New website for filing IRS Annual ePostcard Form 990-N

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is changing the website to file the Form 990-N. The Form 990-N used to be hosted by the Urban Institute, but starting February 29, 2016, the IRS will host the Form 990-N submission website.

The new website is www.IRS.gov/990N

The Form 990-N is a short,  annual filing that small (those normally with annual gross receipts up to $50,000) tax-exempt organizations file in place of the lengthier Form 990-EZ or Form 990. In order to file the Form 990-N, all nonprofits will be required to complete a one-time registration and file Form 990-N submissions through the IRS’s website at www.IRS.gov/990N.

Who must file
Most small tax-exempt organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less can satisfy their annual reporting requirement by electronically submitting Form 990-N if they choose not to file Form 990 or Form 990-EZ instead.

Exceptions to this requirement include:

Form 990-N is easy to complete. You’ll need only eight items of basic information about your organization.

Taxes and your homeschool expenses

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I am pretty new to homeschooling and tax returns. As a matter of fact I have never incorporated my homeschooling into my tax returns since starting homeschool in 2013. What I would be interested in is finding out what are my to-do’s and to-donts when it comes to my household’s tax return and our homeschooling. Please let me know if you can help educate myself and potentially others.

 

Well, your homeschooling expenses are not included on your federal tax return at all, so there is nothing to be concerned about.

Homeschooling expenses are personal expenses, like groceries or clothes, and are not tax deductible on the US federal income tax return.

You cannot deduct your groceries or your clothes on your tax return and you cannot deduct your homeschooling expenses on your federal income tax return.

A few states may allow a tax deduction, a tax credit or an educational saving account. I cover details in this podcast episode:

Any Tax Breaks for Homeschoolers? Dollars and Sense Show podcast Episode 11

Carol Topp, CPA

 

 

Are homeschool co-op tuition discounts taxable income? Probably!

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Carol,

I see a lot of schools (homeschooling co-ops, private schools, etc) that offer tuition discounts or reduction for parent volunteer hours. If a parent volunteers to teach a  class a few hours a week and receives a tuition reduction for this commitment, is this considered taxable income for the parent?

I have also read this:

“IRS has broadly interpreted a worker’s “compensation” to also include the amount of free or reduced tuition that is given to a parent in consideration for his or her service to the school or church. A worker is no longer considered to be “volunteering” if he or she receives something of value “in kind” for his or her service. In the situation of a working parent whose child is enrolled in the school, it is the student’s waived tuition amount normally charged to nonworking parents that will constitute the worker’s taxable wage amount.”

I would love any follow up information you have about this. Thanks again!

Joanna R.

 

Dear Joanna,

I read the quote you provided with a lot of interest. I did a little research and came across IRS Publication 3079 which, although its title is “Tax Exempt Organizations and Gaming,” had a helpful section titled, “Volunteer Labor”

It stated something I didn’t want to read,

“Compensation is interpreted broadly. A worker who obtains goods or services at a reduced price in return for his services may be considered to be compensated.”

 

When the IRS says “compensated,” they mean taxable income. Ugh! That could mean that hard working volunteers in a homeschool organization, who get a discount on tuition, could have to report and pay taxes on this “compensation.”

But, as with all IRS documents, I kept reading Publication 3079 and found this:

On the other hand, a worker who receives merely insignificant monetary or non-monetary benefits is considered a volunteer, not a compensated worker.
Determining whether a benefit is insignificant requires consideration not only of the value of the benefit but also:
•The quantity and quality of the work performed;
•The cost to the organization of providing the benefit; and
•The connection between the benefit received and the performance of services.
(emphasis added)

 

So, if a co-op gives an insignificant monetary benefit to its volunteers, it is not taxable income. The IRS does not define insignificant, but here ares two examples that might help:

Insignificant benefits to a volunteer
A volunteer teacher was given a $50 discount off her $250 tuition for teaching a class. She put in a minimum of 30 hours preparing and teaching this semester-long class. That’s is an hourly rate of less than $2/hour. That seems pretty insignificant to me! It cost nothing for the co-op to offer this benefit. The co-op offered this discount as an incentive to increase volunteerism and it was not payment for services.

