastor is responsible for educating finance committee members on general church law and diocesan regulations pertaining to the administration of temporalities.

Norms governing the constitution of the finance committee, terms of membership, regular scheduling of meetings, record-keeping and specific duties of the committee should be adopted by each parish, approved by the pastor and set down in writing. Regular reports of committee activity should be made available to the parish council or publicized for the parish.

Minutes of finance committee meetings are required under New York State law governing corporations. Meeting minutes must be secured in the permanent archives of the parish.


Making use of available talents and maximization of assets is one of the requirements set forth by stewardship. Investment of parish resources provides a means of obtaining additional financial support needed to accomplish the goals and missions of the parish. Caution and prudence must always be observed when investing resources of the parish. Speculative or risky investments should never be considered.

Investments and Parish Finance Committee

To assist the Pastor, the Trustees, parish Finance Committee, and trustworthy investment counselors should be consulted prior to making investments. The investment objectives of the Parish Finance Committee can be implemented at the parish level as follows:


Parish investment portfolios can be structured in the following ways:

501(c)(3) Exemption Status

Every parish is separately incorporated under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Service Tax Code. In the past, a lengthy filing process was required to obtain this filing status. Currently, this status is automatically granted to parishes of the Catholic Church nationwide. Please note that if this status is revoked (due to lack of compliance with code provisions), the application process to re-establish exempt status can be both lengthy and costly.

Occasionally, a parish or related school is asked to provide proof of their 501(c)(3) exempt status. The following letter of proof may be obtained from the Finance Department at the Chancery:


To Whom It May Concern:

Please be advised that ______________Church, Located at _____________ is an organization within the Diocese of Syracuse and is exempt from filing FORM 940 as a code 501(c)(3) organization.

This Church (or School) is listed on page ____ of the Kennedy Directory. The Kennedy Directory is generally accepted as the official listing of all 501(c)(3) organizations of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.


Diocesan Official

Parish Mergers and Twinning                                                                Draft 6/18/2013


Twinned parishes share a common pastor/administrator. A separate set of books is maintained for each parish location.  A single QuickBooks license supports up to 10 distinct company files for parishes, schools, cemeteries, etc.

Offices can be consolidated so that administration can be more efficiently managed. Twinned parishes can usually (but not always) consolidate their payroll and benefits administration into a single paymaster location. However, when that is done, the employees all become technically employed by the paymaster location on its’ unique federal ID number. This can usually be accommodated yielding cost savings; reducing payroll processing expense.


Mergers differ from twinning, in that two or more parishes become a single business entity. This legal distinction is significant. Though merged parishes may operate more than one worship site, they are a single legal entity, operating as a not-for-profit religious corporation. Merged parishes often have a name change. At some point the change of name must be communicated to banks, vendors, federal and state government, and payroll services.

The Internal Revenue Service requires notification of corporate name changes, as follows (excerpts from I.R.S. regulations):

A copy of the amendment to the Articles of Incorporation, and proof of filing with the appropriate state authority.

The letter or fax reporting the change of name must include your organization’s 

The individual signing the letter must state the capacity in which he or she is signing (for example, “Father John Smith, Treasurer”). 

        Internal Revenue Service

        Exempt Organizations Determinations

        Room 4024

        P.O. Box 2508

        Cincinnati, OH 45201


        Fax: (513)263-4330

A tax exempt organization may need a letter to confirm its tax-exempt status or to reflect a change in its name or address.  If so, an organization may generally contact Customer Account Services (see address above) by phone, letter, or fax to request an affirmation letter.

A letter or fax requesting an affirmation letter must include your organization’s

The individual signing the letter must state the capacity in which he or she is signing (for example, “Father John Smith, Treasurer”). 

New York State also requires notification of corporate name changes to NYS Department of State and NYS Tax Department. This is facilitated by Chancery and diocesan legal counsel at the time the legal incorporation paperwork is done.

Even though merged parishes are a single corporate entity, each must maintain a separate set of books. Plant assets (buildings, land, equipment) and indebtedness are accounted for on the books until properties are sold and debt satisfied. Plant assets (buildings and equipment) must be accounted for, including expenses to maintain and secure the premises while it is on the market (repairs/maintenance, utilities, PSI, water & sewer, etc).  The simplest, clearest, and most efficient way of accomplishing that is by maintaining a separate parish company in QuickBooks.

Merged parishes, even when all properties have been sold and all debt satisfied, continue to exist as corporate entities in the event bequest gifts are given in their name. Thus, a set of books must be kept even if there are no assets, liabilities, or operating activities.

If a merged location is to be sold, all or in part, the debt of that location must be maintained on that segregated set of books; along with the plant asset valuations. In this way, the debt obligations can be paid down from sale proceeds.

Plant assets should be carried on the books at basis cost. If the historical basis cost is unknown, an insurance valuation from the Risk Management Department can be booked instead. Capital improvements increase plant asset values. Sale of property reduces plant asset values.

