Capitalising Expenses as Fixed Assets – What Level?

Recently the government have made announcements about taxable entities being able to write off smaller capital purchases less than $5,000 for tax purposes.  This has been done in response to COVID-19 but how does this relate to end of year financial reporting for us?

The view that we need to report fixed assets in according with tax legislation sounds a simple approach but is the wrong starting point.  What is a “asset” and therefore should be capitalised is determined by the financial reporting standards NOT by the IRD.

An “asset”is defined, for financial reporting purposes,  as a resource controlled by the entity as a result of past events (which would usually be transactions), from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the entity.

In the past the Church has said that items under $500 would be written off rather than capitalised but it really depends on the item.  Should we capitalise a mobile phone, fax machine, computer printer, etc which costs $475.00 be capitalised so we know we have one and one we can track?

The Board of Administration has not changed its stance about capitalising expenditure over $500.  However, look at the item and see if it at asset and if you need to monitor it and track it.

End of Methodist Church Accounting Blog Site

This is to let all users know that from 31 August 2020 this site is going to be removed and no more posts will be sent to you from it.  The Connexional Office is looking at a new way to deliver up to date information and resources using a new system.  More information will be sent to Treasurers within the Methodist Church closer to the time.

Donation Management System – Celeme

Are you currently using Celeme?

Auckland Central Parish is investigating, with the approval of Celeme developer Alec Utting, how we can migrate Celeme onto a modern platform.

As you are aware, Celeme provides tax donation receipts which are compliant with NZ IRD requirements, produces envelope labels for those operating envelope systems and can report according to different congregations where the parish has multiple congregations.  Unfortunately Celeme does not operate so well on the latest versions of Windows, hence the thought around getting it upgraded to a modern platform.

Auckland Central Parish is investigating this as a specific project, and would appreciate knowing which other parishes are using Celeme, what their current experiences are with this product, and whether parishes would like to continue to use Celeme on another platform, if we can implement this change.  Please contact Auckland Central Parish Finance Manager Julie Adamson or phone 09-373-2869 with your thoughts and feedback.

If you are using another product, we would also like to know this OR if you would consider using a new product that was developed then let us know also.

Thank you.

Coding of COVID-19 Wage Subsidises

For some parishes and entities within the Church, they would have received wage subsidies from the government (via the Connexional Office) to enable them to keep people employed.

The scheme was introduced to keep people in employment during the lockdown period.

We need to deal with the accounting issues that arise for us.

There are two parts.

  1. The gross payment of wages and salaries should be coded in the normal manner so that the accounting system reflects the true costs of employment and ministry costs associated with the presbyter and employees within the parish. There is no change here.
  2. The wage subsidy payment that the parish receives should be coded into grants received, as income. There is no need to set up a special code within the accounting system but you may wish to include a reference to COVID19 wage subsidy when the transaction is coded.

In your report to the Parish Council you may wish to highlight the amount received.

For the end of year financial statements there will be no need (in most cases) to show the amount as a separate amount as it is not significant or material when you take into account all of the income and expenses of the parish.  If the amount received in the whole of the financial year is significant and material then there will be an obligation to show it as a separate amount. However parishes needing to show the wage subsidy as a separate amount will be few, in my view.

If the parish does wish to detail the amount received, I would suggest a note in the accounts under “Other Information” a note that reads something like:

Within Grants Received is an amount of $x,xxx which relates to the wage subsidy received during the COVID-19 lockdown during March to June 2020.

Wage Subsidies-Methodist Entities

I hope this post finds you safe and warm at home.

This post is intended for Methodist and Co-operating Parishes as well as Synods of the Methodist Church who use the Connexional Payroll System.

Most of you will be aware that the government have announced wage subsidiaries for employers and these can be applied for by registered charities.  Attached to this post is an information bulletin that that has been distributed to the wider Church.  Please note that as far as I am aware they are correct as at 4.00pm last Friday.

You will see that it is recommended that Connexional staff help parishes and synods apply for these subsidies.  If you would like us to do this work, then please make contact with the person who normally processes your payroll for you.

Please read the conditions associated with the wage subsidy.  The Leave subsidy (different to the wage subsidy) was removed on Friday and no longer available.

Once the parish has indicated that they wish the Connexional Office to undertake the work, we will confirm with you the list of employees (including the Presbyter) you have.  If there are others that you need to claim for, let us know but as highlighted in the attached information sheet, we will require additional information.

We will also require the consent of the employee to release the information we will send as part of the application process to the Ministry of Social Development and Work and Income.  We are intending to send all employees on our payroll this request in bulk as in many cases we do not have the employees date of birth and will need to collect it. A copy of what we are going to send to them is attached also.  Employees can either fill in the form and return it or send us an email back saying they have read and understood its content and give their consent to release it.  Our understanding is that will be sufficient.

