Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 4: ACCOUNTS PAYABLE & ACCRUED EXPENSES

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 4: ACCOUNTS PAYABLE & ACCRUED EXPENSES

[ Blog/News ]

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 4: ACCOUNTS PAYABLE & ACCRUED EXPENSES

We introduced you to receivables as part of a balance sheet in our last blog, which was the third in our Reading Financial Statements Series©. In this and following blogs we will explore more typical association balance sheet accounts payable and accrued expenses in more detail. 

Now we come to the part of a financial statement that deals with accounts payable and accrued expenses. A payable is something the association owes to another entity or person. It is a liability of the association.
What Causes A Payable To Occur?

Generally, accounts payables are recorded when an association has received goods or services, and the related vendor invoice, but has not yet paid the invoice.

What Is Your Accounting Basis?

In other articles and blogs, we have referred to the basis of accounting. This is very important for readers of financials to understand.

To recap:

  • Cash Basis: Revenues recorded when cash is received, expenses recorded when paid.
  • Accrual Basis: Revenue recorded when earned/billed, expenses recorded when incurred.

By definition, when using the cash basis of accounting, an association will not record a vendor expense until an invoice is paid.  What happens if a contract landscape invoice is submitted to the association for payment, but the invoice is not paid until the next month?

The association will not record landscape expenses in the current month under the cash basis of accounting. If an association uses the accrual basis of accounting, the landscape vendor invoice will be recorded as a payable, with a corresponding charge to landscape expense in the current month.  The expense is recorded together with the liability to pay for the expense.

Are Accrued Expenses Different From Accounts Payable?

Yes, technically accrued expenses are different, however the financial statement presentation is similar.  Typical accruals are recorded for expenses like utilities. Perhaps the utility company bills the association every two months.  At the end of month one, even though an invoice had not been received, the association should accrue one month of utility expense so that the financial statements present a reasonable estimate of the expense for the current month. If the association waited until it received the invoice for two months, it would be recording two months of expense in one month and zero expense in one month under the cash basis.

Full Accounting & Knowledge

We believe the full accrual basis of accounting provides associations and readers of financial statements with a more complete and accurate representation. End Of Article

By Newman CPA

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Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 3: RECEIVABLES

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 3: RECEIVABLES

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Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 3: RECEIVABLES

We introduced you to cash as part of a balance sheet in our last blog, which was the second in our Reading Financial Statements Series©. In this and following blogs we will explore more typical association balance sheet accounts and receivables in more detail. 

Receivables are an asset which is generally presented just below cash on the balance sheet. It represents amounts the association has the right to receive. Receivables are amounts due from other people or entities.

Assessments

For associations, the largest and most common receivable is for unpaid assessments. Most associations bill owners for assessments each month.  If an owner has not paid their monthly assessment by the due date, the assessment is considered a receivable from the owner.

Recording assessments revenues on the accrual basis without considering the effect of delinquent accounts receivable can mislead readers of an association’s statement of revenues and expenses.

Assessments are recorded when billed under the accrual method. Should there be an accumulation of delinquent accounts, the statement of revenues and expenses will continue to present results assuming 100% collection of outstanding assessments. Readers should always refer to an aging report to assess the status of assessments receivable.

What If An Association’s Board Of Directors Thinks That Not All The Amounts Due To The Association Are Collectible?

It is important not to overstate assets in an association’s financial statements.

Consideration should be given to providing for an allowance for uncollectible receivables. An allowance for the total receivables that a board determines might be uncollectible should be presented below receivables on the balance sheet.

The net of the two amounts should indicate to readers of the financial statements the amount the board expects to collect.

Bad Debt Expense

When an allowance for uncollectible accounts is recorded on the balance sheet, a second account, bad debt expense, is recorded on the statement of revenues and expenses.

