Leading a Large Homeschool Co-op

 

Do you lead a large or growing homeschool co-op?

In this short podcast episode (20 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, interviews Kendall Smith who leads a large homeschool co-op. She explains how they transitioned from an enrichment-only group to offering academic classes and getting volunteers and teachers. She offers sage advice on running a group successfully.

Featured resource

Homeschool Co-ops:
How to Start Them, Run Them and not Burn Out

 

Have you ever thought about starting a homeschool co-op? Are you afraid it will be too much work? Do you think you’ll have to do it all by yourself? Starting a homeschool co-op can be easy! This book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will give you ideas, inspiration, tips, wisdom and the tools you need to start a homeschool co-op, run it and not burn out!

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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Where to find the Taxes for CC Directors ebook

 

I know its the day AFTER tax filing season ended, but I just learned from two helpful people (thank you!!) where to find the ebook Taxes for Licensed CC Directors.

 

Here is what I was told:
The link is in an updated (updated March 29th) version of the Director’s Licensing Guide (DLG) on page 54.
At the end of a paragraph on that page, there is a sentence saying for more information see Appendix M and “this document,” which is the link to the ebook. 
Appendix M is a letter from Robert Bortins talking about the book. The title of the book is not mentioned, except if you click the little blue “this document” link you will see the book itself.

 

Please help out your fellow CC Directors and point them to the Directors Licensing Guide (which I believe is available online for licensed CC Directors) page 54, Appendix M and click on “this document.” 

 

Why can’t I get the ebook from Carol Topp, CPA, the author?
Unfortunately, I cannot distribute the ebook myself. My contract with Classical Conversations states that only CC may distribute the book. I am so sorry that it was not available sooner in this tax season and that it seems to be difficult for many of you to find.

 

What if I messed up my taxes?
If you read the ebook and believe you have made an error in filing your 2017 tax return, please consult a tax professional. If you prepared your tax return yourself, please contact a local tax professional to help you amend your tax return. It’s a confusing and complicated process to amend a tax return so I don’t recommend you doing it yourself. How to find a local tax professional

 

I hope that helps.
Again I apologize that the book was not available earlier in the tax season. It went through several reviews and edits and that delayed its release.

 

Carol Topp, CPA
Helping Homeschool Leaders and Organizations

Protect the children in your homeschool group

Homeschool leaders,

Do you know how to keep the children in your homeschool group safe? What should you do if you suspect child abuse?

Here’s a helpful resource: Child Safety Guide, a 40 page ebook from GuideOne Insurance. It had a lot of safety checklists, a sample consent form, an incident report, and Child Protection Policy sample.

It also has information on background checks and what to do if you suspect child abuse.

Very helpful. It’s free. All it costs is your email address.

 

FREE E-BOOK | Protect the children in your ministry

 

I originally shared this information on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HomeschoolCPA/

and in a Facebook group I co-lead: I Am a Homeschool Group Leader. It’s a group of almost 400 homeschool leaders from across the USA supporting each other by answering questions about running a Homeschool group. Come join us!

 

Download the Child Safety Guide today, read it, and discuss it with your board.

Let’s hope you never need the information shared there, but if you do you’ll be glad you had this resource.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

More Ways to Avoid Leader Burnout

 

Want more tips on how to avoid burnout?

In this short podcast episode (15 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, will share 5 more ways to avoid burnout as a homeschool group leader.

Featured resource

Homeschool Co-ops:
How to Start Them, Run Them and not Burn Out

 

Have you ever thought about starting a homeschool co-op? Are you afraid it will be too much work? Do you think you’ll have to do it all by yourself? Starting a homeschool co-op can be easy! This book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will give you ideas, inspiration, tips, wisdom and the tools you need to start a homeschool co-op, run it and not burn out!

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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Tax deductible donations without IRS determination letter

We have an EIN and file 990-N annually but fall under the classification of a group self declares our tax exempt status because we make less than $5,000 a year. We have not gone through the formal 501(c)(3) application process with the IRS. I was talking with IRS today and I believe I understood them to say we cannot give a form to a donor stating their contribution is tax deductible.