Expenses (and income if applicable) related to each property should be reported in the P&L, and budget variance reports, revealing vital information about what each building costs to maintain. There are different ways to achieve that within QuickBooks. Parish Services department is happy to assist in setting accounts up within QuickBooks to facilitate; tailored to the particular situation of each merger. It is important to coordinate so financial data from QuickBooks flows smoothly into the Qvinci financial reporting and consolidation system. Please call Parish services at 315-422-9089 to assist and make necessary modifications to the Qvinci system.

Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT)

Section 513 of the Internal Revenue Code defines unrelated business income as “any trade or business, the conduct of which is not substantially related to the exercise or performance by the organization of its charitable, educational, religious or other purpose or functions forming the basis for its exemption under Section 501 IRS.”

The Tax Reform Act of 1969 extended the tax on unrelated business income to all Section 501(c) organizations, including churches.

Unrelated business taxable income is defined as gross income derived by any organization from any unrelated trade or business carried on by it, less allocable deductions (i.e. related expenses) directly connected with the carrying on of such trade or business.

Some examples of potential unrelated business income are advertising, rental income, Games of Chance, Bazaars, Bingo, Day Care Centers, Cemetery and income from debt financed property.

Transactions that yield unrelated business income tax (UBIT) have the following characteristics:

Following are ten questions to test the potential for UBIT:

If the answers to the first four questions are Yes, and the answers to the last six questions are No, then the activity is not likely to trigger unrelated business income tax. Otherwise, the activity must be reported on a Form 990-T tax return and the applicable taxes paid.

The determination of UBIT is a tax and legal question. If in doubt, obtain professional counsel or contact the Finance Department for more information.





Donor Name

Donor Address

Dear <insert salutation> <insert donor name>,

This receipt acknowledges your donation to <insert church name> in the amount of _______________.

<Insert church name> has not provided, in whole or in part, any goods or services to the above named donor in exchange for this gift.

Thank you for your generous support. Your continued contributions are greatly appreciated.



A descriptive heading under which are recorded transactions that are similar in reference, purpose, designation, or objective


The obligation of an entity or responsible person to give an accurate, complete, timely, and clear report of performance to related parties who may be interested

Accounting Period 

A period at the end of which, or for which, financial statements are prepared. The most common accounting periods are monthly, quarterly, and fiscal year

Accounts Payable 

Liabilities on open accounts owed to persons, firms, or organizations for goods and services received by the parish but not yet paid for

Accounts Receivable 

Amounts owed to the parish by other parishes, individuals, or organizations

Accrual Basis 

A GAAP approved method of accounting that records revenues when they are earned, not necessarily when the money is received; and records expenses when they are incurred, not necessarily when they are paid for

Accrued Expense 

An obligation (liability) to pay for goods / services received on credit, but not yet paid for


Items of value held by a parish and used in current operations as well as having utility value for future operations. Examples include cash, buildings, furniture, equipment , and land


The examination of documents, records, reports, systems, internal controls, procedures, and other information to determine the propriety, legality, completeness, timeliness, mathematical accuracy of transactions, and GAAP compliance of financial statements and accounts

Balance Sheet 

A financial statement component presenting the financial position of the parish at a given moment in time, including assets, liabilities, and equity


Gifts received from the disposition of a will; treated as an Extraordinary Receipt in Schedule M [general ledger account

Book Value 

The net amount at which an asset, liability, or equity account is initially recorded on the books. The initial recording should be at cost (a.k.a. historical cost), however, if the market value of an asset drops below historical cost then the Book Value should be reduced to market value [LCM Convention, Lower of Cost or Market]


A financial plan detailing estimated future revenues and expenses for a given period; organized by function, activity, department, project, or operations


The acquisition of a plant asset or improvement that will be used in current operations as well as providing utility for future operations; including land, buildings, major equipment, building additions, remodeling that brings new utility online, and major improvements to grounds that add utility

Cash Basis 

A method of accounting that records revenues when the cash is received (not necessarily when earned), and records expenses when they are paid (not necessarily when incurred) without regard to the proper accounting period in which the transactions were initiated; the cash basis of accounting does not comply with GAAP

Chart of Accounts 

A listing of the accounts used in the accounting system including account numbers and descriptive account titles; the accounts are arranged along functional lines with Balance Sheet accounts first, followed by revenue accounts, and then Expense accounts


Salary, stipends, wages and fringe benefits paid to, or on behalf of, employees

Deferred Revenue 

Revenue that is received in advance of the services to be rendered, also called “unearned income”; represented as a liability on the balance sheet until the services are rendered and the income is actually earned


Payments in cash or checks for expenditures including asset acquisition, payment of bills, purchases, purchase of investments, and cash refunds


Accounting system requiring balanced entries with equal amounts of debits and credits posted to the appropriate accounts


The complete recording of a transaction in a journal; or the posting from a journal to the appropriate ledger


Portable property used in operations; may be recorded as an asset on the balance sheet if cost in excess of $1,000, does not include consumables such as cleaning supplies


Charges incurred for goods and services received and (1) either paid for in cash, or (2) purchased on credit whether paid for or not, and used in parish operations

