Can nonprofit board members be held personally liable?

 

“Can board members be personally liable for what happens in their homeschool group?”

Well…that’s really a legal question and I’m an accountant, not a lawyer, but here’s a recent news story about board members of a nonprofit nursing home. They were held personally liable for failing to do their “fiduciary duties.”

Court Holds Officers and Directors of Non-Profit Healthcare Facility Personally Liable to Creditors for Breach of Fiduciary Duty

The court ruled that the officers, specifically the nonprofit’s administrator and CFO, and board of directors were jointly and severally liable to creditors in the amount of $2.25 million.

What did they do wrong? It’s a long list:

  • breached their respective duties of care
  • did not keep adequate financial records
  • breaches of the duty of loyalty owed to the nonprofit through self-dealing
  • the board failed to remove an incompetent administrator and CFO
  • severely mismanaged the nonprofit, a nursing home
  • the administrator diverted grant funds that were provided by a community foundation
  • The CFO was found to have engaged in self-dealing

The author, attorney Robert Blaisdell concludes by saying,

“This case is significant because it exemplifies the trend of holding officers and directors of non-profit entities personally liable for breach of their fiduciary duty to the corporation.”

Did you get that? “Personally liable for breach of their fiduciary duties.” That means the board members must pay, from their own pocket, damages because they didn’t do their job as board members!

Don’t let this happen to you!

Know your duties as board members and do them.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

How Can Your Homeschool Group Feel Like a Community?

 

One of the best things about being in a homeschool group is the community of support you can receive. But do you know how to build a sense of community?

 

In this short podcast episode (15 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, interviews homeschool leader Angela Weaver. Angela runs a large group in Lynchburg, Virginia and she shares her experience on many topics including:

  • Having a common vision
  • How to build a community
  • How a fundraiser for others can build community
  • A sample purpose statement
  • How the purpose statement gets acted out through activities
  • Are homeschoolers losing a sense of community?
  • What could happen if we don’t have a supportive community?

Angela had so much advice, that it takes three episodes and this is the third of three parts!

Here is more wisdom from Angela Weaver:
Boards, Burnout and Bylaws: Leadership Tips from a Homeschool Leader
What’s the Best Size for a Homeschool Group Board?

In the podcast Carol mentioned the I Am a Homeschool Group Leader Facebook Group. It is a closed group (meaning you have to request to join) of 530 homeschool leaders from across the USA. You can join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/72534255742/

Phone Consultation with Carol Topp, CPA

Do you have questions about leading your homeschool organization?

Carol Topp’s website, books and this podcast are a great way to learn the basics, but maybe you need advice specific to your group. Carol Topp, CPA can arrange a private phone consultations with you and your board members.

Phone Consultation: A pre-arranged phone call to discuss your questions. My most popular service for homeschool leaders. It’s like having your own homeschool expert CPA on the phone!

Cost: $75/hour to nonprofit organizations.

We can arrange a conference call so all your board members can call in from their own homes. The call can be recorded for those unable to attend.

Contact HomeschoolCPA, Carol Topp, CPA, to arrange a telephone consultation.

Click Here to request more information!

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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Do CC Directors pay for their own children’s tuition?

Karen, a homeschool leader involved in Classical Conversions asked,

Do Classical Conversations (CC) Directors have to write a check (to themselves) for full tuition for each of their kids?

No. A CC Director does not have to pay her own business tuition for her own children. 

Here’s why:

CC Corporate wants a Director to pay their licensing fee based on student enrollment/tuition collected, so a CC Director should track the total tuition collected INCLUDING HER OWN CHILDREN. That way she is paying CC Corporate the correct amount.

But for tax purposes, a CC Director DOES NOT write her business a check for her own children’s tuition and does not include her child’s tuition in the income reported on her tax return (I’m assuming the Director is operating her business as a sole proprietorship and is not an employee of her own business).

The reason is that a person should not be taxed when they avoid paying for services by providing the services to themselves. It’s called imputed income. There was a court case in 1928 that ruled that the imputed income from produce grown and eaten by a farm owner is not taxable as income to the farmer.[9]

Conclusion: A Director must keep track of the tuition she would owe for her children so that she pays CC Corporate the correct licensing fees, but she does not need to write a tuition check to her business and she should not report her child’s tuition as taxable income on her business tax return.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

My book Taxes for Licensed Classical Conversations Directors is available through Classical Conversations. Find it  in the Directors Licensing Guide  page 54, Appendix M and click on “this document.”

What’s the Best Size for a Homeschool Group Board?

 

Do you wonder if your homeschool group leadership team is too large or too small? What is the best size to be?