If that is the case how can we assure potential donors we are tax deductible and doesn’t a donor need documentation for when they file their taxes?

Mark

 

Mark,

One of the major drawbacks for small 501(c)(3) organizations who chose to “self-declare” their tax exempt status is that they lack the official IRS determination letter proving that donations are tax deductible (See the photo above for an example of the IRS determination letter).

This important letter can give donors assurance that their donations are indeed tax deductible.

Technically, your organization can still receive tax deductible donations, but your organization lacks “proof” to show a donor.

A donor must keep a record if the donation is more than $250. This record is usually a letter from the charity, but a bank record (a cancelled check) may suffice. This record is only given to the IRS if the donor is being audited by the IRS.

Your homeschool group may be listed in the IRS database of Exempt Organizations since you have been filing your  Form 990-Ns every year. Visit IRS Select Check and see if your can find your organization listed as “Has filed Form 990-N” or “Are eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.” If you are in the IRS database you can be assured that you can accept tax deductible contributions.

The best way to assure potential donors would be to file the Form 1023-EZ (fee $275 to the IRS and takes about 3-4 weeks). Then you get the official IRS determination letter.

I can assist you in filing the Form 1023-EZ. While it is a much simpler form than the full Form 1023, it can be confusing and you will want to be sure it is filed correctly.

Email me if you’d like my help.
Carol Topp, CPA

5 Ways to Avoid Homeschool Leader Burnout

 

Homeschool leader, are you tired? Are you burned out?

Leading a homeschool co-op can be exhausting. Carol Topp, Homeschool CPA, shares 5 ways to avoid burnout as you lead your homeschool group.

Featured resource

Homeschool Co-ops:
How to Start Them, Run Them and not Burn Out

 

Have you ever thought about starting a homeschool co-op? Are you afraid it will be too much work? Do you think you’ll have to do it all by yourself? Starting a homeschool co-op can be easy! This book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will give you ideas, inspiration, tips, wisdom and the tools you need to start a homeschool co-op, run it and not burn out!

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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How long do I need to keep these homeschool group records?

From the I Am a Homeschool Group Leader Facebook group (if you’re not a member yet request to join us. We’d love to have you!)

 

How does your group handle old financial records? What do you keep, what gets tossed and when?

When I began as treasurer, I received tons of files, receipts, bank statements, old insurance policies, order forms and the like. Our group is 30 years old. It’s a lot of stuff! Don’t want to toss anything that’s needed, but thinking that much of this is not necessary anymore.

Julie

 

I found some helpful lists of what to keep and for how long:

Document Retention for US Nonprofits: A Simple Guide

Document Retention Policies for Nonprofits

Both of these lists are for large nonprofits with employees, buildings, etc. so the lists are crazy long and overly detailed for most homeschool groups.

So I culled it down to this:

Keep these records permanently

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Determination Letter from the IRS
  • IRS Tax Exempt Application Form 1023/1023-EZ
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Information Returns, Form 990/990-EZ or 990-N
  • State Information returns or annual reports

Keep for 7 years

  • Financial statements (year-end)
  • Canceled checks
  • Bank Statements
  • Leases (5 years after lease ends)
  • Background checks
  • 1099-MISC  given to Independent Contractors
  • Employment Tax records (Form 941, W-2s etc)
  • Payroll records (although one list said to keep these permanently!)

Keep for 3-5 Years

  • Minutes of board meetings (although one list said to keep these permanently!)
  • Invoices
  • Reimbursements
  • Receipts of expenses
  • Insurance  policies

 

Where do you store these documents and papers? Most of the documents will probably be stored at the Treasurer’s and Secretary’s homes.

But the documents to be kept permanently should be stored in a board members’ binders and passed down to future board members. Each board member should have a copy of the important “Keep permanently” documents.

