Please give your comments to the IRS on a shorter application for tax exempt status


IMG_0244The IRS is considering offering a shorter application form to apply for tax exempt status. The current form, Form 1023, is 25 pages long and the IRS estimates it can take up to 101 hours to complete. They are proposing a 1023-EZ which would be only 2 pages long and take only 14 hours to complete!

Now that’s a step in the right direction! Atta boy, IRS!

See the new Form 1023-EZ (draft)

See the accompanying instructions for Form 1023-EZ

If you have filled out the lengthy Form 1023, or had me prepare it for you, I think you should give the IRS your opinion on a shorter version.

Offer your comments via an email to these emails: and

More information here

The comments are open until April 30, 2014.

I’ve looked at it and so far, I’m all for it! A From 1023-EZ would greatly reduce the burden on almost 90% of the homeschool organizations that I help.

My comments on Proposed  Form 1023-EZ 

(Feel free to copy some of my comments if they apply to your opinion. Please include a personal example how how long the Form 1023 took you to prepare.)

A simpler form would save you time, money and frustration. It would mean you could get back to what you want to do: run your homeschool co-op and not fill out IRS forms!

Carol Topp, CPA

More Money Myths Homeschool Moms Believe. Dollars and Sense Show #14


In this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show host Carol Topp and her guest Susan Raber of discuss more money myths that homeschool moms believe.

Listen to the show here
From Episode #13 of the Dollars and Sense Show, Carol and Susan discussed three money myths:

Myth #1: Just a Little More Money is All I Need…

Myth # 2:  I Need …..

Myth # 3:  It was on sale; I saved a lot of money!

On today’s show, Carol And Susan discuss two more money myths.

Myth # 4: Homeschooling is Expensive:

A study of 220 families spend between $300 and $1,000 per family each year. Private schools cost from $3,000-$10,000 year.  That’s expensive!

Truth:  Homeschooling is time consuming.

“Opportunity cost” is the cost of passing up a choice when making a decision.

Money tip:  Make up a homeschool budget.  Include books, field trips, classes, magazine subscriptions.


Myth # 5: I’ll use it someday

Truth:  You don’t know what the future holds

Ask yourself:

  1. Am I going to use it now or in the near future? Beware of buying things with the reasoning, ‘I’m not sure when I’ll use it, but I’ll use it someday.’  Tell yourself, “If it’s that good, it will be there when I need it.  If not, something better will replace it”
  2. Where is it going to go?  Make sure you have a clearly designated space otherwise it increases your clutter.


We hope you’ve enjoyed these Five Money Myths and remember them as we enter the homeschool convention shopping season!


Tune in for the next Dollars and Sense show on April 24, 2014 when Carol will start a series on tips for teenagers or parents wanting to start a micro business.


Tax exemption for homeschool group switched by the IRS


The Learning Vine, a homeschool organization in North Aurora, IL,  just received 501(c)(3) status from the IRS.

This group had originally applied for tax exempt status as a 501(c)(7) Social Club on their own. The IRS held up their application for a year and then informed them that they should be filing for tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) educational organization.

Confused? So were the leaders at The Learning Vine. That’s when they contacted

I was happy to help this group become tax exempt and continue serving homeschoolers in IL!

Tax Exempt Status for Homeschool organizations

Do you know the difference between 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(7) status? Do you know what 501(c)(3) status could mean for your homeschool group?

This article may help: Homeschool Groups As Social Clubs

Resource for Homeschool Leaders

IRS and Your Homeschool Org cover My book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization could help your group as well. This 120 page book explains the pros and cons of tax exempt status and how to apply.

Price: $9.95  Learn more here.

Money Myths Homeschool Moms Believe. Dollars and Sense Show #13


In this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show host Carol Topp and her guest Susan Raber of discuss money myths that homeschool moms believe.

Listen to the show here

Do any of you, like me, have curriculum sitting on your shelf, that, if you are honest with yourself, you will probably never use?