In this short podcast episode (17 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, interviews homeschool leader Angela Weaver. Angela leads a large group in Lynchburg, Virginia and she shares advice on many topics including:

  • The perfect size of a board: large or small?
  • Having teams and committees plan events so the board isn’t doing everything
  • How to improve communication on a board
  • Having homeschool dads on the board
  • Is an odd number of board members essential?
  • What is the board president’s job? Is it to do everything?

Angela had so much experience, that it takes three episodes and this is the second of three parts!

Here is more wisdom from Angela Weaver:
Boards, Burnout and Bylaws: Leadership Tips from a Homeschool Leader

How Can Your Homeschool Group Feel Like a Community?

In the podcast Carol mentioned the I Am a Homeschool Group Leader Facebook Group. It is a closed group (meaning you have to request to join) of 530 homeschool leaders from across the USA. You can join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/72534255742/

Featured resource

Help your homeschool group get organized and run smoothly!

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

But this is more than just a few cover sheets for your binder. It is also a 55-page board training manual with helpful articles on:

  • Suggested Board Meeting Topic List
  • Board Duties
  • Job Descriptions for Board of Directors
  • What Belongs in the Bylaws?
  • Compensation and Benefits for Board Members
  • Best Financial Practices Checklist
  • How to Read and Understand Financial Statements
  • Developing a Child Protection Policy

Read more about the Homeschool Organization Board Manual

Carol Topp, CPA

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Top 5 risks to churches (and maybe your homeschool group as well)

From the Managing Your Church webpage, I learned the Top 5 Reasons Churches are Taken to Court.

Maybe they are a risk to your homeschool group as well.

In 2017, the top five reasons were

(1) sexual abuse of a child,

(2) property disputes,

(3) personal injuries,

(4) zoning disputes, and

(5) insurance disputes.

 

The article goes on to say:

Churches must be aggressive (in preventing child abuse). Any reasonable suspicion of child abuse must be reported immediately. It doesn’t matter if you or your colleagues are defined as a mandatory reporter in your state or not. Report it. Transfer the risk to the state in terms of what can be done about it.

I think that advice applies to homeschool groups, as well.

Please, please protect the children in your program and get training on how to spot and deal with child abuse.

The article lists the following resources (check with your church host; they may already have some of these resources):

Reducing the Risk, a comprehensive child abuse prevention training program (available in DVD format or online streaming)

50-State Child Abuse Reporting Laws Survey for Clergy and Church Leaders (available as a PDF download or for ChurchLawAndTax.com subscribers)

Church Board Guide to a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy

Child Sexual Abuse Response Plan

Draw the Line: Relational Boundaries for Safe Youth Ministry

Let’s work hard to keep children safe.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Boards, Burnout and Bylaws: Leadership Tips from a Homeschool Leader

 

Ever wish you could just sit down with another homeschool leader who understands you and your issues?

In this short podcast episode (15 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, interviews homeschool leader Angela Weaver. Angela runs a large group in Lynchburg, Virginia and she shares insight into many topics including boards, burn out and bylaws. It will feel like you’re listening to a good friend.

Angela had so much wisdom, that it takes 3 episodes! Here are the following episodes:

What’s the Best Size for a Homeschool Group Board?

How Can Your Homeschool Group Feel Like a Community?

 

Carol and Angela belong to the  I Am a Homeschool Group Leader Facebook Group. It is a closed group (meaning you have to request to join) of 500+ homeschool leaders from across the USA (and maybe the globe soon!). You can join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/72534255742/

 

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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Can CC Director offered reduced tuition to her tutors?

 

Can a Classical Conversations director gift an Independent Contractor or employee with free or reduced tuition?

Suzy

 

Suzy,
A Classical Conversations (CC) Director can give educational benefits (i.e., discounts on tuition) to Independent Contractors (IC) or employees, but (and this is a big, “but”) the value of these educational benefits is taxable income and must be reported on their W-2 or 1099-MISC.

So a CC director can offer a tuition discount to an IC or employee, but must add the value of that discount to the tax reports she gives to her tutors (1099-MISC or W-2).

And the worker must report her paid wages and the value of this discount/gift on her tax return as taxable income. You should warn her about that in writing and face-to-face, so they aren’t surprised at tax time!

We think that taxable income is only what comes in a paycheck, but the IRS defines taxable compensation to include “educational benefits.”

compensation includes salary or wages, deferred compensation, retirement benefits…, fringe benefits (personal vehicle, meals, lodging, personal and family educational benefits, low interest loans, payment of personal travel, entertainment, or other expenses, athletic or country club membership, and personal use of your property), and bonuses.[i]  (my emphasis added)

[i] Instructions for Form 1023 https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i1023/ch02.html#d0e1909

So, yes, a CC Director can offer free or reduced fees to an Independent Contractor or employee, but it is not a gift; it is taxable income and must be included in their wage and income reporting.

