Does your homeschool group publish curriculum? Nonprofits and copyrights webinar



Has your homeschool group considered creating and selling its own curriculum?
Do you know what you need to know about trademarks and copyrights?


This webinar on copyrights for nonprofits might be interesting and helpful to you.
I’ll be attending and already submitted a question about copyright ownership by a nonprofit.


Ask the Nonprofit Lawyer: Everything You Wanted to Know about Nonprofit Copyrights and Trademarks

Register here (free)

Date: November 5, 2015
Time: 2 p.m. ET

In this Q&A-driven webinar, you’ll have the opportunity to submit your own questions to one of the nation’s leading nonprofit attorneys from the Venable law firm as he walks you through the essentials, highlights common traps and pitfalls, discusses best practices in the nonprofit community, and most importantly, gives you the thoughtful, practical, real-life guidance and tips that you need to know in order to protect your nonprofit in the U.S. and overseas, as well as optimize and capitalize on your nonprofit’s intellectual property.

This webinar is geared toward all nonprofits, probably very large organizations, not specifically homeschool organizations.  Some of the information may not apply to your organization, but if you publish curriculum or have questions about trademarks and copyrights, you might learn a lot!
Carol Topp, CPA

Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out (podcast)


In her most recent podcast  Carol Topp, CPA, the author of Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out, covers tips to starting a homeschool co-op.

Listen to the podcast

Carol covers the 4 W’s and 2 Cs that leaders need to answer in launching a new co-op:

What, Where, When, Who, and Cost and Curriculum


Homeschool Co-ops Cover

Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out has helped more than 1,000 readers run their homeschool co-ops. Get your copy here.

Carol has more podcast episodes for homeschool leaders. View the topic list.

A new nonprofit corporation. Do they need to reapply for 501c3 status?

homeschool nonprofit

Hi Carol,

I have been listening to your podcasts. Our group is already a 501c3 registered charity with the IRS. Unfortunately, we registered with our state as an unincorporated association. We would like the limited liability of a non-profit corporation and have the funds to apply, but after listening to your podcast I have a few questions:

1) Do we need to set up a new bank account? Or just change the set up on our current accounts? We have a Paypal linked, Amazon Smile account, Cash for Our Cause through our bank.

2) Will this affect anything with our IRS account? We won’t have to re-apply for 501c3 status will we?

Thanks for your help!
Misty in Texas



I hope some of my podcasts were helpful! Thanks for listening.

Bad news: You need a new EIN and must reapply for tax exempt status

If your organization now wishes to become a nonprofit corporation (and I highly recommend it), you will have to get a new Employer Identification Number (EIN) and re-apply for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in the name of your new corporation with its new EIN.

When you create a corporation, it is a new legal entity. So the IRS wants you to get a new EIN and makes you go through the 501(c)(3) application process again. Bummer.

Here’s a recent blog post on that issue:

Good News: It’s easier to apply for 501(c)(3) status

Fortunately, the IRS does have a new short application for 501(c)(3) status, Form 1023-EZ. I have assisted about 25 nonprofit organizations get tax exempt status the new Form 1023-EZ. Some have received their tax exempt status in 10 days. That’s much faster than the 3 to 13 months in the past! Contact me if you’d like my help in applying (or reapplying) for tax exempt status.

The bank should make you open a new bank account with the new EIN. Paypal, Amazon Smile, etc. probably don’t care about your new corporate status, but you will need to re-connect them to your new bank account.

Carol Topp, CPA

Preparing Strong Independent Contractor Agreements



From, a website with articles focusing on nonprofit law, comes this excellent list of items to have in an agreement with an independent contractor.

Many homeschool organizations hire independent contractors to teach a class or offer a service, so having a good, strong IC agreement is important.

I included a sample independent contractor agreement in my book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization. I might need to tweak it and include some of these provisions.

I hope you find this list helpful.

Preparing Strong Independent Contractor Agreements

–Written agreement signed by both parties
–Clearly defined scope of work
–Worker decides how the work is to be performed
–Require invoicing and, if practicable, fixed-fee-type payments
–Clearly defined and, if practicable, limited termination rights
–Clear statement of independent contractor status and ineligibility for benefits


–Limited training or instruction required
–Worker decides when and where work is to be performed or works off-site
–Worker provides own tools, equipment, staff
–Worker has freedom to contract with others for his or her services
–Compensation should not resemble a salary
–Termination only for nonperformance/breach of contract
–Avoid circumstances where contractor position is identical to those of W-2 employees


Carol Topp, CPA

Using Paypal in a homeschool group

Paypal logo

Over at the I am a Homeschool Group Leader there was a discussion on using PayPal to collect fees.

Here’s some of the tips and advice given:

We set up a PayPal and separate bank account. It has made it so easy for accepting payments. Our registration is $100. If they pay by PayPal, we’ve included a $4 fee to cover the finance charges. Nobody has complained. Others have mailed in checks for just the $100.