Fiduciary Responsibility 

In the handling of money and when one acts as a parish Pastor, Trustee, administrator, employee, or representative there is a fiduciary responsibility owed to the parish and church at large. It is defined as the relationship imposed by law where someone has voluntarily agreed to act in the capacity of a “caretaker” of another’s rights, assets and/or well being. The fiduciary [pastor, employee, administrator, trustee] owes an obligation to carry out the responsibilities with the utmost degree of “good faith, honesty, integrity, loyalty and undivided service of the beneficiaries [parish/church] interest.” The good faith has been interpreted to impose an obligation to act reasonably in order to avoid negligent handling of the beneficiaries interest as well the duty not to favor ANYONE ELSES'S INTEREST (INCLUDING THE TRUSTEES OWN INTEREST) over that of the beneficiary. Further, if the agent should find him/herself in a position of conflicting interests, the agent must disclose the dual agency (acting for two parties at the same time) or risk being accused of constructive fraud in regards to both or either principals. [E. F. Moody]

Fiscal Year 

Any twelve month period, at the end of which the books are closed and a determination of the operating results for the year is made


“A fund is an accounting entity with a self-balancing set of accounts consisting of assets, liabilities, and a fund balance. Separate accounts are maintained for each fund to insure observance of limitations and restrictions placed on the use of the resources.” [Fundamental Concepts of Financial Accounting and Reporting, NACUBO]

General Ledger 

An organized, comprehensive grouping of accounts that summarize financial transactions, supported by subsidiary detail ledgers

Impressed Petty Cash 

A cash fund with an established balance for incidental purchases that is periodically replenished by trading receipts (substantiation) for a “petty cash replenishment check” up to the impressed balance, and recording expense(s) to the appropriate general ledger expense account(s)


Formal record of original (initial or first) entry for financial transactions


Debt or legal obligations arising from transactions in the past which are payable in the future (though not necessarily due at the time of initial entry on the books; an example is dating given by a vendor to the parish that allows a certain number of days before the bill must be paid)

Market Value 

A recently quoted price; or price at which a seller is willing to sell, and a buyer is willing to purchase, in a fair, arms-length transaction


Information that when, after full consideration of relevant factors and surrounding circumstances, is of such a nature that its disclosure [or lack thereof] would alter the presentation of financial position and thereby influence the judgment of the reader

Plant Assets 

The physical property owned by the parish and used in operations including land, buildings, capital improvements, and equipment


A written promise to contribute a stated amount, usually within a specified time frame; while a pledge may be legally binding on the donor, in practice a parish would not seek legal satisfaction in case of default

Prepaid Expenses 

Expenses booked in the accounts for benefits that will be received in the future, such as prepaid insurance and prepaid rent


Money received from collection offerings, service fees, donations, contributions, sales, fundraising, interest and dividends earned on investments, bequests [extraordinary receipt] and related operating activities


The movement of a balances from one general ledger account to another general ledger account(s); the movement of cash from one asset account to another asset account on the books based on a similar physical movement of cash between actual bank accounts; usually transfers affect balance sheet accounts only, however, entries to correct certain posting errors in revenue or expense accounts can take on the characteristics of a transfer entry

Unearned Income 

Revenue that is received in advance of the services to be rendered, also called “unearned income”; represented as a liability on the balance sheet until the services are rendered and the income is actually earned; sometimes also called Deferred Revenue


Business records can be classified into two categories, permanent and temporary. Temporary business records may be discarded periodically. Permanent business records should never be destroyed.

Permanent Records 

Permanent records may be referred to for an indefinite period of time and are archived (preserved and protected). Such records include:

Parish Permanent Binder

Every parish must maintain a binder containing the following documents and records. This binder is part of the permanent parish archive:

- Certificate of Incorporation

- Title for parish property including church, school, convent, hall, land etc

- Tax Exempt Determination Document

- Annual Financial Reports

- Minutes to Annual Meetings, all Trustee Meetings, Finance Committee Meetings, other community meetings

- Monthly financial statements for prior year, and current fiscal year-to-date

- Documentation for purchase and sales of any property

- Documentation for all restricted donations

- Documentation for all Bequest gifts received

- Documentation for all in-force contracts, and seven years worth of expired contracts

Temporary Records

Temporary records should be organized and stored in an orderly manner to facilitate retrieval of information and eventual disposal. Following are suggested guidelines for record disposal along three or seven year time-lines. Some discretion is advised in deciding which of the following records should be destroyed and when.

Be aware that some records are extremely sensitive and/or confidential (ex. payroll records, earnings statements). Sensitive/Confidential documents should be thoroughly shredded prior to disposal.

Seven Year Records

The following records should be retained for at least seven years. If at that time the records are irrelevant and have no historical significance, they may be destroyed.

Three Year Records

Computer Records

Maintaining a large volume of hard copy documentation can be costly (storage) and cumbersome (difficult to maintain). Computers allow information to be retained economically and in very little space. While advantageous, electronic data archival requires special procedures such as file back-up, hard disk defragmentation, system diagnostics and maintenance.

Computer technology has been advancing rapidly. Obsolescence of hardware and software is of concern regarding long term archival of data. It is imperative that administrators consider compatibility, both forward and backwards, when making decisions about computer equipment.

