Use Quickbooks online for free

I encourage my nonprofit clients to use QuickBooks online (or other online accounting software) and now qualified nonprofits can use QuickBooks online for FREE!

TechSoup, a charity that arranges free or discounted software for nonprofit organizations, offers

One year subscription to Quickbooks online for up to 5 users.

Do this NOW!

If you manage bring in than $20,000 in revenues per year I recommend you start using accounting software. If you have more than $50,000 in revenues in a year I HIGHLY recommend you start using accounting software and Quickbooks online is an excellent choice.

Make it a New Years resolution for 2017 to start using accounting software and be a better money manager of your homeschool organizations finances.

Lots of homeschool parents are depending on you to run your organization successfully.

The advantages are huge:

  • Multi-user so you don’t overburden one person with all the record keeping. Even a bookkeeper or CPA (like me) can log in remotely (with your permission).
  • Online backup so nothing is lost.
  • Email invoices so you can easily track who still owes you.
  • Create reports that show how much money has been spent.

Help is available

Are you afraid of accounting software? It can be complicated, but Tech soup offers some helpful videos.

Or if you prefer more personal help I can recommend some homeschool moms and dads with accounting and bookkeeping experience who can help you. They know QuickBooks and have experience with homeschool organizations. These wonderful bookkeepers can help you get setup (that’s the hardest part), do a monthly or quarterly check up to see if you’re using the software correctly, and answer questions you have.

Email me to get a recommendation of a homeschool-friendly QuickBooks expert.


There are a few catches to TechSoup’s free program:

  • You need to be a qualified nonprofit organization, that means nonprofits with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.
  • You need to re-subscribe each year, but the renewal fee is free.

What have you got to lose?

If you don’t take advantage of this offer please tell me why in the comments or email me. I want to understand your concerns or obstacles.

Carol Topp, CPA

 

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Do the new overtime rules affect homeschool groups?

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The US Department of Labor (DOL) proposed new rules about paying workers overtime. Several people have asked me if homeschool organizations have to follow these new rules.

My answer is that yes, in general, homeschool organization whether nonprofit organizations or for-profit businesses have to follow the rules in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regarding minimum wage and overtime.

But occasionally, there are exceptions, so read on!

New Overtime Rules

The new overtime rules were supposed to take effect December 1, 2016. (They been held up by an injunction by a federal judge). The new proposed rules raise the threshold for when an employee is exempt from getting paid overtime. If your employee makes less than $47,476/year, you must pay them overtime at time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours a week. The threshold used to be only $23,660/year, so this was a big jump. Under the new proposed rule many more workers are eligible for overtime.

The impact on nonprofits and churches of paying overtime could be huge since many of their employees put in more than 40 hours a week. They work long hours because they are passionate about their mission. Fortunately, the Department of Labor has an exception to the FLSA for nonprofit organizations.

Exceptions to New OT Rule for Nonprofit Organizations

Here’s an except from”Overtime Final Rule and the Non-Profit Sector” a paper from the US Department of Labor available at https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/overtime-nonprofit.pdf

the FLSA applies to businesses with annual sales or business of at least $500,000. For a non-profit, enterprise coverage applies only to the activities performed for a business purpose (such as operating a gift shop or providing veterinary services for a fee); it does not apply to the organization’s charitable activities that are not in substantial competition with other businesses. Income from contributions, membership fees, many dues, and donations (cash or non-cash) used for charitable activities are not counted toward the $500,000 threshold.

Let me unpack that for you.

If your nonprofit has less than $500,000 in “business” income (that does not count your contributions, membership fees or dues), then your organization is not covered under FLSA and you do not need to comply with the overtime rules.

Here’s an example from a longer DOL document, “Guidance for Non-Profit Organizations on Paying Overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.” available at https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/final2016/nonprofit-guidance.pdf

A non-profit animal shelter provides free veterinary care, animal adoption services, and shelter for homeless animals. Even if the shelter takes in over $500,000 in donations in a given year, because the shelter engages only in charitable activities that do not have a business purpose, employees of the animal shelter are not covered on an enterprise basis.

By “not covered on an enterprise basis,” the DoL means the FLSA does not cover the workers and they are not entitled to overtime.

A lot of homeschool nonprofit organizations just breathed a sigh of relief. They rarely have business income and it almost never exceeds $500,000, so they do not have to pay their employees overtime.

Warning: It’s not as simple as it seems!

