Board members who won’t do anything

 

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I hear from a lot of homeschool leaders that they have board members who don’t do much. How frustrating.

Here’s some advice:

Do something. The problem is likely to get worse and a board member who is not participating can demoralize the entire board.

But stay hopeful. Many board members need a reminder to be more conscientious. You’re all in this together. Some inactive board members may need to be let go. They may be grateful that you’ve given them a graceful way to reduce their work load or even leave the board.

  • Check to be sure that expectations were made clear to the board member before he or she joined the board. “I know you joined the board recently and I’m not sure that you realize that we ask all board members to attend the annual dinner and, hopefully, to help sell tickets. Let me explain to you what most board members do, so you can see whether you’ll be able to work on this with us.”

Here’s a good list of Requirements of Board members.to get you started.

  • Hold a board discussion at which expectations are reconsidered and reaffirmed. Agree on a list of minimal expectations for every board member, and ask people to suggest how they might individually help as well.
  • Be sensitive to possible health issues or personal reasons why a good board member isn’t participating as much as he or she has in the past.

Remember, homeschool leaders carry a lot or responsibility. Your inactive member may be having health, marriage, or parenting problems that she is not sharing with you. Show grace and compassion and she may be so grateful for your support that she becomes active again.


Sorry, but the rest of this content is available only to my email subscribers! I know that’s a little bit sneaky, but I want my email subscribers to get special content like this list of steps to help an inactive board member.

Subscribe to my email list and get helpful tips for dealing with a board member who won’t do anything as well as special reports, discounts and and helpful resources that I don’t share on my blog or website.

 

 

 

My book, Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out also has helpful advice in picking board members, managing volunteers, and running a successful homeschool organization.

HS Co-ops Cover_400

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

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Recording of Business Failure in the Homeschool Marketplace webinar

Yesterday I presented a webinar “Business Failure in the Homeschool Market that many of you (about 90!) attended.

 

Here’s the link to download the recording of the webinar.
The webinar lasted 2 hours because of all the questions asked, so it may take a few minutes to download.

 

Here’s a handout of the information I discussed.

 

We talked about
  • What triggers an IRS audit into worker classification
  • Factors to determine independent contractors or employee status
  • Consequences of misclassification and IRS programs to avoid penalties
  • What options are there for a homeschool co-op or academy
  • Are homeschool tutors or teachers at risk

I referenced my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization which may be helpful to many of you.

 I also mentioned that I offer a Worker Classification determination service if you need help determining if your workers are independent contractors or employees.

I’m happy to help and relieve any anxiety you have about this confusing topic.

Carol Topp, CPA

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What are the consequences of misclassifying a worker?

In the news and social media recently has been the sad story about a popular service offering classes for homeschool students having to close. In late December 2016, Landry Academy announced “It is with much sadness that we close the doors of Landry Academy.”

I do not know the details of their unfortunate situation, but it seems that there was an IRS requirement for Landry Academy to reclassify their teachers as employees, rather than independent contractors.

You may be wondering: What are the consequences of misclassifying workers?

Here’s what I tell business owners, nonprofit leaders, and anyone else hiring workers:

IRS Penalties

Under Internal Revenue Code section 3509 the penalties for worker misclassification include:

  • Paying a portion of federal income tax (1.5% of payroll),
  • Employer (100%) and employee (20%) shares of FICA taxes
  • Federal unemployment compensation taxes (FUTA).
  • In addition penalties for missed deposits (10%) and withholdings (20%) can be assessed.

Additional penalties include:

  • $50 for each Form W-2 that the employer failed to file because of classifying workers as an independent contractor.
  • A Failure to Pay Taxes penalty equal to 0.5% of the unpaid tax liability for each month up to 25% of the total tax liability.

Other Penalties

That’s pretty bad when you ad it all up, but the list of consequences goes on to include:

  • Penalties for failure to file state and local income tax withholding
  • Penalties due to unemployment insurance shortfalls
  • Worker’s compensation violations
  • Improper exclusion from benefit plans such as pension, retirement plans, health insurance, paid leave, severance pay, etc.

Here’s a long list of The Consequences of Misclassifying Your 1099 Contractors

Scared yet? You probably should be.

Worker misclassification is a serious issue and can cause significant financial hardship and has caused several businesses to close.

Here’s help

My book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help clear a lot of confusion, but perhaps you want to discuss your particular situation in a private, individual phone consultation.

I offer phone consultations to help you determine if your homeschool organization’s workers are employees or independent contractors. The phone call will be followed up with an email containing a fact-based determination and information to help you take the next steps.

To request a consultation, please contact me. I’m happy to help and relieve any anxiety you have about this confusing topic.