We are looking at making changes to the payroll system to show the subsidy amount received on employees pay slips and record the amount within the payroll system so there is an audit trail. It is important therefore, that if we are NOT making the subsidy application and you are, that you inform us of the employees you have applied for, the amount applied for each employee and the total amount received.

The accounting entries relating to the subsidy will be dealt with by a separate post.

Government COVID MCNZ ver2 27 March 2020

CONSENT TO RELEASE INFORMATION wage Subsidies ver1 27 March 2020

Charities Services-Annual Return-31 December 2019

Just a reminder that the Annual Return for most Methodist entities needs to be filed with Charities Services by 31 December 2019 as this is six months after the end of financial year.

When filing the Annual Return please also check that your Officers are still correct and that the address noted with Charities Services is correct.  The Annual Return process gives you the opportunity to check all the details held by Charities Services.

Performance Reports (end of Year Financial Statements) – 30 June 2019

Just a reminder that all Methodist Church entities that report either directly or indirectly to the Conference of the Methodist Church need to supply the General Secretary with a final signed copy of their Performance Report (financial statements) for the 12 months ending 30 June 2019 by 11 October 2019. PLEASE put a reminder in your diary or let the person doing the work know of the deadline.

These Performance Reports need to comply with generally accepted accounting practice, which for most Church entities means that they comply with the Tier 3 or Tier 4 reporting standards as issued by the External Reporting Board.

The Annual Return for those Church entities whose financial year end is 30 June 2019 (as set out in the Law Book) needs to include the Performance Report.  This needs to be filed with Charities Services by 31 December 2019.

Also a reminder that you need to also look at  your constitution and the Independent Assurance Policy of the Church to see if you also require an audit or review. For Parishes and Synods, the general rule is that if your operating expenditure is under $500,000 then you do not need either a review or an audit.  If your operating expenditure is between $500,000 and $1,000,000 then you will need to have a independent review undertaken.  If your operating expenditure is over $1,000,000 then you will need an audit.  For some entities it is mandatory that an audit or review to be undertaken.  This work needs to be undertaken by a qualified person. A qualified person is defined within the Financial Reporting Act as a person who is professional qualified to undertake the work.

If an independent audit or review IS undertaken, then any management report/letter received from auditor  or reviewer will also need to be sent to the General Secretary.

The Independent Assurance Policy can be found HERE .

Annual Returns to Charities Services-Its that Time of Year Again!!!!

For most of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, the financial year end is 30 June and therefore the Annual Return to Charities Services is due by 31 December.  The 31 December is coming up very quickly and therefore, if your entity (Parish, Synod, Charitable Trust, etc.) has NOT already filed its Annual Return and checked to make sure the Officers listed on the Charities Services website are correct PLEASE do so as quickly as possible.

You will need your annual accounts that comply with the  financial reporting standards that were mandatory three years ago.

In the past Charities Services have given time extensions but their stance on this is hardening and extensions of time are becoming more difficult to obtain.  The Annual Return takes about 20 minutes to 30 minutes to complete (assuming you have all the correct information) and can be done online.

If you require assistance, please let Peter van Hout at the Board of Administration know.

Overpayment Scam Targeting Charities

We have been informed that online scammers are targeting New Zealand charities with an overpayment scam. The scammers are targeting all donation channels including donation forms on charity websites, phone donations as well as third party online platforms.


We have been advised that scammers are making donations using stolen credit card details. After donating, they will contact the charity directly to request a refund for a claimed overpayment. They may give realistic excuses, such as trying to convince you they intended to donate $100 instead of $1,000 and will experience personal hardship if the money is not returned. They may imply they are calling on behalf of a donor or are the donor themselves.


They ask you to return the overpayment to a bank account or a different credit card to the one used in the original transaction. The scammer hopes you will return the money before realising the donation was fraudulent.


If you receive a direct refund request for a donation, always review the transaction details with the entity who processed the transaction before agreeing to a refund.


Never agree to refund a credit card donation to a bank account or a different credit card. Be wary of online donors who claim they’ve donated too much or made an error when entering their donation amount.

External Reporting Board-Consulting on Reporting Standards

Most of you will know that there were significant changes to the financial reporting standards about 5 years ago which also impacted upon the information needed to be returned to Charities Services.

During the consultation period of ” Modernising the Charities Act” which the Department of Internal Affairs managed earlier in the year, there was some discussion about having reporting exemptions or lower reporting standards for “micro” charities.

If you are interested then you may wish to attend this webinar run by the External Reporting Board on the review of the reporting standards.

To find out more and register CLICK HERE.