Care and Feeding of Computer Equipment

Hardware should be secured in a sturdy, well-ventilated work area in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions. The computer and work area should be kept clean using only materials (cleaners) and methods recommended by the manufacturer. Computer equipment and media (diskettes, floppies, monitors, hard drives, tapes, etc) are susceptible to static electricity and electromagnetic fields, both of which should be avoided.

Ideally, the computer CPU and monitor should be powered from a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). A UPS allows the operator to perform an orderly system shutdown in the event that the power goes off. A UPS also regulates the power going to the attached equipment and protects against power surges, brownouts and line current fluctuations. This can prevent both equipment damage and loss of data. UPS systems are sized based on the amount of reserve time they can supply during a power outage. A minimum of five minutes of reserve time is recommended.

Back Ups

Hard drives fail. This is not negotiable. When (not if) the hard drive fails, all of the data that was stored on it is lost.


A hard disk crash is not the only way to lose valuable data. A hard drive will purge its contents if the operator, either accidentally or deliberately, commands it. Files may be inadvertently purged or become corrupted due to operator error or hardware/software malfunction.

There are software applications that can perform automatic back ups. Microsoft Windows has a built-in back up utility. QuickBooks Pro accounting software and PDS Ledger both have a built in back up utility.

Back Up media [floppy disk, tapes, CD-R] should be stored in a safe place, away from excessive heat and electromagnetic fields. A fireproof safe rated for media storage is ideal. It is an excellent practice to secure a duplicate back up off-site, such as in a bank safety deposit box.

It is a good practice to use multiple sets of back up media (diskettes, zip disks, tape, etc) which should be clearly labeled. For example: keep five sets of media, one for each weekday. Each Monday perform the daily back up on the media marked Monday. Similarly, do the same for each subsequent day. If a back up disk fails, you still have the previous day(s) as a “back up”.

See also: Backup in IT Procedures


The Diocese of Syracuse operates programs designed to assist parish administration. The programs have enabled greater utilization of parish resources by containing costs, taking advantage of volume discounts, and pooling resources to increase return on investment and reduce risk.


The Diocese of Syracuse Investment Fund provides a superior opportunity for parishes to invest surplus funds in a professionally managed stock/bond portfolio. By pooling diocesan and parish resources, larger blocks of money can be invested yielding earnings than would otherwise be unavailable to many parishes individually.

The Diocesan Finance Committee provides professional advice and counsel, while the portfolio is managed by a division of Dermody, Burke & Brown. The committee meets regularly to review fund performance, and to plan investment strategy.

Diocese of Syracuse Investment Fund investments are made only in U.S. Government and highly rated corporate securities, fully insured certificates of deposit, and the highest quality money market funds.

Diocese of Syracuse Investment Fund offers greater flexibility to parishes than conventional CD’s. Withdrawals from the Diocese of Syracuse Investment Fund are allowed without the significant penalties imposed by typical CD investments. Additionally, diocesan investment policies conform to the Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines [prescribed moral and social principles] as set forth by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. There is no minimum deposit required to open an account. Special subsidiary accounts can be established for parish cemeteries, schools, restricted endowment funds, building funds or other segregated funds.

The most significant difference between the Diocese of Syracuse Investment Fund and the former Diocesan Pooling is that earnings are no loner capped by the set interest rate previously paid on deposits. The Diocese of Syracuse Investment Fund, while very conservative with respect to risk exposure, does follow the market and can result in monthly net unrealized losses in any given month. However, on an annualized basis the fund has demonstrated to yield positive earnings. Regular account statements detailing the beginning balance, deposits, withdrawals, earnings, and ending balance for each account are provided monthly.


A Resolution authorizing borrowing must be approved by the parish Trustees. A proposal is forwarded to the Chancery for review and approval by the Bishop and Chancellor. Once approved, a repayment schedule is arranged through the Diocesan Finance Office. Loans are not approved to fund operating deficits.

Deposit and Loan Fund #1 

Deposit and Loan Fund #1 (D&L#1) is the original loan servicing system administered through the Chancery. Those loans have specific lenders and borrowers [based on original agreements between loaning and borrowing parishes], and are administered through the Finance Office. Payments of principal and interest are remitted to the Finance Office by the borrowers, and each quarter the lenders receive those proceeds.

Deposit and Loan Fund #2 

Deposit and Loan Fund # 2 is a general loan pool funded by investment account deposits of parishes with surplus funds. These deposits are not tied to a specific loan or borrower. Depositors [lenders] receive quarterly interest payments and the amount of their investment remains constant. Borrowers of loan funds repay the fund with interest quarterly. The principal component of the loan payments remains in the pool for future loans.


The Protected Self Insurance fund (PSI) provides uniform, all-risk insurance coverage under one comprehensive plan for all parishes and organizations of the diocese. Under this plan the diocese assumes risk up to a certain level after which outside insurance coverage begins.

The following items are covered under PSI:

Special Events Insurance 

If Church property is rented to others for gatherings, particularly when liquor is served, the person or organization must provide a certificate of insurance naming the parish or other entity, diocese and Bishop as “Additional Named Insureds.” No such certificates are required from parishes or other diocesan entities. If a person or outside [non-diocesan] organization who wishes to use diocesan property does not have insurance and only wants to use the premises for a special event, they may purchase a special events policy. This is purchased through the Risk Management Office at the Chancery.

