(Madison TWP, PA) America’s church bookkeepers and other non-profit religious organizations have been left baffled on how to manage government bailout money being shoveled their way.
The U.S. Federal government’s unprecedented approval of a $2 trillion dollar Coronavirus economic relief package, has been celebrated by citizens across the country who believe that those in power are, indeed, eager to “…promote the general welfare” as guaranteed in the Constitution the best way it knows how: by blindly throwing money at a problem and hoping for the best.
While a majority of individuals excitedly await their relief checks to spend on a new TV or “connected” Amazon device to spy on them in their homes, some businesses and now non-profit organizations are wrestling with new accounting dilemmas that may come with the government-issued windfall.
America’s church accountants, for example, have no idea how to show the income or manage the reporting of operational expenses like greedy clergy payroll, stale communion wafers, and the gallons of distilled water bought from Walmart used to fill the holy water bowl. Money flowing in and expenses going out such as these typically need to be reported on annual Federal and State tax returns, but since these religious organizations are not required to file, church leaders are left shrugging their shoulders, not only on how, but whether to even account for the taxpayer-supplied bailout money.
Keeping social distancing standards in place, we met outside the Church of the First Redeemer in Madison Township, Pennsylvania to speak with their leadership on how they were managing and accounting for the funds.
“I am not sure how to classify the incoming relief money in the church’s books, since we aren’t required to file a tax return to the government handing us the tens of thousands of dollars,” said Edith Dooley, a born-again volunteer bookkeeper. “I suppose we could simply classify the funds as parishioner donations, since ultimately it did come from citizen taxpayers who could, in theory, attend our church or donate online if we had the means for them to do so,” she added.
“But using these funds could potentially violate the country’s sacred separation of church and state!” interjected Pastor Joel Robbins, before bursting into an outrageous fit of laughter lasting several minutes. The Pastor continued: “Edith, just do what you want, I’m late to pick up my new 4K TV from Costco.”
While this paradox is certain to cause similar confusion to other houses of worship nationwide, we can all rest better knowing our country’s moral center will make it through this crisis. With new High-Definition TVs.