Recording bad debt expense helps boards and managers to understand the effect of not collecting all amounts that are billed, thus providing a more realistic bottom line. End Of Article

By Newman CPA

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Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 2: CASH

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 2: CASH

[ Blog/News ]

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 2: CASH

We introduced you to balance sheets in our last blog, which was the first in our Reading Financial Statements Series©. In this and following blogs we will explore some typical association balance sheet accounts in more detail. 

CASH! Everyone likes cash! Associations are no different. Without enough cash, association management and community property can become neglected, often leading to future major repairs requiring loans and special assessments. Understanding what activities have the most impact on cash balances is vital to the future success of an association’s operations. As managers and board leaders, it is so important to review cash activity and balances continuously. Be proactive in a timely manner. Not reactive two years down the road.

Cash includes petty cash, checking, and money market accounts. Remember from the last blog, assets represent what an association owns. We recommend a serious review of cash every month. Cash balances are going to significantly impact an association’s ability to pay for budgeted expenses. Not addressing near term cash challenges can result in current and future budget constraints and economic pressure on the association and its members, including surprise assessment increases. (Please refer to our article on budgeting which discusses assessment increases, at www.hoacpa.com). 

Assessment Collections:

If you have significant owner delinquencies, your cash holdings will be negatively impacted. We recommend that you review the accounts receivable balances in conjunction with a review of cash balances every month. As assessments receivable/delinquencies increase, you will usually see a decrease cash balances. Addressing reductions in cash received compared to budgeted revenues will help you to determine if you also need to work on reducing expenses. Know how much money is received each month.

Contributions Of Assessments To The Reserves Fund:

Associations budget for monthly contributions of assessments to the reserves fund. When associations do not make payments from the operating fund to the reserves fund each month because there is not enough money in operating bank account, the reserves fund will start to be underfunded. The association still has a liability to fund reserves per its ratified budget. Not funding reserves because of operating fund shortages will lead to significant cash pressures as major repairs and replacements are deferred and future special assessments and loans may be required to fund expenditures. End Of Article

We will continue to address various aspects of cash management and controls surrounding cash in future blogs.

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Special Assessment Accounting. Aware. Diligent. Timely. Accurate. Complete.

Special Assessment Accounting. Aware. Diligent. Timely. Accurate. Complete.

[ Blog/News ]

Special Assessment Accounting. Aware. Diligent. Timely. Accurate. Complete.

Record keeping and accounting for special assessments should not be as challenging as it often is. Often, as auditors we find the accounting for special assessments is incomplete due primarily to changes of management companies, inadequate tracking of owners’ accounts and payments, accounting for special assessment receipts in the wrong fund, and/or special assessment forecasts are inadequate to determine if there will be sufficient funds to pay for all repairs or pay off a loan.
Assessment Records

We recommend a permanent file of special assessment documents, including:

  • Special Assessment notices to owners
  • Board minutes including documentation of special assessments:
    • Initial levy and approval by members
    • Monthly status
      • Amounts assessed to owners
      • Review owner special assessment amortization schedules
      • Amounts spent for the special assessment purpose
      • Financial status
        • Special assessment cash held
        • Special assessments receivable (billed but not received)
        • Remaining amounts to assess
        • Amounts spent to date
        • Projected remaining expenditure
        • Projected remaining debt service: principal and interest
        • Projected surplus or deficit
      • Conclusion regarding financial status

The information and data recommended above are critical. However, only accurate and complete record-keeping and accounting will provide a board with the data needed to understand the status of a special assessment project and the projected financial picture.

Accounting and Banking

Associations should account for special assessment activity in a separate fund from operating and reserves. A separate bank account and specific account codes should be used. An amortization schedule should be maintained for all owners who are making monthly special assessment payments. Special assessment billing and expenditures should be processed using the special assessment bank account and accounting fund. Any amounts received or paid by other funds should be reconciled and repaid to the other funds at least monthly.

Board Meeting Review

At every board meeting, boards should review the vital data systematically. We recommend that board members review special assessment reports and supporting documents and ask questions before meetings. Keep your eyes on the goals: Collection of all assessments, control over expenditures including debt service, and determining the projected surplus or deficit. Boards need to formulate a plan should there be a projected shortfall. Another special assessment? Increase the loan? Hold off on expenditures?