We set up a co-op email & registered the PayPal account to that email exclusively. We didn’t think to increase the fees to cover the PayPal fees, but will probably do that next year – since they are something like 2% plus $.30 cents per transaction. This has made the PayPal account entirely for the co-op – even the email comes up with the co-op name in the email. All deposits or payments to or from the PayPal account will only be linked to our co-op account. Similar to another member, myself, and the treasurer have access to our bank accounts and PayPal accounts and they are checked very regularly.


One other thing… you have to connect this to an email address that does not yet have a PayPal account (last time I talked to PayPal, they were discussing changing this) so you may have to set up an email for your group, if you don’t already have one.


Any other payments can also be received there for other things like field trips, parties, etc. I love it. Makes keeping the books so easy. There are a few people who still don’t use PayPal (especially in light of their new privacy policy), so we do still keep some records the old fashioned way.


You can setup a nonprofit account with PayPal so your fees aren’t as high. We only use PayPal for enrollment so we opened the account for two months. Closed it with no issues and will reopen next year during enrollment. No need to pay monthly fees for an account we aren’t using accept once a year.


We started using PayPal as soon as we started using Homeschool-Life website. It has been so much easier for our treasurer than cash & checks and tracking people down. We use this site to help us figure our PP fees
We ne
ed to look into converting it to a non profit account since we have our official 501 status. I believe the fees are lower then. Our families love the convenience and the generated receipt from PayPal.


Does your homeschool group use Paypal? Anything to add? Comment below or on my Facebook page.

Carol Topp, CPA

Co-ops, Support group? How to define homeschool organizations


I frequently ask homeschool leaders, “Is your homeschool group a co-op or a support group?”

It’s a basic questions that will influence how I advise them. It should be easy to answer, but more often I hear “Both” or “Well…I’m not sure” or even “We’re sort of a school for homeschoolers.”

The world of homeschooling is changing and it’s getting harder to define our groups.  Support groups morph into co-ops. Co-ops add many support activities. Some co-ops grown into school-like programs.

The Arizona Home Education website has a definition of each type of homeschool group.

Homeschool Support Group Definitions

What do you think of their definitions?

Pretty good, I think.

Here’s my attempt to define each type of homeschool group. It’s incomplete and will probably change over time as creative homeschoolers start new types of groups to meet the needs of future homeschooling families..

Support Group: a gathering of homeschool parents or those interested in homeschooling for information and support. Typically hold monthly meetings for parents and may organize field trips or social events for children and families.

Homeschool Co-op: A gathering of homeschool parents and students who cooperate together in sharing teaching responsibilities for their homeschooled students. Usually meets once a week and frequently all-volunteer.

Homeschool Educational Program: Academic and enrichment classes for homeschooled students. May hire qualified teachers to conduct the program. Usually more expensive than an all volunteer co-op.

Homeschool Sport/Music/Art Program: Similar to a homeschool program , but focuses on sports, music, or art.

Homeschool Club (Lego, Speech/Debate, Yearbook, etc): A club focusing on a specific topic for homeschooled students. Frequently organized under a homeschool support group, but clubs can be stand-alone as well.

Homeschool Business: a for-profit business offering services to homeschooling families. Can be tutors, book sellers, and even my, business HomeschoolCPA offering accounting and tax advice to homeschool organizations.

 How did I do? Leave your comments here or on my Facebook page.

Carol Topp, CPA

Incorporated in your state? Time for a new EIN!


I just updated my article on “Getting an EIN from the IRS”  (on my Articles page) because my original article neglected to mention that your organization needs a new EIN after you incorporate as a nonprofit corporation in your state.

Here’s what I added:

If your group became a nonprofit corporation in your state, then you need a new EIN from the IRS in the name of the new corporation. A corporation is a new legal entity and you need a new EIN to match it. Use the same name as you used when incorporating. Look on the certificate you received from your state for your official legal name.

Read the full, updated article here: Getting and EIN from the IRS 


Cover Money Mgmt HS OrgIf you have questions about applying for an EIN or the Form SS-4, read the chapter on “Checking Accounts Done Right” in my book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization


If you have questions about setting up or running your homeschool organization, visit or consider a private phone consultation with me.



What? Homeschool support groups cannot be religious?!



Our homeschool support group has a statement of beliefs that every member must sign to be a member.

However, I was reading the 501c7 guidelines  for Social Clubs and learned that we cannot discriminate based on religion.

Does that mean in order to be tax exempt we cannot require a belief statement?
Lana in TX

Lana is referring to this IRS statement on Social Clubs. Most homeschool support groups fit the criteria to be tax exempt as a 501(c)(7) Social Club.

The club’s governing instrument may not contain a provision that provides for discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color, or religion.


Like many laws, you need to keep reading to see if there are exceptions to the general rule.
And there are some exceptions. The IRS guidelines state:

The statute does not require a club to have a certain percentage, or even any, of its members from different, racial or religious groups. So long as there are no written restrictions, a club does not violate the discrimination provisions.


But Lana’s group does have a written policy, a Statement of Faith, that every member needs to sign.

Does that mean homeschool support groups cannot have a Statement of Faith?