Excluded From PSI Coverage- The following items are excluded from coverage in the program:

Since the diocese assumes some degree of responsibility and risk for claims, the success of this program relies on the cooperation of each parish. An awareness of safety conditions is a key element. Please refer to the Property Management section of this manual.

Annual billings for PSI coverage premiums are sent from the Finance Office. The policy renews on July 1st of every year. A payment of 50% of the total premium is due upon receipt of the billing. The balance is due in two 25% installments. Prompt payment is important since the diocese must pay the entire premium to outside insurance carriers shortly after the new contract goes into effect.


Employers, including parishes, are required to pay for Unemployment Insurance in compliance with New York State Department of Labor regulations. Unemployment Insurance is billed to parishes quarterly, as described below.

Each parish has a Federal Employer Identification Number, also known as an EIN (employer identification number). This number should be used on all tax filings and referenced in all correspondence related to federal employment taxes.

Each parish must have a New York State Employer Registration number. The NYS Employer Registration number is an eight digit number configured as a two digit number, a hyphen, and then six digits. The first two numbers for a parish ER number should be a 04- prefix, indicating that the parish is an unemployment insurance Benefit Reimbursement Option employer (described below).

Unemployment Insurance can be very costly if handled improperly. For this reason, PeopleSystems has been contracted to represent the diocese, schools, and parishes. PeopleSystems acts as a liaison between the diocese / parishes and New York State for matters relating to unemployment and disability insurance. PeopleSystems handles all matters pertaining to assignment, registration, application, and changes for parish NYS Employer Registration numbers.

While it is not the intention of the diocese to deny benefits to anyone deserving of them, benefits should not be paid unnecessarily, nor in excess of required amounts. PeopleSystems assists parish administration in making such determinations.

Parishes of the Diocese of Syracuse administer unemployment and disability insurance under the Benefit Reimbursement Option. Under this plan, unemployment benefits are paid to former employees by New York State and the state is then reimbursed for the amount of those benefits directly by the diocese. Parishes pay unemployment and disability insurance premiums directly to the diocese each quarter, not to the state, based on a quarterly diocesan Unemployment and Disability Insurance billing. Parishes prepare the billing based on their payroll information and send a copy with checks payable to the Diocese of Syracuse each quarter. The information in the quarterly diocesan billing report must be consistent with the payroll information filed with the parish quarterly NYS-45 tax return.

Parishes are billed on a state form named the Notice of Benefit Reimbursement Charges quarterly by NYS for the amount of unemployment benefits paid out in that quarter. Usually those billings are directed to the diocese by the state. Occasionally, the Notice of Benefit Reimbursement Charges bills are directed to the parishes. If a parish receives such a bill, they should direct it to the diocesan finance department immediately so that it can be paid. Parishes should not pay the bill themselves, nor should they remit unemployment and/or disability taxes directly to the state through their NYS-45 filings or otherwise. The diocese must remit the billed amount to NYS within approximately 15 days from the end of each quarter.

The rates and thresholds for Unemployment and Disability insurance premiums are different for parishes than those published for Tax Based Option employers. Unemployment and Disability premiums are paid on a specified amount of gross wages paid to each parish employee annually. Rates are subject to change; parish administrators will be advised by the diocese of any future rate and/or threshold changes.

The following classes of employees must be included in the calculation of, and payment of, unemployment insurance premiums: regular employees (full and part-time), all aliens (legal or illegal), casual labor, laborers under the age of 21 working for nonprofit organizations, children under age 14 working for nonprofit organizations, musicians and performing artists. Clergy and members of religious orders must not be included in the calculation of, and payment of, unemployment insurance premiums. Disability forms should be emailed to:

New York State Department of Labor and/or the Bureau of Labor Statistics occasionally requests information from parishes. It is the responsibility of parish administration to determine whether such information requests are applicable to the parish, and if so to comply with the request.

Please note that the diocese and all parishes are exempt from filing Form 940, the Internal Revenue Service form for federal unemployment insurance.


Employers, including parishes, must pay for Disability Insurance in compliance with New York State Disability Insurance regulations. Disability insurance provides benefits to employees unable to work due to non-work related circumstances.

Pomco administers Disability Insurance on behalf of the diocese and parishes, including payment of benefits.

Parishes are billed quarterly for Disability Insurance premiums. The quarterly premium worksheet describes the calculations upon which the disability insurance premium is based. Payments are sent to the Diocesan Finance Office quarterly.

Please note that High School students are excluded from disability coverage, so do not include their wages in calculating the disability insurance premium [unlike the calculation of unemployment insurance premium; NYS law requires their wages be included, even though they can not draw unemployment benefits].

Disability forms should be emailed to:


The Diocesan Health Insurance plan provides comprehensive health insurance coverage to all eligible employees. Employees that work 20 hours per week for seven consecutive months per year are eligible to enroll in the health insurance plan.

There are a variety of plan options available. Employees contribute towards the cost of their health insurance through payroll withholding; the employer pays for the bulk of the premiums.