I have created a Homeschool Organization Board Manual. It is a template to create a board member binder. It has:

  • A list of important documents to keep in your binder
  • Section dividers so you can organize the important papers
  • Tools to help you run your meetings smoothly including
  • A sample agenda that you can use over and over again
  • A calendar of board meetings

Conflict Resolution in a Homeschool Group

 

Got conflict in your homeschool group? Of course you do!

If you lead a homeschool co-op, you’ve probably dealt with conflict. Listen as Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA, shares some tips and advice for dealing with conflict in your homeschool co-op.

 

In the podcast Carol mentioned The Peacemaker by Ken Sande as a book she found very helpful.

 

Featured resource

Homeschool Co-ops:
How to Start Them, Run Them and not Burn Out

Have you ever thought about starting a homeschool co-op? Are you afraid it will be too much work? Do you think you’ll have to do it all by yourself? Starting a homeschool co-op can be easy! This book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will give you ideas, inspiration, tips, wisdom and the tools you need to start a homeschool co-op, run it and not burn out!

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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IRS Form 1023-EZ adds more questions for 501c3 tax exempt status

In January 2018, the IRS Exempt Organization updated the Form 1023-EZ by adding a few extra questions.

The Form 1023-EZ Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, is a short online form that small nonprofit organizations can use to apply for 501(c)(3) status. The Form 1023-EZ application form is available for U.S. organizations with assets of $250,000 or less and annual gross receipts of $50,000 or less. That’s most homeschool organizations. It was created in 2014.

The update in 2018 added:

  • Two questions from the Eligibility Worksheet (found on the Instructions to Form 1023-EZ) asking:
  1. “Have your annual gross receipts exceeded $50,000 in any of the past 3 years and/or do you project that your annual gross receipts will exceed $50,000 in any of the next 3 years? (that’s really two questions)
  2. “Do you have total assets the fair market value of which is in excess of $250,000?”
If you check “Yes” to either of those questions, you do not meet the requirements to submit Form 1023-EZ and you most file the longer, paper application, Form 1023, instead.
  • A new requirement that organizations describe to the IRS their mission or most significant activities. The description is limited to 255 characters, so it’s very short.

I frequently see eloquent mission statements such as the following:

It is the goal of our organization to encourage Christian home educating families to home school in a manner that honors God. To accomplish this we will…

1) provide for academic achievement nurtured in an atmosphere where godly living is exemplified

2) provide resources for enhancing parental home schooling skills.

3) provide opportunities for children’s enrichment and growth through various classes and activities.

4) inform member families and public about legislative issues related to home education

That’s lovely, but it’s not specific enough for the IRS, it doesn’t describe their activities, and it is more than 255 characters! I culled it down to this:

To encourage Christian home educating families. We offer an annual conference, educational classes, field trips, clubs and social events.

 

Since the addition of this new description, I have found the IRS is taking a bit longer to approve 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. What used to take only 10 days is now taking about 3-4 weeks. But that is still a lot shorter than the 3-6 months that most nonprofits who file the longer full Form 1023 wait.

Do your homeschool organization need help applying for tax exempt status or preparing your Form 1023-EZ? I can helpContact me, Carol Topp, CPA.

Carol Topp, CPA

Recruiting Leaders for Your Homeschool Group

 

Do you have difficulty getting people to help lead your homeschool co-op?

 

In this short podcast episode (15 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, offers tips and ideas from other homeschool leaders on how to recruit leaders to help you run your homeschool co-op.

In the podcast Carol mentioned…

Homeschool Organization Board Manual

Homeschool board  members should keep all their organization’s important papers in a safe and accessible place. Usually, a 3-ring binder works well.

Author and homeschool advisor, Carol Topp, CPA, has created a Homeschool Organization Board Manual. It is a template to create a board member binder. It has:

  • A list of important documents to keep in your binder
  • Section dividers so you can organize the important papers
  • Tools to help you run your meetings smoothly including
  • A sample agenda that you can use over and over again
  • A calendar of board meetings

Click Here for more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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