Carol Topp, CPA

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Webinar on business failure in the homeschool market

I am always saddened to hear about business failure in the homeschool market. I feel pain for the business owner, their employees and their customers.

  • How can this happen?
  • Can it be avoided?
  • What can a customer do if they have lost a lot of money?
  • What lessons can a homeschool business or homeschool co-op learn from others’ failures?
  • Are homeschool teachers and tutors at risk?

I’m going to answer all these questions and more during a live webinar hosted by Tammy Moore of Virtual Homeschool Group 

Webinar: Business Failures in the Homeschool Marketplace

 

Date: Saturday January 14, 2017

Time: 2:00 pm ET, 1:00 pm CT, 12 noon MT and 11:00 am PT. The webinar will last about 60 minutes.

Cost: Free

Topics:

  • For parents: How can parents avoid losing money?
  • For homeschool businesses and nonprofits: Could it happen to us?
  •  IRS audits, penalties and safe harbor provisions
  • Worker Classification: General guidelines and possible solutions
  • For homeschool teachers and tutors: Are you at risk?

Join the webinar  here

You’ll need to download the webinar application on your computer or mobile device before the webinar begins.

or phone in on Saturday January 14 at 2 pm ET/1 pm CT (only audio)

Call-in number: 571-392-7703

Participant PIN: 375 427 129 85

 

Here’s a handout I created.

I hope many of you will join me on Saturday January 14, 2017 to discuss this very important and timely issue.

Carol Topp, CPA

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Are Classical Conversations tutors employees or independent contractors?

Hi Carol,
I am a part of a Classical Conversations community with a Foundations/Essentials director. The Foundations/Essentials directors hire tutors to run the classrooms on community day.

I am concerned that the  tutors are being treated as employees even though they are paid as independent contractors. Can a Foundations director hire tutors as independent contractors and still be able to specify what time they start, what material to cover and for how long they are to cover it, require training in the summer and training every 6 weeks of class etc?

Would a contract help? It seems like the contract could call the tutor an independent contractor but the Director could still treat them like employees.

This is hugely concerning and our campus wants to operate in a legal way. We are considering hiring a lawyer to help us understand all this. Is the lawyer the way to go? Or would you be able to advise on how to handle this?

We want to be legal and try to sort out truth in this whole legal situation.

Thank you for your time,

Katherine

 

Katherine,

Thank you for contacting me. I have been talking to several Classical Conversation (CC) Directors and tutors about worker classification. It’s a confusing and complex topic!

Factors: control and key activity

The question of whether CC tutors are independent contractors (IC) or employees is not cut and dried, nor the same for every CC community. There are many factors to consider including some you mentioned such as training, specific time and place to work, the curriculum to use, etc.

Two factors to consider are: the amount of control and if the tutors are providing a key activity of the business. (By the way, these factors of control and providing a key activity apply to all types of homeschool groups, not just Classical Conversations.) Some homeschool organizations may control their tutors so much that they treat them like employees, while others may allow more freedom and could be properly classified as ICs. Some homeschool organizations may depend heavily on the tutors’ services as the key activity of the business, while other homeschool groups may not use tutors as the key activity because they rely on volunteer parents to teach their classes.

Would a contract help?

You asked, “Would a contract help? It seems like the contract could call the tutor an independent contractor but the Director could still treat them like employees.”

You’ve hit the nail on the heard. Having a contract is not assurance that a tutor is an independent contractor; how they are treated carries more weight in determining proper worker classification.

Worker Classification Determination

You asked, “Is the lawyer the way to go?  Or would you be able to advise on how to handle this?

I can make a fact-based worker classification determination. In this determination, I substantiate my opinion based on all the facts, not just the few you mentioned, and court cases involving worker classification.


Additionally, I also just updated  my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization. It explains both the current criteria the IRS uses and the criteria they have used in the past to determine independent contractor or employee status.

 

 

 

 

You could, of course, convert all your tutors to employees, and sleep better at night! I can explain the steps you’ll need to take.  It will be more paperwork and more expense, but you won’t worry about an IRS investigation on worker status.

Carol Topp, CPA

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Top 10 blog posts of 2016

 

Here is a round up of the top 10 most important blog posts from HomeschoolCPA in 2016.

 

Many of them have to do with paying workers in a homeschool organization, probably because I was asked a lot of questions about paying volunteers, giving discounts in stead of paying teachers and the difference between employees and independent contractors.

I also spent a lot of time in 2016 researching and writing Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization and my blog posts reflect what I was learning.

Compensation to homeschool board members is taxable income

Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization updated book is ready!

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

Can you discount a homeschool co-op class in lieu of paying the teacher?