Basic life insurance coverage is provided to all eligible employees at no cost to them. Supplemental life insurance coverage can be purchased at the employee’s expense.

Health and Life insurance premiums are billed monthly. The detailed bill lists the employees and their coverage. It is parish administration’s responsibility to maintain the billing roster and promptly inform the diocesan benefits department of all changes. For details on plan administration please refer to the Personnel and Benefits Administration Manual. Additional information is also available by calling the Employee Benefits Office at the Diocesan Finance Office.


The diocesan pension plan was established to provide for the retirement needs of lay employees of the Diocese of Syracuse. All lay employees that work 1,000 hours or more annually must be enrolled in the diocesan pension plan. Such enrollment is mandatory and may not be waived.

The plan is administered by Empower Retirement Services (formerly known as Great West). There are quarterly billings; payments are directed to Empower Retirement Services. Each parish is responsible for notifying Empower Retirement Services of all changes on the monthly billing roster. Employee W-2 information must be provided annually.

For more information on plan administration please refer to the Personnel and Benefits Administration Manual. Additional information is also available by calling the Employee Benefits Office at the Diocesan Finance Office.


The Chancery acts as a third-party conduit for various National Collections including:

The schedule for those collections is sent out to all parishes from the Chancellor’s Office each year.

Seminary Assessment 

There is an annual assessment to provide educational support to seminarians studying for the priesthood. The assessment is billed to parishes annually and remitted to the Chancery Finance Office.

Clerical Fund Assessment 

There is an annual assessment to provide living allowances for retired priests of the diocese. The fund also provides for reimbursement of priest medical expenses that may not be covered by health insurance. The assessment is billed to parishes annually and remitted to the Chancery Finance Office.

Hope Appeal 

The annual Hope Appeal fund drive provides support to vital diocesan outreach programs. Parishes share in supporting the programs through an annual assessment, and remit proceeds to the Development Office [located at the Harrison Center].


Introduction::Payroll is often the largest category of expense for employers. Employee compensation is governed and inspected by Federal and State regulatory agencies. Due to this scrutiny, it is imperative that your parish complies with all payroll and personnel laws. You are encouraged (but not required) to use a Payroll Service to administer your payroll due to changing, increasingly complex tax laws and compliance issues. Payroll taxes must be withheld from all lay employee wages. Payroll tax withholding for priests is different than that of lay employees. Priests are considered as employees of the parish for Federal income tax purposes but are considered as self-employed for Social Security Administration purposes. Thus, parishes are forbidden from paying any FICA taxes for, or on the behalf of, priests. Instead, priests are required to pay SECA (self-employment) tax that is their contribution for social security benefits.

New York State Tax Department

New Hire Notification

PO Box 15119

Albany, NY 12212-5119

You may also fax the forms to the New Hire Notification fax line at (518) 463-4514.

Annual Filings

Quarterly Filings

The following forms must be completed on a quarterly basis:

Monthly and Periodic Filings (Appendix 7 -J)

You must deposit income tax withheld and both the employer and employee social security and Medicare taxes either monthly or semi-weekly. Since priests are self-employed for Social Security and Medicare tax purposes, their remuneration will not be included when calculating the parish’s portion of Social Security and Medicare Tax (FICA). Therefore, the priest’s remuneration will only be included on line 1 of Form 941 and not on lines 6 and 7.

Monthly Tax Depositors

Semi-weekly Tax Depositors

For more information on withholding and tax information order:

IRS Publication 15-Circular E, Employers Tax Guide and NYS Publication - NYS-50-NYS Guide to Withholding Tax and Wage Reporting

Third Party Disability Payments

An employee who is out on disability leave receives benefits from a third party payer, Pomco. The employer receives a notification of payments made along with all amounts withheld as these payments are made. In addition, a summary of all payments is sent to the employer at the end of each quarter.

403(b) Tax Sheltered Annuities (TSA’s)

A tax-sheltered annuity exempts a portion of gross wages from Federal and New York State income tax liability; deferring the liability for applicable taxes until a future date when the funds are withdrawn.

Section 125 and 143 Plans

Section 125 and 143 are pretax health benefit plans. Section 125 & 143 Plans are exempt from Federal and State Income Tax, as well as FICA (social security) tax. Section 125 & 143 Plan contributions must be included in the UI (unemployment insurance) wages reported on the NYS-45 (Part A, line 1 and Part C, column C).

Foreign Priests: Payroll Taxes

A foreign priest (clergy) with a “green card” is designated as a Resident Alien for U.S. income tax purposes. This tax status generally requires the same tax treatment as an U.S. citizen. Resident Alien taxpayers must obtain a social security number or an ITID (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). Parish administration must obtain a Form W-4 and NYS IT-2104. Foreign priests also have a dual tax status, they are considered to be employees for state and federal income tax purposes and are considered to be self-employed for social security and Medicare tax. Parishes may not withhold social security (FICA) or Medicare tax from clergy wages in the way they are required to withhold from lay wages. Rather, clergy must file quarterly self-employment returns and pay their social security and Medicare taxes quarterly. Optionally, clergy may elect to have additional federal withholdings to cover their social security / Medicare tax obligation by designating a fixed amount in Box 6 on their Form W-4. Their wages are treated just as other employee wages on the quarterly state and federal employment tax filings (941, NYS-45) submitted by the parish. Clergy are not eligible for drawing unemployment insurance benefits. Their wages are not included in the wages reported on the NYS-45 Part C Column C (or ATT Column C). Clergy wages must not be included in the wages reported on Federal Form 941 lines 6a or 7a (social security FICA and Medicare wage bases).

