Grand Treasurer Craig Head (pictured) writes:
Now is the time of the masonic year that many lodge Committees of General Purposes turn their minds to preparing financial accounts for the year just ended, finalising budgets for the ensuing year and sending out lodge dues invoices to members.
In the face of the uncertainty around COVID-19, it is paramount that sustainable lodge financial models are adopted to provide support to members who may be experiencing financial difficulty on the one hand whilst ensuring our lodges obtain the necessary funding to remain viable when we come out of this pandemic.
This conversation has also been occurring at my Lodge and hopefully our experiences may provide some guidance to other lodges who may find themselves in similar circumstances.
Our lodge activities in 2019-20 reflected a break-even result, so we were quite confident that the level of dues being invoiced to members were adequate to fund lodge operations.
We reached out to remind several brethren who had not yet paid their 2019-20 lodge dues to do so promptly and made sure all members upon whom we were paying capitation fees to Freemasons Victoria were correct.
We made sure that any income we earned on our term deposits and bank accounts were used only to support our benevolence program, that these donations were in fact tax deductible and that we had the necessary receipts on file to support these payments.
Last year we had used our budget to work out our expected non-mutual net assessable income(predominantly interest on bank and term deposits) in advance and the Master was advised that in his year he should approve donations to a total that reduces the Lodge’s potential tax liability to a figure that leaves net assessable income below the current threshold of $416. I am a firm believer in donating to worthy causes rather than having to pay it to the tax office!
Within the financials were also payments for Rent to our masonic centre and we have decided that we should discuss our circumstances with our Centre to hopefully reduce the rent burden during this COVID-19 lockdown.
This reduction understands the fact that the Centre still has land tax, rates and other costs to recover and we need to ensure the Centres are also sustainable and are able to reopen their doors after this pandemic has passed. Any savings we may be able to negotiate at our lodge level for rent will be passed on to members in a future year to further reduce the financial burden.
The Board of General Purposes previously had waived the second half-year capitation fees from Jan. 20 to Jun. 20 at $62.50 (incl. GST) to all Victorian billable members. This action was carried out with the intention of providing some relief to all members at the commencement of the pandemic.
Last year all lodges would have invoiced their members for lodge dues plus $125 for the full year capitation fee and all members would have already paid total amount to their lodges in good faith (assuming the full $125 would be remitted in full when the half-yearly invoices were received from Freemasons Victoria).
As liability for the second invoice never eventuated however, each member who has already paid their lodge dues should have a $62.50 credit sitting with their lodge for Jan. 20 to Jun. 20 capitation fees.
Included in the Grand Treasurer’s Quarterly address dated June 27, 2020, the Grand Secretary’s notice dated July 17, 2020 and reported in the FV News bulletin dated Monday, July 20, 2020, Freemasons Victoria capitation fees have been reinstated from July 1, 2020 at $130 (incl. GST) for the full year.
This decision allows the funding of ongoing masonic building, insurance, audit, operating and other statutory costs necessary to provide for the continued community and member engagement programs during these difficult times.
So, our lodge for the 2020-21 year is currently invoicing our members the same Lodge fee as 2019-20 plus $130.00 (incl. GST) less $62.50 (incl. GST).
Lodge Secretaries/Treasurers needing assistance or who have queries on the above should in the first instance be directed to the Grand Secretary but also note that I will be only too pleased to receive all queries from him and respond promptly.