Boards need to actively participate in the management and accounting for all special assessments. End Of Article

By Newman CPA

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By: Jeremy Newman CPA, Newman Certified Public Accountant PC

Newman CPA simplifies the HOA CPA process. Our streamlined process enables us to complete your work accurately, efficiently and on time. We understand your need for reliable communication and on-time reporting. We believe that you deserve hassle-free audit & tax services. Have confidence knowing we are your responsive partner here to make your life easier.

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Thou Shalt Provide A Budget Summary

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Thou Shalt Provide A Budget Summary

It is a common refrain among those who live in or work with condominium associations that the annual budgeting process consists of two parts accounting and one part voodoo. To avoid an imbalance in the recipe, it is important that members of the Board of Directors are familiar both with the Association’s governing documents and with applicable statutes in order to effectively serve the association and its members.

 

Effective January 1, 2012 changes to Washington’s reserve study laws went into effect. The changes impacted both “new act” condominiums (those governed by RCW 64.34) as well as HOA’s (RCW 64.38) and include specific and extensive reporting requirements that have been added to the budget process for both condominiums and HOA’s. This article will focus on these reporting requirements specifically as they relate to condominiums as set forth in RCW 64.34.308(4).

Understanding and Applying RCW 64.34.308(4)

For “new act” condominium associations governed by the Washington Condominium Act, RCW 64.34.308(3) requires an association’s Board of Directors to adopt a proposed budget and, then, to provide a summary of the proposed annual budget to all unit owners who must have the opportunity to reject the budget at a formal meeting of the association, if they so choose. In the past this process has been fairly straightforward and simple. Concerned that unit owners were not being sufficiently informed of the financial health and wellbeing of the condominium associations in which they lived and notified of potential exposure to increased assessments or other costs in the future, the legislature amended RCW 64.34.308(4) to include extensive reporting requirements with which all “new act” condominium associations must comply.

RCW 64.34.308(4) now requires the Board of Directors disclose the following information in the annual budget summary sent to each unit owner:

(a) The current amount of regular assessments budgeted for contribution to the reserve account, the recommended contribution rate from the reserve study, and the funding plan upon which the recommended contribution rate is based;

(b) If additional regular or special assessments are scheduled to be imposed, the date the assessments are due, the amount of the assessments per each unit per month or year, and the purpose of the assessments;

(c) Based upon the most recent reserve study and other information, whether currently projected reserve account balances will be sufficient at the end of each year to meet the association’s obligation for major maintenance, repair, or replacement of reserve components during the next thirty years;

(d) If reserve account balances are not projected to be sufficient, what additional assessments may be necessary to ensure that sufficient reserve account funds will be available each year during the next thirty years, the approximate dates assessments may be due, and the amount of the assessments per unit per month or year;

(e) The estimated amount recommended in the reserve account at the end of the current fiscal year based on the most recent reserve study, the projected reserve account cash balance at the end of the current fiscal year, and the percent funded at the date of the latest reserve study;

(f) The estimated amount recommended in the reserve account based upon the most recent reserve study at the end of each of the next five budget years, the projected reserve account cash balance in each of those years, and the projected percent funded for each of those years; and

(g) If the funding plan approved by the association is implemented, the projected reserve account cash balance in each of the next five budget years and the percent funded for each of those years.

Clearly, the job of Board members and the agents that serve them in the budgeting process has not gotten easier with these new disclosure requirements! However, the silver lining is that these additional disclosure requirements will likely provide members of the association with an important snapshot of both the current and future financial health of the association.

As another budget season rapidly approaches, it is important that you know whether these recent changes apply to your association and, if they do, that you are clear how they should be implemented. If you have questions about these changes or how to effectively and efficiently implement them, there are a host of resources available through WSCAI that stand ready to assist you! Good luck and happy budgeting.