Significant benefits are taxable income
Another co-op gave their director several thousands of dollars in gift cards to grocery stores and Target, gave her children free tuition worth $1,500,  waived all field trip fees, theater ticket fees and registration fees amounting to hundreds more in benefits. These were NOT insignificant and were compensation for her services. The co-op thought that by giving gift cards and reduced tuition they could avoid payroll taxes and the paperwork of hiring and paying their director as an employee. They were wrong! The director should be treated as an employee. She should report all these benefits as taxable compensation.

Conclusion
Homeschool leaders should determine if the benefits of reduced tuition of fees they are giving to volunteers are insignificant. Look to the IRS guidelines in IRS Publication 3079 listed above. If the benefits are significant and are compensation for services, then it needs to be reported as taxable income to the worker/volunteer.

My ebook Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help you determine the paperwork and reporting for workers.

Carol Topp, CPA

Will a nonprofit owe taxes on income from selling ads?

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We considering including advertising in our conference brochure. Can we consider this conference (exhibitor) income? Or is it UBI (Unrelated Business Income)?
We are also considering placing advertising in our magazine (and our website). Is this UBI? And how do we track it? And how do we report it? And what percent taxes would we pay on it?
Dorothy in OR
Dear Dorothy,
Advertising revenue is definitely Unrelated Business Income (UBIT) in the eyes of the IRS, because selling ads is not related to your tax exempt purpose (education), but you can avoid paying taxes on the unrelated business income in several ways.

The IRS offers several exceptions to UBI Tax (UBIT):

  1.     A $1,000 threshold allows that the first $1,000 in income from an unrelated business will not be taxed.
  2.     If the fundraiser (or unrelated business) is run substantially by volunteer efforts (i.e., no paid staff) then the proceeds are not taxed.
  3.     If the fundraiser is not regularly carried on, such as a once-a-year spaghetti supper, then the proceeds are not subject to UBIT.
  4.     If you are selling donated items, like in a garage sale, the income raised is not taxed.

I think #1 or #2 will apply to your group, so can get income from advertising without worrying about paying tax on it.

It’s a good idea to create a line item in your record keeping labeled “Advertising Income” so it’s clearly differentiated from other income.

Carol Topp, CPA

Can homeschool teachers be allowed to keep extra money as a donation?

Dollarsinhand

Dear Carol,

I have purchased and am reading your ebook Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization. Thank you for making this available!

We are a co-operative, so all are teachers are basically volunteers. I do, however, collect on their behalf an estimated class contribution to help them cover costs related to teaching: curriculum, printing handouts and lesson plans, consumables used in class etc. This amount is determined by the teacher, usually $5-10 up to $50 per semester depending on the class. These funds are collected and then dispersed to the instructor at the beginning of the semester. We don’t require receipts or an accounting to be submitted. Any remaining funds are considered a “donation” to the teacher to recognize their time and effort in preparing and teaching the class. Teachers are not required refund monies back to the families.

Most of us feel that this structure is reasonable. However, one member is questioning. Does our policy seem acceptable from a legal position?

Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to answer my questions.

God bless your service,
Rose

Rose,

Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad the ebook was helpful.

This statement bothers me greatly, “We don’t require receipts or an accounting to be submitted. Any remaining funds are considered a “donation” to the teacher to recognize their time and effort in preparing and teaching the class.”

When you do not request receipts, you are running what the IRS calls an “non-accountable” plan for reimbursements.

The remaining funds that you let your teachers keep is not a donation, it is a payment for services and is taxable income that needs to be reported to the IRS. Actually, the full amount you give to the teachers is taxable income under a non-accountable plan.

I have written a few blog posts on the topic of paying volunteers, requesting receipts for reimbursements, etc. Please read these:

No receipts for expenses can get you in trouble
and
Should my homeschool co-op be giving any tax forms to our teachers?

Cover Money Mgmt HS OrgIn my book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization I discuss how to properly set up an accountable reimbursement plan (Chapter 7).

I hope you will change your practices (i.e set up an accountable plan for reimbursements and start requiring receipts) so that your teachers do not have to report their payments as taxable income.

