Wegner CPAs Partner Pete Oettinger, CPA remembers the moment that turned a spotlight on the need for dedicated financial services for cooperatives.
His accounting firm had acquired a new co-op client just in time to prep them for an IRS audit. Oettinger and his colleagues discovered that a prior accountant didn’t know how to classify a co-op and had bungled the return, filling out a form designated for a church and classifying a multi-million-dollar parsonage payout as a “parsonage allowance ” instead of a patronage deduction.
You can guess the rest of the story—the unwitting co-op got a visit from a posse of IRS agents brandishing guns and demanding to see the so-called church and “the priest who was getting $30 million tax free!”
“For us, it just reinforced the fact that co-ops need to work with folks who understand them, bottom-line,” Oettinger says.
With more than 65 years of combined knowledge and experience working in the cooperative sector, Wegner CPAs fits the bill. The accounting firm currently serves more than 100 cooperatives across the country, along with traditional businesses, non-profits and individuals.
During an August 20 webinar co-hosted by NCBA CLUSA and Wegner, Oettinger will demystify the process of preparing for a worry-free audit. Called, “Oh No! Our Organization has been Chosen for an Audit—Now What?” the webinar will equip participants with a checklist of the documents they need, vendors they should contact and areas they must address to ensure a smooth audit process.
A full-service accounting firm, Wegner offers audits, reviews and temporary CFO and controller services. The firm also handles fraud investigations, tax return compliance, consulting, payroll processing, valuations, litigation support and other services businesses need to achieve financial security in a changing economic landscape.
Wegner CPAs is based in Madison, Wisconsin—a “hotbed of co-op activity,” Oettinger says. “We got into this sector because it matched our business DNA. Co-ops are uniquely structured to offer a lot of products that other businesses can’t, and that keeps things interesting for us,” he says.
One major benefit is the multiemployer pension plan, which allows co-ops to pool their risk and resources, better ensuring pension security for workers. Co-ops also tend to get better deals for their members with vendors, especially those that carefully monitor compliance.
The co-ops that insist on “strict compliance” get “off-the-chart better deals” compared to others, Oettinger says.
Wegner CPAs is also aligned with the philosophy that drives cooperatives—concern for community. Wegner staff members are required to complete community service work.
“We’re not looking for backroom accountant people. Being out in the community with co-ops for Habitat for Humanity or the Boys and Girls Club has been a great recruiting tool to get the kind of people we want at Wegner.
Members of the Wegner CPAs leadership team belong to the National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives and are associate members of NCBA CLUSA.
—Click here to register for the August 20 webinar.