This issue is not as simple as saying, “My nonprofit doesn’t have $500,000 income, let alone “business” income, so we don’t have to pay any employee overtime.”

I urge you to read the DoL documents I mentioned above and consult with an experienced professional familiar with employee laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act in particular.

The Kentucky Nonprofit Network offers a helpful 9-page report on steps to take if your nonprofit is affected by the new overtime rules (when and if they go into effect).

Carol Topp, CPA

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Are you asking for donations on your website?

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Does your homeschool group accept donations on your website? Lots of nonprofits do and its a handy way for donors to send a donation.

But did you know that having a donation button on your website could mean that your organization would need to register as a charity in almost all 50 states? What a load of paperwork!

Harbor Compliance explains that, fortunately, many states follow the Charleston Principles for accepting donations on a website.

Generally, the Charleston Principles assert that registration (with each state) should only be required if:

  • non-internet activities alone suffice to require registration, or
  • the nonprofit solicits contributions through its interactive website or specifically invites further offline activity to complete a contribution, and either:
    1. Specifically targets persons physically located in the state, or
    2. Receives repeated or substantial contributions. (“Repeated” and “substantial” are left up to each state to define.)

The principles leave a lot of room for interpretation, which brings us to some practical state-specific pointers.

Top 5 Tips When Soliciting Donations Online:

As you prepare to solicit donations online:

  1. Always register in your state of incorporation.
  2. Following-up with fundraising contacts residing in unregistered states may trigger registration. For example, you receive an unsolicited and insubstantial contribution through your website from a resident of a state in which you are not registered. If you then solicit that contact via e-mail, phone, mail, or any other medium, that will be treated as solicitation triggering registration. E-mail is generally treated the same as a mail or in-person solicitation.
  3. Soliciting through a charity portal alone such as www1.networkforgood.com does not trigger registration. That is because it is a donor-advised fund that exists to distribute funds to other nonprofits. Technically the donation is given to the fund as the payee. Scrutinize any website before assuming it is a donor-advised fund; their fine print may pass the burden of charitable registration on to you.
  4. Your nonprofit may consider hosting a non-interactive websites that encourage donations through third-party sites or offline means. This may still trigger registration – it is not a loophole.
  5. You can use social media to send out information about your nonprofit’s activities without needing to register. When your language invites solicitation, you do need to register. A fan promoting donation independent of the nonprofit does not trigger registration.

Thanks to Harbor Compliance for this helpful information.

My source: https://www.harborcompliance.com/information/online-fundraising-charleston-principles

Carol Topp, CPA

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What financial reports do we need to generate monthly?

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Hi Carol,
We have purchased QuickBooks and our treasurer is working hard to learn  the software. What financial reports do we need to generate monthly?  We need these reports to be a simple process.The Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss statements in QuickBooks looks overwhelming.

Hilary S.

Hilary,

QuickBooks  can be as simple or as complicated as it needs to be. The reports your treasurer generates is based on what the board wants to see.

When I was treasurer, I gave my board a Profit and Loss statement.  They really liked to see the budget in one column and actual income and expenses in another column.  Then they could see how we were doing compared to our budget. This report can be generated in QuickBooks as a Budget Report.

I also created a mini balance sheet.  I took the amount in the checking account and then listed payments to be made.  This gave the board an idea of how much cash we had on hand and where it was planned to go.

If the stCover Money Mgmt HS Orgatements in QuickBooks are too overwhelming, then perhaps you’re not using QuickBooks correctly.  I frequently see QuickBooks users make their Chart of Accounts too long.  Then the Profit and Loss becomes 2-3 pages long.  I recommend that a Profit and Loss be kept to one page or less.

My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization could be a big help to your treasurer. It has tips, samples and lots of examples.

 

If your treasurer would like my help in setting up QuickBooks, I’d be happy to help.  She can e-mail me with what needs to be done and I’ll give you an estimated cost.

I hope that helps.  I wish you the best of success!

Carol Topp, CPA


Want more tips on managing money in your homeschool organization? Sign up for my email list and I’ll send you my list of “best practices.”

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HomeschoolCPA needs help and is hiring (please share!)

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Do you have an accounting background and want to help homeschoolers?

I’m Carol Topp, CPA, the HomeschoolCPA, and I’m looking to hire someone to help me.


This is a great opportunity for a homeschooling parent with an accounting background. It’s flexible, home-based, and very rewarding!