Carol Topp, CPA

Homeschool CPA, Carol Topp returning to work part time

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Dear friends, clients, and visitors,

I thank you all for your patience and your prayers for me during my surgery and recuperation. The surgery went well and the surgeons are pleased. If you’re curious what I had done, read more here: http://homeschoolcpa.com/previvor/

The recuperation is taking longer than I expected. I returned to part time work on January 5, 2016, but I can only sit at my computer for a few hours before I need a rest.

I may not reply to you emails in as timely manner as I would like, so please be patient.

I hope to return to full time work in February, Lord willing.

Thank you for your patience as I continue progressing (and resting) toward a full recovery.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Homeschool leader collecting donations without tax exempt status.

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I’m recuperating from surgery and will be unavailable to answer your emails until January 2016. Until then, here’s how you can get help.


Our homeschool group leader just opened a Paypal account and has begun asking for donations. This seems a little weird and as though we need to be a nonprofit if money is collected from members. I referred her to your website, but she believes we have nothing to worry about. Is this true? Should we be a nonprofit if money is involved? How can I help her understand the ramifications of not using your resources?
Randi

Randi,

Thank you for contacting me.

Oh dear, your leader thinks she has nothing to worry about! It’s just not that way anymore!

Whenever an organization collects money from either member dues or donations, the leaders have a fiduciary responsibility for managing that money properly. If they do not manage the money properly or get organized properly with the IRS, the leaders can be held personally liable for any mistakes.

This blog posts explains the fiduciary responsibility of leaders: http://homeschoolcpa.com/what-are-the-legal-responsibilities-of-homeschool-leaders/

An organization cannot accept tax deductible donations unless they have 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS. Most homeschool groups collect membership dues, but those are not “donations” and they should not be called donations.

How can you help your leader be more responsible? Explain that if your group is not properly organized then the money she is accepting will be seen as her taxable income by the IRS and she will have to pay taxes on it!

To get properly organized start by reading a few of my blog posts and articles.

This quick video may help as well: https://youtu.be/FLvfw23z7M0

Good Luck!

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Homeschool Leadership is Like Marriage Part 2 (podcast)

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Leading a homeschool organization can be like marriage. It’s helpful to know what you’re getting into!.

Carol Topp shares insights on leadership from Hebrews Chapter 13 with a group of homeschool leaders in this 2nd part of a two-part episode. She shares three warning of attitudes to avoid.

Listen to the podcast.

Listen to Part 1. where Carol warned against trying to meet everyones’ expectations.

For more help in leading a homeschool organization check out Carol’s book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out.

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Giving receipts for donations to a homeschool group

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Do we need to offer a written letter or some sort of receipt for donations to our organization?
If we are hosting a parent event and door prizes have been donated, how is that handled?
Do we need for the donor to give us a receipt or some sort of written statement stating the value of an item that has been donated?
Is there a particular format or template for receipts given to donors?
Thanks so much!
Darlene
Darlene,

Yes, you should give a receipt for donations. The IRS Publication 4221-PC p. 26 explains it all. Be sure to include a note about “No goods or services were given in exchange for this donation.”The value of donated goods is determined by the donor, not your organization as the charity. You can give a thank you letter to the donor and fill in a description of the item donated, but not its value.

Sort of like Goodwill does when you drop off stuff. They have a stack of cards at the drop off counter. Goodwill fills in the date, but the value of the donation is filled in by the donor.
No, there are no official donation receipt forms.
Just follow the example of Goodwill or your church.
Carol Topp, CPA

I’m recuperating from surgery and will be unavailable to answer your emails until January 2016. Until then, here’s how you can get help.


Homeschool Leadership is Like Marriage Part 1 (podcast)

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Leading a homeschool organization can be a lot like marriage. They both take time, money, and sacrifice, but can be hugely rewarding.

Join Carol Topp as she addresses a group of homeschool leaders to encourages them in the important work they are doing, but also reminds them not to try and meet everyone’s expectations.

Listen to the podcast

For more help in running a homeschool organization check out Carol’s website, HomeschoolCPA.com where you can purchase her book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out

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