Preparing Tax Statements for Congregants
In Seraphim, you can prepare and print or email your tax statements to your congregants. Because running tax statements is a pretty important function of your finance team, there are a number of items you'll want to pay attention to before, during, and after you run your tax statements.
Before You Run Your Tax Statements
1. Data Quality
Tax statements are only as good as your data. Before you run your tax statements, you'll want to do any end of the year data clean up to ensure statements are prepared properly. Below, you'll see some Data quality sections that you'll want to check out before running your tax statements.
NOTE: To view quality reports, go to the DIRECTORY tile, and click on the QUALITY tab in the left menu
Deleted Profiles with Giving Records
The name says it all. Check this section to see any deleted profiles that have giving records attached to them.
What to do: To undelete the record, go to the UnDelete tab in the DIRECTORY tile to find the profile and undelete the record.
Make sure to check on any Duplicate Records in the Quality section. If there are duplicate records, you may have financial data associated with both of them.
What to do: Merge any duplicate records to ensure all giving records are under one unified profile.
When you run your tax statements, we always recommend running the statements by "Head and Spouse" instead of by "Individual". Make sure that the following Head and Spouse issues are taken care of. (Each one has its own section in the Quality report)
- Missing Head of House
- Multiple Heads in Family Unit
- Multiple Spouses in Family Unit
What to do: Go to the Family unit and mark each individual with the appropriate family role.
2. White Label Emails
Because you have the option to send tax statements electronically, you'll want to make sure that you have a "white-label" email address configured.
A white-label is a unique email address that is configured for your church. You can call these white labels whatever you like! If you do not use a white-label email, congregants will receive their tax statements from a generic "Relay at Seraphim" email address. Most congregants won't know what that is and will probably ignore the email.
You do NOT want to send these mail statements from your personal Gmail account. You will hit the send limit and will be flagged as spam.
What to do: Check to make sure you have a white label email address configured under the Permissions tile in the Mail/SMS Credentials tab. If you do not see one listed in the Mail credentials box, contact Seraphim Care and we will set one up for you!
3. Check Funds and Fund Settings
You'll want to take a look at your fund settings. You can do this by going to the SETTINGS tile, and click on the CONTRIBUTIONS and FINANCE tab on the left menu. Specifically, are you tax deductibility settings correct?
What to do: Keep in mind, any changes you make to your funds, will NOT be applied to transactions retroactively. If you do need to make changes, contact Seraphim Care for any retroactive updates that need to take place.
4. Businesses are Properly Configured
Some folks give to the church via an associated business or organization. In order to tie these folks to these organizations, you'll want to make sure that any business and organizations are properly configured and attached to the right individuals.
What to do: Go to the DIRECTORY and make sure that all businesses are associated with the appropriate family. Search for the family, and see if the business is listed in the "Other" section of the family unit. If not, click "Edit Family" and add the business and select "Business" as the role.
5. Build Some Dynamic Groups for reference
This one is a proactive step. When you eventually run your tax statements, you'll receive a quick rundown of the percentages of individuals that have email address information and mailing address information. If you create come dynamic groups for the four following scenarios, you'll be able to use these groups to target congregants to update their information to get them their tax statements. We recommend you create a group for each of the following segments:
- Individuals with emails addresses
- Individuals without email addresses
- Individuals with mailing addresses
- Individuals without mailing addresses
How to Run your Tax Statements
After you take care of Data quality and making sure that things are set up properly, let's take a look at running your tax statements
Note: It's best to do a trial run or two before actually sending out your statements! There's a lot of components, and it's best to see what the process is like first. Use an individual record first to test with before you start sending/printing statements.
1. Getting started
- Go to the FINANCE menu, and click on the STATEMENTS tile.
- On the first screen, and make sure the proper date range is selected
2. Choosing Recipients
- Click on the RECIPIENTS tab
- In the "Collect Contributions For" drop-down menu, select "Head and Spouse Only" or "Individual
Note: We always recommend that you run tax statements for "Head and Spouse Only". This keeps giving records under the same household. Selecting "individuals" will also increase your statement count drastically.
When you're just testing things out, select "Individual" so you can just search for your test record.
- If you run your statements for Head and Spouse only, choose "Family name" in the Type of Header for each statement selection.
- If you run your statements for individuals, choose "Individual's full name" in the Type of Header for each statement selection.
Choosing who you want to run the statements for
In the next drop-down menu, here you're going to choose how you'd like to search for individuals that you'd like to run the statements for.
We have several different methods for doing this:
- By Group (Individual) - If you have a specific group of Individuals that you want to run statements for, this is a good option.
- By Group (Head of Household) - Like the option above, if you have a specific group of folks you'd like to run statements for, but you want to see the Head of Household for those individuals to choose from, use this option.
- Given by Amount - We always recommend this option! The "Given by amount" allows you to choose a range of giving, and run the statements for anyone that gave that total amount for the year.
- Pledged and Gave - If your church tracks pledges heavily, maybe you'd like to run your statements for folks that pledged and gave
- Pledged but Never Gave - Conversely, you might also want to search for folks that didn't fulfill their pledges at all.
- Search for Anyone - If you just want to pick out a specific person and run that statement, then this is your best option. (Since you'll be running a test first, use the "Search for Anyone" option, and find your test record that way).
Once you've selected how you'd like to search for people, check the boxes next to any people that you'd like to run statements for.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:
We Always recommend choosing your recipients based off of the "Given by Amount". By default, the given amount is from $0.00 - $1,000,000.00. Most churches will push the range to $250.00 - $1,000,000.00. With this method, you can run statements in batches, thereby weeding out unnecessary statements for small giving amounts. You'll need to repeat the statement process for each given amount group.
