surplus funds

Show me the money!

Reconciling surplus operating funds should be a relatively straightforward task every year, but many associations aren't quite sure what to do. It would be ill-advised to assume that any and all surpluses should be rolled forward to cover next year's operating expenses or simply transferred to your replacement reserve. Likewise, an association's cash position may require tending if deficits are ignored. Reviewing the potential for reconciliation is always important because common interest communities are non-profit member organizations.

STATUTES

In WA State, RCW 64.34.356 - Surplus Funds has this topic well in hand:

Unless otherwise provided in the declaration, any surplus funds of the association remaining after payment of or provision for common expenses and any prepayment of reserves shall, in the discretion of the board of directors, either be paid to the unit owners in proportion to their common expense liabilities or credited to them to reduce their future common expense assessments.


The latest WUCIOA statute RCW 64.90.475 - Accounts and Records - Reconciliation covers the same topic:


(1) The association must establish and maintain its accounts and records in a manner that will enable it to credit assessments for common expenses and specially allocated expenses, including allocations to reserves, and other income to the association, and to charge expenditures, to the account of the appropriate units in accordance with the provisions of the declaration.


(2) To assure that the unit owners are correctly assessed for the actual expenses of the association, the accounts of the association must be reconciled at least annually unless the board determines that a reconciliation would not result in a material savings to any unit owner. Unless provided otherwise in the declaration, any surplus funds of the association remaining after the payment of or provision for common expenses and any prepayment of reserves must be paid annually to the unit owners in proportion to their common expense liabilities or credited to them to reduce their future common expense assessments.


YOUR DECLARATION


You will note that the language in both statues above contains the provision unless provided otherwise in the declaration. If your declaration contains different criteria that those statutes, that's how you reconcile. See the declaration language below and note that it mandates an automatic reconciliation unless the Board holds a vote to determine otherwise.

In order that the Unit Owners are correctly assessed for the actual expenses of the Association, unless the Board determines a reconciliation would not result in a material savings to any Unit Owner, the accounts of the Association shall be reconciled at least annually, and any material surpluses (or deficits) in the accounts shall be credited to the benefit of or paid to (or charged to the account of or assessed against) the Unit Owners who paid the surplus (or owe the deficit).


A better version of the language above sets parameters that help avoid subjectivity:


In order that the Unit Owners are correctly assessed for the actual expenses of the Association, the entire amount of all surpluses and deficits that exceed three-point-five percent (3.5%) of the Association’s annual operating budget must be reconciled. Surpluses and deficits that do not exceed three-point-five percent (3.5%) of the Association’s annual operating budget must be reconciled unless the Board determines, not later than one-hundred-twenty-two (122) days after the Association’s fiscal year-end, that a reconciliation would not result in a material savings to any Unit Owner. Reconciliation of expenses shall credit to the benefit of or pay to (or charge to the account of or assess against) the Unit Owners who paid the surplus (or owe the deficit). The Association shall complete its annual reconciliation actions not later than two-hundred-fourteen (214) days after the Association’s fiscal year-end.

FEDERAL TAX IMPLICATIONS

Operating surpluses may have Federal tax ramifications for your association. The Revenue Ruling 70-604 Election must be ratified by over half the votes in attendance at an Annual Meeting in order for to elect to file the Form 1120 instead of 1120-H. Refer to SECTION 19 - INCOME TAX MATTERS as well as APPENDIX A1 and APPENDIX A2 in the Schwindt & Co. Treasurer's Accounting & Procedures Manual for more information.