I want to share some experiences I’ve learned about money and homeschooling.  I call it the Five Money Myths that Homeschool Moms Believe

Myth #1:  Just a Little More Money Will Solve All My Problems

Truth: Problem is not lack of money, but lack of contentment

Contentment Robbers: mail order catalogs, magazines, malls, etc… For homeschoolers the list is similar:

  • homeschool catalogs,
  • homeschool curriculum fairs,
  • homeschooling web sites and forums,
  • homeschooling magazines
  • and even (gasp) other homeschoolers

I personally do not look at the Sunday sale ads.  I didn’t know I needed stuff until I saw the ads!  So I stopped looking. Maybe it’s the same with you.  What are your contentment robbers?

Here’s some advice:

  1. Only look at catalogs when you have a specific need
  2. Use a shopping list at curriculum fairs. If it’s not on the list, you don’t need it.

Myth # 2:  I Need …..

Truth:  Wants are different from needs

Do you think that you just have to have a certain item (whether you need it or not) just because another homeschooler has it?

Here are some tips:

  1. Don’t buy things sight unseen
  2. Don’t buy more than one year of a new text

Myth # 3:  It was on sale; I saved a lot of money!

Truth:  Money is not saved unless there is a deposit into the bank!

As yourself: Is the sale price a good value?

My daughter was looking at an audio book catalog with deeply discounted prices.  “How can they sell these audio books so cheaply?” she asked me. “The original price was $500 and they’ll sell it for $150.” Perhaps, it never sold at $500 and it’s only worth $150. Is the $150 a good value?

Tip: If you buy something on sale, put the difference in a savings account.  Use the savings for future homeschool needs.


Tune in for the next Dollars and Sense show on April 10, 2014 when Carol and Susan will discuss More Money Myths that Homeschool Moms Believe.


How come we never had to file anything with the IRS before?

Dear homeschool leader,

Did you just hear the shocking news that all nonprofit organizations have to start filing annual returns with the IRS?

You may be wondering, “What changed? We never had to file anything before!” And you’d be right.

For many years the IRS had a problem: nonprofit organizations were not giving them annual information returns (Form 990EZ or Form 990). The IRS let small organizations (under $25,000 per year was considered small) get by without doing any annual filings, but the IRS couldn’t tell if an organization failed to file an annual return because

  1. The organization had died or
  2. The organization had less than $25,000 in income and wasn’t required to file a return or
  3. The organization was large and just not filing a return with the IRS. IOW, they were not playing nice and the IRS didn’t like that!

The IRS found some nonprofits are not following the rules and (gasp!) complained to Congress.

Congress passes the Pension Protection Act in 2006.

Photo credit: kakisky from

So the IRS got Congress to pass the Pension Protection Act in 2006. It required two things from nonprofits:

1. All small organizations (revenues of less than $25,000 per year) had to start filing an electronic form to the IRS every year. What the IRS called the 990N or their “e-postcard.”


2. All tax-exempt organizations that didn’t file an information return for three consecutive years will automatically lose their tax-exempt status. I call it the “3 strikes and you’re out” rule.


So here’s the timeline:

2006: Pension Protection Act requires annual electronic notice from all small nonprofits.
2007, 2008, 2009 were the first years that the annual notification requirement was in place.
2010: The first automatic revocations take place. The “3 strikes, you’re out” rule.

Word about the new required annual filing has been slow to get out. After all the IRS doesn’t have a big marketing budget. They sent letters, created press releases and even created a YouTube video, but a lot of small nonprofits were still in the dark.

Slowly, a lot of small organizations learned that their tax exempt status had been revoked and they didn’t even know about it! I guess the IRS got an earful of complaints because they (finally) created a system where small nonprofits could get their tax exempt status reinstated.

IRS created a “streamlined” reinstatement process for nonprofits

The process is outlined in IRS Revenue Procedure 2014-11 that came out in January 2014. Yes, that’s 2014. Eight years after the whole reporting requirement was enacted by Congress. We never claimed the IRS was speedy, did we?

The IRS loves paper and so the Rev Proc 2014-11 requires nonprofits to send the IRS a lot of paper. They have to file the rather long Application for Tax Exemption (Form 1023 or 1024) and probably file their annual information returns (Form 990) way back to 2008.

I’m not quite sure what’s streamlined about this, but I guess to a turtle, a snail is speedy!