Read on…

IRC § 501(i)(2) provides an exception for a club which in good faith limits its membership to the members of a particular religion in order to further the teachings or principles of that religion, and not to exclude individuals of a particular race or color.

(i) Prohibition of discrimination by certain social clubs

Notwithstanding subsection (a), an organization which is described in subsection (c)(7) shall not be exempt from taxation under subsection (a) for any taxable year if, at any time during such taxable year, the charter, bylaws, or other governing instrument, of such organization or any written policy statement of such organization contains a provision which provides for discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color, or religion. The preceding sentence to the extent it relates to discrimination on the basis of religion shall not apply to—

(1)an auxiliary of a fraternal beneficiary society if such society—

(A)is described in subsection (c)(8) and exempt from tax under subsection (a), and
(B) limits its membership to the members of a particular religion, or
(2) a club which in good faith limits its membership to the members of a particular religion in order to further the teachings or principles of that religion, and not to exclude individuals of a particular race or color. ( my emphasis added)


So, Lana’s homeschool support group can have a statement of faith and discriminate on the basis of religion provided their purpose is to further the teachings and principles of their religion (and they don’t discriminate on the basis of race or color).

Carol Topp, CPA

Is my homeschool group considered a school?


Hi Carol,
I took a look at the 1023-EZ worksheet to see if we qualify for filing as a tax exempt organization. Question #11 asks if we are an educational facility. Then it goes on to define what they mean. I do not know how our organization would not fall into that category. Our goal is to support homeschooling families by providing weekly classes for middle and high school students. We do make it clear that our tutors are working alongside parents. Parents have the final decision on the grade their student will receive for the class. So, what do you think? Does that mean we do not qualify to apply for tax exempt status?



Form 1023-EZ Eligibility Checklist Question #11 asks if your origination is a school, college or university described in section 170(b)(1)(a)(ii). That part of the Internal Revenue Code describes a school. I do not consider homeschool programs to be a school as the IRS defines “school.”

One aspect of a school is a “regular faculty,” which the IRS defines as

“qualified teachers instruct the students, and the same teachers do so on a recurrent basis.”

Source: Internal Revenue Manual  viewed on 5/11/15.

And by “qualified” the IRS means:

“certifications by the appropriate state authority or successful completion of required training.”

Source: Instructions for Form 1023

So when you look beyond the Eligibility Checklist into the guts of the IRS code, you’ll probably agree with me that homeschool organizations are not schools because they do not have regular, “qualified” faculty. Most of the teachers in your homeschool organization may be qualified to teach a class at your homeschool co-op, but are not state certified, nor trained as teachers.

Your homeschool organization (probably) qualifies to be a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization as an educational organization, but not as a school.

I hope that helps!

Carol Topp, CPA

How to know your status with the IRS


We are trying to figure out what our status with the IRS is. We are a support group/co-op and just recently learned that we should be filing the 990N. We registered our name with the state in 2008. We got out EIN in 2009. We became incorporated in September 2014. Our annual gross revenue is less than $5,000.

 We have searched the IRS database of groups that have had their tax exempt status revoked and we are not listed. How do we find out what our status is and when the IRS is considering our date of formation so we know how to proceed?
Thanks for your help!
Anna in Ohio
Dear Anna,

You referred to an IRS database of exempt organizations called Select Check. I use it frequently to check on the status of nonprofit organizations.

But many times a homeschool nonprofit organization cannot find their name in the IRS database, usually because they have not applied for tax exempt status. That’s the situation for your group.

Your legal status is that you are a nonprofit corporation who can self declare your 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Since your revenues are less than $5,000,  you can self declare your 501(c)(3) tax exempt status and do not have to officially apply for tax exemption.

The IRS considers your date of incorporation as your “date of formation.” You should get a new EIN for the new corporation and not use the old EIN from 2009. The IRS considers a corporation a new legal entity and you should get a new EIN to match it. Getting and EIN from the IRS

Even though you didn’t have to officially apply for 501(c)(3) status, the IRS does require you to file an annual information return, the Form  990-N. To be able to file the Form 990-N, you need to call the IRS Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500 and ask to be added to their exempt organization database so you can begin filing the Form 990Ns. It typically takes 6 weeks after you call to be added to the IRS database.

Say something like this,

“We’re a new 501(c)(3) educational organization and my CPA said I needed to get added to the IRS exempt organization database so we could start filing our Form 990-N.”

They will ask for :

  • your EIN(Employer Identification Number)
  • organization’s name
  • address
  • a contact name
  • Date your fiscal year ends. Many support groups operate on a calendar year, but some operate on a school year with a year end of June 30 or July 31. Look at the form you filed when you applied for your EIN (SS-4) to see what you chose as your fiscal year end.
  • They may ask if you have “organizing documents.” They mean bylaws, Articles of Association, or Articles of Incorporation.

Call the IRS early in the morning. They open at 8 am ET and you can usually get through pretty quickly of you call then. Record the date you call, the IRS employee name and their identification number.

Be sure you go online to file the Form 990-N anytime after your fiscal year ends and before its due date which is 4 1/2 months after the end of your fiscal year.