Description:

I’m looking for a subcontractor who will prepare IRS Forms 1023 and 990/990-EZ for my homeschool nonprofit clients. The completed forms will be submitted to me for review and signature. You will be an independent contractor, not an employee of Carol Topp, CPA, LLC.

You will work remotely from your home/office and chose your work hours. The hours are flexible and could be sporadic. There should not be any rush jobs. You should have several weeks to get the forms prepared, but there will be deadlines.

You will not be responsible for recruiting clients or corresponding with clients, but you are expected to keep client information confidential.

Duties:

  • Prepare IRS Form 1023 Application for Tax Exempt Status
  • Prepare Form 990, 990-EZ Annual Information Returns for Tax Exempt Organizations
  • Correspond with Carol Topp on a regular basis on the progress, data needed from the client, and questions you have.
  • Become familiar with IRS and state nonprofit filing forms. This may mean taking classes on preparing these forms. These classes are your responsibility.
  • Comply with federal, state, nonprofit filing requirements by studying existing and new regulations.

Qualifications:

  • Education (Bachelors degree from four-year college or university) and experience in accounting. CPA designation strongly preferred.
  • Familiarity with IRS Form 1023 and 990/990-EZ either through experience or through education.
  • Homeschooling experience desired.
  • Ability to work independently.
  • Attention to detail, deadline-oriented, confidentiality, time management

Compensation:

Compensation will be 50% of my fee charged to my client. The fee can be negotiated after a trial period based on experience and successful completion of preparing Forms 1023 and 990/9990-EZ in a timely and correct manner. Subcontractor will be paid when final form is delivered to Carol Topp, CPA.

Please share this information with everyone in your local homeschool group, though social networks, email and with your friends who you think might be interested.

If you’re qualified and interested in helping me, email me some information about yourself, your education and experience to Carol@HomeschoolCPA.com. We’ll set up a phone interview and discuss the job responsibilities.

 

Carol Topp 1200x1800

Thanks,

Carol Topp, CPA

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Avoid controlling your independent contractor

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This is an excerpt from my update book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization

Avoid Controlling Your Independent Contractor

If your homeschool group would like to exert some control over teachers such as choosing curriculum or class content, requiring teachers to attend training sessions, or evaluating their performance, then you should pay them as employees.

One homeschool co-op was very particular about what method of teaching and content was taught to their students. They picked the curriculum and required training in their methods and their view of instruction. Then they evaluated the teachers on their teaching style, control of the classroom, and engagement with the students. They may be too controlling for their teachers to be accurately classified as independent contractors. They could increase the likelihood of properly treating the teachers as independent contractors by hiring teachers who are already trained in their methods and views of instruction, not require training (i.e., make it optional), and change their evaluation to focus on the completion of the tasks listed in their agreement and not focus on the teacher’s style of teaching. Or they could hire the teacher as an employee.

How Much Control is Too Much? The Plumber Test

How much you can control an independent contractor is a very difficult question to answer, because every situation is unique. Consider the model of a plumber when thinking about control and independent contractors. A plumber is an independent contractor who is hired for a specific, temporary job: to fix your plumbing. You usually have an informal, verbal agreement and may get an estimate of the cost before he begins work. He comes to your house at an agreed-upon time and brings his own tools. You may show him the problem and be in the room while he works, but you do not tell him how to do his job. You assume he knows what tools to use. He may return for additional work and will invoice you.

Now compare the plumber model to your relationship with your homeschool program’s independent contractors. Does it look like the plumber model? Then you are treating your independent contractors properly. If instead you exert more control over your workers than you do a plumber, then consider reclassifying them as employees.

If you need more information about your homeschool organization teachers, order Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization today and consider a personal Worker  Classification Consultation with me for your peace of mind.

Carol Topp, CPA


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Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization-2nd edition

$9.95 paperback
130 pages
Copyright 2017
ISBN 978-0-9909579-3-5

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Compensation to homeschool board members is taxable income

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This is an excerpt from my new book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization-2nd edition.

Compensation to board members is taxable income

I was recently reviewing the bylaws for a homeschool organization that stated,

Members of the Board of Directors may receive reasonable compensation for their services and may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in the maintenance of their duties.

A homeschool organization can compensate your board for their service, but compensation to board members is taxable income. If the board member is an officer (chair, vice chair, secretary, or treasurer) they must be paid as employees. Other board members who are not officers can be paid as independent contractors and given a Form 1099-MISC.