3. Including Pledges on your Statements
- Click on the PLEDGES tab
- Select how you would like your pledges to appear on your statements.
Most Churches do not include Pledges on their Tax Statements. However, if your church does want to include these pledges, we have two options:
- Show Pledges constrained by Start/End Date: This option will include pledge transactions that fell within the start and end dates of the statements that you're currently preparing.
- Show Pledges total retirement: This option will include the total retirement of active pledges regardless of whether the giving occurred within the start and end dates of the statements.
4. Customize Your Statements
Because every church is different, we've offered up a number of customization options for your statements so they include the information that you want.
- Click on the CUSTOMIZE tab
- Select your country
- Choose the items you'd like to include in your statements by checking the appropriate boxes:
Generating a Mail Merge
You can choose to generate a mail merge file during this process as well. Simply select the "Generate a Mail Merge File in this directory:" option. Then you can copy and paste the file path where you'd like the file to save to. By default, it will go to your downloads folder.
This will create a txt. file that you can use to create labels, letterheads, etc. It's up to you!
Customized Message on Statement
Additionally, you may want to add a custom thank-you message on your statement. This message section is designed for one or two lines of plain text and is not meant to be a large email. The simpler the better.
Restricting Funds and Pledges
If you'd like to restrict which funds are actually included in this statement, check the box for "Restrict and show only these Funds on the statement". A list of your funds will appear. Check the boxes next to the appropriate funds.
You can do the same thing for Pledges. Check the box for "Restrict and show only these Pledges (by Fund) on the statement". A list of your funds will appear (because pledges are tied to funds). Check the boxes next to the appropriate funds.
5. Prepare Your Tax Statements
- Click on the PREPARE tab
- Click on the PREPARE Statement button
Now, this isn't actually sending the statements yet. You can go through this process, up through the prepare step as much as you want, and no one will receive their statements until you take an action on the Delivery Tab.
After you click on the Prepare Statement button, you may have to wait for a few moments for the statements to prepare fully, depending on how many people are included in your batch of statements. Although it may be tempting, don't click the button a second time!
When the statements have been prepared, you'll get a "Deliverability" report that will appear below the "Prepare Statement" button:
This information is very helpful for our next step of the process: Delivery! Here you can get a quick idea of how many people have email addresses, and how many have mailing addresses. Remember the four dynamic groups you recommended at the beginning of this article? Heres where they can come in handy. If you find that you have a good number of people that don't have either a mailing address or an email, you'll want to check those groups and make any updates as necessary, that way you can guarantee that folks receive their statements!
Remember, you can go through the Prepare step as many times as you want without sending statements, adjust any info as necessary, and when you're ready, proceed to the next step.
Finally, it's time to deliver your tax statements. You can either:
- Create a PDF and save/print your tax statements
- Send your tax statements to congregants via email
Printing Tax Statements
To print your tax statements, simply make sure the "Print the Tax Statements" radio button is selected, then click on the PRINT button.
After you click the PRINT button, a PDF will generate
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:
Do NOT print your PDF statements directly from this window. We always recommend Saving the PDF to your computer, then printing from your PDF viewer.
The reason for this is that if you have a massive document, let's say 2,000+ statements, your printer may not be able to handle a print job like this. Saving the document first, then allows you to print the document in consumable chunks.
Emailing Tax Statements
- If you instead want to send tax statements by email, select the radio button for Deliver Online Tax Statements.
- In the drop-down box, select the appropriate white label email address that you'd like the statements to be sent from.
Since you're sending these statements via email, you have the option of writing a full email message out to your recipients in the text editor. Since you're sending high volumes of emails, the simpler the message the better.
- You can also use Merge fields for the system to autofill for each recipient. See the Merge fields and syntax listed above the "Email Statements" button.
- Once you're ready to send your statements via email, do a final check, and click the EMAIL STATEMENTS button.
- On the confirm screen, click on the YES button to send the emails.
- Once you confirm, you will get another message informing you that the messages have been queued up. Because of the email queue, it could take some time to send out the emails, so don't panic if you don't see it come through right away. Not to worry!
Note: Do NOT double-click the Email button! As soon as you click the button, the emails have been queued up. Double-clicking the Email button will send the statements twice.
After you Run your Tax Statements - FAQ's
How do I send tax statements to children?
Because you're usually sending tax statements to adults, this isn't a common request, but sometimes churches want to send a giving statement to the kiddos.
To do this, all you'll want to do is set up a group in the Directory for children younger than 18 that have the last giving date greater than or equal to Jan 1st of the tax year. Then you can run a separate batch of statements just for that group!
I sent out tax statements via email, and someone says they didn't receive the email. What caused this?
Most of the time, this is because the user has turned off "Receives Communications" on their profile. To turn this back on for someone:
- Go to the DIRECTORY
- Find the record and go to their profile
- Under the Contact Information section, turn on the flag for "Receives Communications"
Can I check a Deliverability report of some kind to see who received the email?
You bet you can! On the Delivery Page of the Statement, you can check a Deliverability report for any date that you sent tax statements. Just enter the date you sent the statements, and click the button for "Deliverability Report". This will give you a PDF of all the folks that were attempted, as well as the current status of that delivery.
If you have any further questions about sending tax statements, do not hesitate to reach out to our Seraphim Care team. We're happy to help!