Foreign / Resident Alien clergy must file personal income tax returns. Before leaving the U.S., Resident Alien clergy must file a 1040-C and pay any outstanding taxes prior to departure. The 1040-C is not in lieu of the annual tax return filing which is still required.

Resident Alien clergy are subject to the NYS New Hire Notification Act. Parish administration must report to the state within 10 days of placement in the parish.


The form is organized into three parts. Part A has to do with Unemployment Insurance Wage reporting. Part B is for reporting NYS income tax withholding. Part C is for reporting both quarterly unemployment insurance wages, and annual NYS income tax wages and withholding. Details are as follows:

Each quarter you must report, by month, the number of employees who worked.

Part A

Only fill out line 1 of Part A. The amount reported is the sum of the quarterly wages paid to lay-person employees, including amounts contributed for TSA’s (tax sheltered annuities 403(b) plans) and Section 125 / 143 pretax health benefit plans. Do not include priest wages. [This total should match the total for Column C of Part C (or ATT).]

Part B

Report NYS income tax withholdings as you have in the past.

Part C Quarterly

Fill out Column A (social security number) and B (employee name) of either Part C or Form ATT depending upon the number of employees. If you have six or more employees you must use Form NYS-45-ATT . In Column C, fill in the quarterly UI wages for lay-person employees. UI wages include TSA and Section 124 / 143 benefit contributions.

Part C Annually

In the fourth quarter you must report the annual NYS wages for each employee (including priests) and the amount of annual NYS income tax withheld for each employee. These amounts are reported in Column D (annual SIT wages), and Column E (annual SIT withholdings). SIT (state income taxable) wages do not include TSA or Section 125 / 143 contributions. You must report annual SIT wage information on priests in Column D and Column E. NEVER fill in Column C (Part C or ATT) for a priest.

W-2’s for Priests

As of January 1, 1999 clergy wages are reported on a Form W-2 rather than a Form 1099 as previously done. There are several notable differences between filing Clergy W-2’s and lay employee W-2’s.

Clergy Employment Forms

Chart of Accounts

Organization of Chart of Accounts and Parish Financial Reports

Balance Sheet : Assets, Liabilities, Funds/Equity


Assets are resources established for the operations of the parish and are organized into three categories, (1) Operating Assets, (2) Plant Assets, and (3) Endowments. Descriptions of each follow.

Operating Assets 

cash, investment accounts, accounts receivable, inventory

Plant Assets (also referred to as Fixed Assets) 

Land, Buildings, Capital Improvements, Furniture, Equipment, Automotive Equipment, and Other Real property (example: art).


Funds established for specific programs and/or purposes with expressed (written) restrictions and/or directions for use of the funds. Examples include Scholarships, Cemetery Perpetual Care Funds, and some Building Funds. Restrictions may prevent use of the principal investment, requiring that only the interest earned on the invested funds may be used to fund the specific purpose for which it was established. Use of restricted (endowment) funds must be consistent with the wishes of the donor(s) and as such, those wishes should be in writing.


Liabilities are obligations (debts, credit) to pay money to other parties. Examples include Accounts Payable (example: money owed to vendors for goods/services purchased on credit), Taxes Payable (taxes and/or garnishments withheld from employee paychecks and due to the government), and Loans Payable (borrowed money).


Equity is the amount of money that would be left after paying all obligations and debts (liabilities) from the available resources (assets) on hand. Equity is increased by successful operations (income exceeding expenses) and decreased by operating losses and/or excessive debt.

Income Statement - Income and Expenses

Income / Revenue

Income, or Revenue by another name, is money received from parish operations. The income is organized in three Revenue Schedules characterized by the source of the funds: Schedule A- Regular Collections, Schedule B- Auxiliary Receipts, and Schedule C- Fundraising Receipts.

Schedule A 

Regular Collections: These are the monies given by parishioners during Mass and include Ordinary Offertory, Christmas/Easter/Holy Day Offertory, and Special Collections for Church Purposes [Flower, Fuel, Building Improvement Collections, etc.].

Schedule B 

Auxiliary Receipts: These monies are brought in from programs such as Religious Education, Donations from Parish Societies, Contributions for the Diocesan Newspaper, Youth Program Dues, Votive Shrines (candles), Stole Fees (marriages, baptism, funerals), and refunds of Hope Appeal Overages. Additionally, Rent income and Interest income is included in Schedule B.

Schedule C 

Fundraising Receipts: Includes monies raised through Games of Chance (bingo, bell-jar, raffles), Dinners, Bazaars / Festivals, and other fundraising activities.