So that’s why you are wondering if the IRS has some sort of new reporting requirement. It’s not really new, it’s 8 years old, but maybe you’re just now hearing about it.

What to do now

  • Brush up on the Form 990N and start filing it now!
  • Search the IRS list of revoked organizations to see if your nonprofit is listed there.
  • Read Rev Proc 2014-11 if you like reading IRS jargon to see what paperwork you need to file with the IRS to get your tax exempt status reinstated.
  • Or better yet, arrange a phone call to talk over your situation with me, HomeschoolCPA, Carol Topp. I’m pretty good at understanding homeschool organizations and can help you know where you stand with the IRS and what to do next.

Thanks to Peter B. Nagel over at for providing the history of the IRS rules.

Carol Topp, CPA




Teens and taxes. Dollars and Sense Show #12


In this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show host Carol Topp discusses taxes and teenagers.

Listen to the show here

Show Notes:

 A teenager files their own tax return!  Do NOT add your child’s income to your tax return.

You can still claim your teenager as your dependent. They check a box stating they are claimed as a dependent on your tax return.

Major taxes affecting teenagers: earned income, unearned income, and self-employment tax.

 Earned Income from a job or micro business (including babysitting). Federal income tax is owed if earned income is more than $6,100 (in 2013)

 Unearned Income: interest, dividends, capital gains on taxable accounts in the student’s name. Federal income tax is owed if unearned income is more than $1,000. Between $1,00 and $2,00 unearned income is taxed at child’s tax rate. More than $2,000 unearned income is taxed at parent’s rate  on Form 8615 (“Kiddie tax”)

Self-Employment Tax

Same as Social Security and Medicare for self-employed people. 15.3% of profit over $400. Unadjusted since 1954 (adjusted would be $6,250). Schedule SE attached to Form 1040. Reported on Line 56 under Other Taxes on back of Form 1040. (the “hidden” tax)

Example: $5,000 profit earned by single teenager. Income tax $0. SE tax $706!

If you’d like to see this changed, visit for a position paper you can share with your congressman.

 Exception to SE tax for teenage Household Employee: Students under age 18 working in or around an individual’s home is a household employee are not subject to SE tax. Report wages on Form 1040 Line 7 with “HSH” as note. Examples: babysitting, lawn care, house cleaner

 Teenagers scammed: Treated as independent contractor instead of employee.
Signs: Paycheck with no SS/Medicare withheld. Paid in cash. 1099MISC not W-2.
Action: Complain to employer. File complaint with IRS (Form SS-8) and Form 8919 to pay half SS/Medicare.


Teens and Taxes ebook by Carol Topp, CPA available at
Money and Taxes in a Micro Business by Carol Topp, CPA available at
IRS Understanding Taxes website


Tune in for the next Dollars and Sense show on March 27, 2014 when Carol will discuss 5 Money Myths that homeschool moms believe.


Money, Taxes and the Homeschool Family

My latest article “Money, Taxes and the Homeschool Family” is in this month’s edition of The Old Schoolhouse magazine.

Read the entire article here

The Old Schoolhouse magazine is  completely online and FREE.

You don’t even have to give your email to read it. How coo is that?

You might want to visit page 34 too!

Carol Topp, CPA

Homeschool co-ops are like marriage: know what you’re getting into!



I’ll be speaking to homeschool leaders on the topic of homeschool co-ops at the Great Homeschool Convention in Greenville, SC on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

Here’s a handout: Homeschool co-ops are like marriage.

I hope to meet some of you there!

Carol Topp, CPA

Video: Nonprofit status for homeschool groups

I created a short video explaining nonprofit status for homeschool groups.

I compare nonprofit status to being married!
See what you think:


If you have more questions about nonprofit status for your homeschool organization, start by reading these articles:


IRS and Your Homeschool Org cover


My book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization is very helpful for homeschool groups considering tax exempt status.


Carol Topp, CPA

Video: Annual IRS fiings for homeschool organizations

A short video on annual IRS filings for homeschool organizations.

I explain the annual IRS information return, Form 990.
See what you think:

For more information on the Form 990, read this blog post


Carol Topp, CPA