A CC Director should also check her license agreement with Classical Conversations to see if reduced fees are allowed.

If you have additional tax questions about being a CC Director, I wrote an ebook that can help!
Taxes for Licensed CC Directors is available from Classical Conversation. Find it here
Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Does a Nonprofit Need to File Any Tax Returns Before They Apply for Tax Exempt Status?

 

Does a nonprofit need to file a tax return before they receive tax exempt status?  Yes, the IRS requires organizations to file information returns before they apply for tax exempt status.

Here’s what the IRS website states:

Tax Law Compliance Before Exempt Status Is Recognized

An organization that claims tax-exempt status under section 501(a), but has not yet received an IRS letter recognizing exempt status, is generally required to file an annual exempt organization return.

So the answer is YES, you need to file either tax returns (and pay tax!) or information returns before you are granted tax exempt status.

In this short podcast episode (14 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, will explain this very confusing requirement.

 

Featured Product

Have more questions about your homeschool organization’s tax exempt status? My book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization would be a big help.

The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization

Does your homeschool group need to pay taxes? Could they avoid paying taxes by being a 501c3 tax exempt organization? Do you know the pros and cons of 501c3 status? Do you know what 501c3 status could mean for your homeschool group?

I have the answers for you in my book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization. The information I share in my book has been helpful to homeschool support groups, co-ops, music and sports groups and will help you understand:

  • The benefits of 501c3 status
  • The disadvantages too!
  • What it takes to make the IRS happy
  • What your state requires
  • Why your organization should consider becoming a nonprofit corporation
  • What is the difference between nonprofit incorporation and tax exemption
  • IRS requirements after you are tax exempt

Carol Topp, CPA

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A homeschool group is using free Paypal. Is that legit?

Hi Carol!

Our small homeschool group set up our business account with PayPal to collect payments from our families.

A friend/homeschool leader said we should accept money through the “friends and family” option on PayPal and avoid the PayPal fees. I didn’t even realize this was an option for a business account, but it is. I’m not sure if that’s legit. 

What scenario would I ever accept money via friends and family?

Thanks so much for your service to us homeschooling mamas!

-V, a homeschool group leader

 

Dear V,

Since you are accepting payment for rendering a service, you cannot avoid the PayPal fee.

To use the “friends and family” option would be deceitful.That option is for true transfers of money among friends, but not if your group is getting paid for rendering a service.

No one likes paying fees, but PayPal is doing your organization a service (processing credit card or debit card payments) and you should expect to pay for that service. You may have to increase your fees to the families a bit to cover the extra expense, but paying the Paypal fees is the correct, proper and legal way to run your homeschool group.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomechoolCPA.com

 

Have more questions about managing the money in your homeschool group? My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization may be just what you need!

Money Management for Homeschool Organizations

Does your homeschool group manage their money well? Do you have a budget and know where the money is spent? Do you know how to prevent fraud? This 115 page book will help you to open a checking account, establish a budget, prevent mistakes and fraud, use software to keep the books, prepare a financial statement and hire workers. Sample forms and examples of financial statements in clear English are provided.


Paperback $9.95

Ebook(pdf) $3.99

Kindle $3.99

 

 

What is Unrelated Business Income or UBIT?

 

A nonprofit group may raise a lot of money from fund raising. These fundraisers could be so successful the leaders may wonder if the homeschool group owes anything to the government in taxes. For the most part, fund raising is not considered part of your nonprofit group’s mission; it is just a means to the end. After all, your group’s mission is to encourage homeschooling, not to sell ads, pizza or other products.

The Internal Revenue Service calls the money a homeschool group or any nonprofit raises from a fundraiser “Unrelated Business Income,” meaning it is money collected in a trade or business that is not related to your primary mission (or what the IRS calls your “exempt purpose”).

In this short podcast episode (13 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, will explain the 4 exceptions to UBIT:

 

Do you have more questions about conducting fundraisers? My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization can help.

  • Does your homeschool group manage their money well?
  • Do you have a budget and know where the money is spent?
  • Do you know how to prevent fraud?

This 115 page book will help you to open a checking account, establish a budget, prevent mistakes and fraud, use software to keep the books, prepare a financial statement, and hire workers. Sample forms and examples of financial statements in clear English are provided.

Money Management in a Homeschool Organization

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