Did you catch that? If officers are compensated, the IRS laws* say they must be paid as employees. That means creating paychecks, paying payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare), preparing W-2s and quarterly filings with the IRS and your state, and may mean unemployment and workers compensation taxes too!

Does your homeschool group really want to deal with payroll? It can become an excessive burden on a treasurer or expensive if your organization hires a bookkeeper or payroll service. If you do choose to compensate your board members, I highly recommend using a payroll service.

*“Exempt Organizations: Compensation of Officers” https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/exempt-organizations-compensation-of-officers


I spent at lot of time doing research on this book so that homeschool leaders will know if they are paying their volunteers, board members, and workers legally and correctly.

I hope the book is helpful and lets you sleep at night not worrying about an IRS audit of your worker classification.

Carol Topp, CPA

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Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization-2nd edition

$9.95 paperback
130 pages
Copyright 2017
ISBN 978-0-9909579-3-5

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Can a homeschool group pay a volunteer?

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This is an excerpt from my update book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization

“Can we pay our homeschool co-op director? She works so hard.”

Yes, your homeschool organization can pay someone who works for the organization, but the pay must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The reporting responsibility will be on both the homeschool organization and the worker. Additionally, the organization will have to determine of the worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Other chapters in this book explain the required reporting and worker classification.

Instead of paying a worker, your homeschool organization can show appreciation to a volunteer in a variety of ways, but they may have tax consequences such as:

  • Reduced fees or tuition. Reduced tuition for classes or for a homeschool co-op fee is a nontaxable fringe benefit if it is insignificant (more on that in the book). If the tuition reduction is significant the value of the tuition is taxable income to the volunteer.
  • Gift cards, but they could be taxable income to the recipient if the cards are a replacement for payment for services and not a true gift.
  • Non-cash gifts such as flowers, books, a coffee mug or chocolate are excellent ways to express appreciation and are tax-free to the volunteer.

I’ll discuss each of these types of compensation (reduced fees, gift cards and non-cash gifts) to a volunteer in detail … (you’ll need to buy the book to read the details!)

Carol Topp, CPA


payingworkerscoveroutlined

Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization-2nd edition

$9.95 paperback
130 pages
Copyright 2017
ISBN 978-0-9909579-3-5

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Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization updated book is ready!

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Some people compare writing a book to giving birth. I can understand that! Please welcome my 12th “child.” This has been quite a labor!

This latest book book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization, is a major update to the 20 page ebook I released in 2009. Homeschooling has changed a lot in the past 7 years and homeschool leaders are asking a lot of questions about paying workers. The book grew from 20 to 130 pages!

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Can You Pay a Volunteer?
Chapter 2: Paying Board Members and Other Leaders
Chapter 3: Employee or Independent Contractor? Worker Classification
Chapter 4: Guidelines for Hiring Independent Contractors
Chapter 5: Tax Forms for Independent Contractors
Chapter 6: Payroll Taxes for Employers
Chapter 7: Tax Forms for Employers
Chapter 8: Sample Independent Contractor Agreements
Chapter 9: Resources

Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization,-2nd edition

$9.95 paperback
130 pages
Copyright 2017
ISBN 978-0-9909579-3-5

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The ebook version will available soon!

I hope you find the book helpful.

If it still leaves you with questions about your particular situation, I do offer a worker classification consultation. It is private, specific and will give you peace of mind.

Carol Topp, CPA

 

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What’s inside the new Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization book?

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I’ve updated my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization

It’s got a new cover. It’s grown from 20 to 130 pages, has an index, and a a bunch of sample agreements you can use with your independent contractors.
Here’s what you’ll find inside:

 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Can You Pay a Volunteer?

Chapter 2: Paying Board Members and Other Leaders

Chapter 3: Employee or Independent Contractor? Worker Classification

Chapter 4: Guidelines for Hiring Independent Contractors

Chapter 5: Tax Forms for Independent Contractors

Chapter 6: Payroll Taxes for Employers

Chapter 7: Tax Forms for Employers

Chapter 8: Sample Independent Contractor Agreements (I include 5 samples agreements: 3 for teachers, one for a speaker and one for other contractors like a bookkeeper)

Chapter 9: Resources

About the Author

Index

Does any of that sound helpful to your homeschool organization?
The book  in paperback will be available November 1.
The ebook version will be available in a few more weeks.
If you sign up for my email list, you will be sent a coupon code for 20% off the paperback price of $9.95.
Carol Topp, CPA