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Special Assessments: Options For Owners, Options For Associations

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Special Assessments: Options For Owners, Options For Associations

At some point, the need to collect special assessments to cover major or unexpected costs is a fact of life for community associations. What process must an association follow when the need for a special assessment arises?

The Budget Process

The budget process for Washington community associations is constrained both by statute and by each community’s governing documents. Special assessments, even though they might sometimes be unanticipated, are themselves a budget, and therefore the same procedures must be followed to adopt special assessments as to adopt a budget. Those procedures will vary depending on the type of association and the details of the association’s governing documents.

The process starts with the association’s board of directors. The board should, after consulting any necessary experts and considering community input, adopt a proposed budget and mail copies to all the owners. Then, if the association is a New Act COA or an HOA, the board must call a meeting for owners to ratify (or not) the proposed special assessment budget. (Old Act condos must follow the procedures set forth in their governing documents.) If the owners do not ratify the proposed budget, the old budget remains in place. For special assessments, failing to ratify the special assessment budget means that the board cannot impose the special assessment.

Lump Sum, or Payments?

Should you collect the entire amount of a special assessment as a lump sum, or should you divide the assessment into installment payments? One possibility for some communities is for the association to take out a loan which the members pay off through a special assessment spread over several years. Each option has advantages and disadvantages.

An association may have better success with installment payments; the owners might not have the cash to pay up front, and might appreciate the opportunity to make payments over time. However, one disadvantage of this is that the association may not obtain the amount needed to pay for immediate expenses. If the assessment is needed to pay for something crucial, such as a leaking roof, waiting to collect the money may not be an option. But if the association plans ahead, collecting payments over time can be a good option.

There are costs associated with collecting payments over time. Management companies may charge a fee ranging from $5 to more than $20 per unit every month. If this is collected monthly on a large number of homes, this cost can be substantial, and may be a cost the association has to pay as a common expense. If a loan is obtained, there will also be bank fees, interest due, and attorney’s fees related to the loan. And the association as a whole still bears the risk if owners fail to make payments no matter how they are structured.

If the assessment per unit is small, collecting a lump sum from the owners can be the simplest option. One way to help owners is to try to plan ahead for large expenses and give the owners lots of notice before the money becomes due. For instance, if the property will need a substantial repair in 5 months, let the owners know as soon as possible and give them time to come up with the money or sell their homes. Owners with equity in their properties may be able to secure personal loans, a line of credit, or refinance their units to pay the assessment. When an owner borrows to pay a lump sum, the costs and risks associated with the loan are borne by the individual owner instead of the association.

If a home goes into bankruptcy or foreclosure proceedings, the nature of the assessment will affect the loss the association experiences. An acquirer (bank or buyer) must pay any assessments that become due in the future, such as payments to be made periodically on a special assessment; however, an acquirer usually is not obligated to pay for a past due, delinquent assessment of one large lump sum. (See RCW 64.34.264.) With a stream of payments, only the past due payments are wiped out.

Educating Owners On Special Assessments

Possibly the most important aspect of negotiating special assessments for a community is the process of educating the owners about what the needs of the community are. One way to do this is through the use of appropriate professionals. A reserve study professional, architect, or attorney may be able to appear at a meeting, or prepare a written statement for the owners’ reference. If the owners understand that an assessment will protect their homes and their investment, they may be more willing to pay. Another consideration is to make sure the board’s actions reflect the values of your individual community; owners may prioritize the property’s appearance, or may prioritize making only the most necessary of repairs. Making decisions on behalf of the owners which reflect their values will get the most support from the owners and make this entire process easier.

When considering special assessments, educate and communicate with owners, get their input on ability to pay lump sum or a stream of payments, balance the need for funds against the risk of nonpayment for different payment options, and make the best decision you can.

By Eliza Jane Manoff

Article first appeared in the August 2013 issue of WSCAI Community Associations Journal.
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