Expense is the outflow of money disbursed for operations (including accruals to recognize the current effect of an obligation to pay for goods/services in the future). Expenses are organized into Expense Schedules along functional lines as follows:

Schedule D 

Salaries and Remuneration: Includes the gross wages of the pastor, staff, and religious stipends.

Schedule E 

Priest Fringe Benefits: Includes any Substantiated Clergy Business Expenses, Clergy Health/Life Insurance, Clergy IRA wages, annual Clergy Retreat and Educational expenses.

Schedule F 

Religious Allowances: Includes Religious Health Insurance premiums, Religious Retirement premiums, Religious Living and Transportation Expenses.

Schedule G 

Employee Fringe Benefits: Includes lay employee fringe benefit expenses including the Employer Share of FICA and Medicare expense, lay Unemployment and Disability Insurance premiums, lay Health/Life insurance premiums, and Pension premiums.

Since employees typically make a contribution towards the cost of their health care insurance through payroll withholding. Their contributions should be recorded as credits to G/L expense account #745-Health Insurance. This will yield the net amount of insurance expense to the parish. Any voluntary coverage for supplemental health and/or supplemental life is paid for entirely by the employee through payroll withholding. Those contributions are also credited to the G/L #745 Health and Life Insurance expense account to yield the net expense to the parish.

Schedule H 

Office Expense: Includes administrative expenses such as Postage, Telephone, Printing/Copying, Equipment Service Contracts, Office Supplies, Collection Envelopes, Bank Fees, Conferences/Workshops, Office/Computer Equipment [under $1,000 at cost each], and expense for Professional Services [legal, payroll processing, engineer, architect, fundraising].

Schedule I 

Program Related Expense: Includes Religious Education and Youth Program expense [not including payroll], Community Service and Human Development expense, Parish Life and Worship, Formation for Ministry, and Parish Council expenses.

Schedule J 

Rectory Household: Includes expenses for stocking food and cleaning supplies, rubbish removal, and cable for the rectory. Do not include repair and maintenance; that is reported in Schedule K.

Schedule K 

Building Operation and Maintenance: Includes all maintenance, repair, and utility expense for all parish buildings including the church, rectory, hall, convent, etc. Expenses should be organized by building if there are separate meters or a logical allocation for the expense can be determined.

Schedule L 

Other Expenses: Includes expenses for Parish Owned Automobiles/Trucks, Interest expense [on borrowed money], Diocesan Newspaper, Direct School Support and School Assessment expenses, Clerical Fund Assessment, and Tithing [money given to assist another parish].

Schedule M 

Extraordinary Receipts: Includes revenue from an Approved Capital Campaign, Bequests, Insurance Claim proceeds to cover casualty losses, Restricted / Endowment Donations, and proceeds from Heritage Campaign overage. This schedule also includes proceeds that are not operating revenues such as net gains on disposal of fixed assets and/or investments, and diocesan collections [detailed in Schedule O Collections].

Schedule M 

Extraordinary Disbursements: Includes disbursements that are not operating expenses such as Net Loss on Sale of Investments or Fixed Assets, and diocesan collections remitted [detailed in Schedule O Remittances], and capital improvements.

Schedule O 

Diocesan Collections: Proceeds from second collections (see list in chart of accounts, G/L #’s 671 through 690).

Schedule O 

Diocesan Collections Remitted: The amount remitted from the Diocesan second collections reported in the schedule above (see list in chart of accounts, G/L #’s 971 through 990).

Schedules P, Q, R, S, and T provide additional details on amounts reported in various balance sheet accounts. Schedules P Notes, Loans, and Mortgage Payable, Q- Cash Accounts, R- Investments, and S- Capital Improvements detail changes in account balances from the prior year fiscal end to the balance reported as of the current year report. Schedule T provides detail on the liabilities for Taxes and Payroll Payable [including benefits payable], and Accounts Payable [money owed to the diocese and/or vendors for goods/services purchased on credit during the fiscal year].

Summary of Cash Received and Disbursed

[a.k.a. Summary of Cash Flows]

The Summary of Cash Flows contains: (1) revenue and expense schedules from the Income Statement, (2) the amount of Operating Gain or (Loss) for the fiscal year, (3) the amount of Net Cash Inflow or (Outflow) for the fiscal year, (4) a reconciliation between the results reported in the Income Statement and the balances reported on the Balance Sheet, and (5) a detailed listing of any “reconciling items” including a thorough explanation of each item.

Examples of typical reconciling items include:

Standard Parish Chart of Accounts (Revision 4/3/2007)








Cash- Income


Endowment Fund Balance










Booster Club



SALARIES- Expense Schedule D

PRIEST ALLOWANCE- Expense Schedule E




Retirement- Religious

Living Allowances- Religious


OFFICE EXPENSE- Expense Schedule H



BUILDING / PLANT- Expense Schedule K

OTHER EXPENSES- Expense Schedule L



Total Schedule O- Trans to Schedule M



     Unrealized Loss on Investments



Unrealized Loss on Other Assets

Schedule O Remitted


Schedules A + B + C= Total Operating income

Schedules D thru L= Operating Disbursements

Operating Income (Loss)

Extraordinary Receipts

Extraordinary Disbursements

Net Cash In (Out)

Fiscal Year-End Closing Materials