How you pay your homeschool teachers could affect the property tax exemption for your host church

Can a homeschool group just get together without having to report to the IRS?

Adding religious purpose to bylaws and Articles

Use Quickbooks online for free

Are discounts to homeschool board members taxable compensation?

How the IRS defines a school

I wonder what 2017 will bring in the world of homeschool organizations!

Sign up for my email list to be kept up to date on the questions homeschool leaders are asking.

P.S. Subscribers to my email list get freebies, discounts and special reports I share only with them.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

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How to account for a surplus in your nonprofit records

Female hand counting money on computer keyboard calculator.

 Does your homeschool organization end the year with a surplus? Congratulations! Now, how do you record that surplus in your bookkeeping.
Currently we are carrying money over into this year from last year. This money doesn’t have a name, we have it on a line that says, “Balance Carried Forward from 2015-2016” in our income column. Should this be called “Starting Balance,” or should this be named something else?
In our next two budget years, we will have a surplus. We are unsure what to call this surplus money. We do have a reserve fund already set up in  our budget; would this be the place to put the surplus money and then carry that reserve fund over to the income/expense section year to year?
Thank you so much for all your help!!
Heidi R in PA

Heidi,

You’ve hit on something very basic in accounting: how to account for accumulated money (aka a surplus).

The surplus is not income for the year so it should not be added to your other sources of income. The surplus is really an asset. It is cash sitting in your checking account.

Accountants created a special financial statement called a Balance Sheet to list the assets and liabilities. For nonprofits, it’s called a Statement of Financial Position, which I like better as a name.

stmtfinlposition

I recommend you create a mini balance sheet/Statement of Financial Position to the side of your income and expenses statement. Put the bank balance as of a certain date. List any liabilities (debts you owe) too. Make a note of the cash in the bank that is set aside as your reserve fund.

Your reserve fund is not an expense. It is an asset (cash in the bank). It should be mentioned in a note on the Statement of Financial Position as a reminder to your board that although the money is in the bank, it’s not supposed to be spent.  It’s held in reserve for emergencies.

Cover Money Mgmt HS Org

I give examples of financial statements including the Statement of Financial Position in Chapter 4 of Money Management in a Homeschool Organization

I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping homeschool leaders

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IRS 990-N down until January 6 2017

The IRS has announced that their Form 990-N, the ePostcard, online filing system will be will be down from December 26, 2016 at 11:59 a.m. until January 6, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. EST due to an annual planned maintenance.

The IRS apologizes for any inconvenience.

The Form 990-N is due 4 1/2 months after the end of your organization’s fiscal year. Many homeschool groups have fiscal years that end on June 30 or July 31, so their 990-Ns were due November 15 and December 15, respectively.


Don’t know what I’m talking about or what an Form 990-N is? Read my 990-N FAQ page.

What’s a 990-N?

Since 2010, the IRS has required all nonprofit organizations file an annual information return. (All means all except churches) The IRS Form 990-N is a simple, online form that all nonprofit organizations with annual gross revenues of less than $50,000 must file every year. That means your homeschool group (unless you are under the ministry of a church).


 

If you are uncertain about your homeschool organizations tax exempt status, please contact me  for a private phone consultation.

My book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization will also explain your options to become tax exempt and the required reports for tax exempt organizations.

 

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Accepting in-kind donations of equipment or services

Carol,

My homeschool group (a 501c3 nonprofit) was donated $500 in science equipment. How to I record a gift like this in my record keeping? We use QuickBooks.

 

How wonderful to receive such a generous donation. As a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization the donation is a tax deductible contribution for your donor.

Thank the donor

First, be sure to thank the donor with a nice letter. State what the donation was (science equipment) but not the dollar amount. Only state the dollar amount when the gift is cash.

And be sure to include this note: “No goods or services were provided in exchange for this donation.”

Understand in-kind donations

A contribution that is paid or given in goods, commodities, or services instead of cash is called an “In-kind” contribution.

Free Church Accounting offers some great information on accepting and recording in-kind donations for small nonprofits like homeschool groups.

There are typically three categories of in-kind donations. They are

  • contributions of tangible and intangible goods
  • use of property
  • donations of services

Tangible gifts in-kind (physical goods that can be touched or held) include: furniture, equipment, food, clothing, supplies.

Example: The donation of science equipment is a tangible in-kind contribution.

Intangible gifts in-kind (goods have value but do not have a physical presence) include: trademarks, copyrights, patents, royalties, advertising.

Example: If a member of your homeschool group lets you print copies of her book or curriculum at no cost she has granted you an in-kind contribution of her copyright.

Use of property include free leased space and discounted rent.

Example: A church lets your homeschool co-op use their building for free.

Professional services given as gifts in-kind include services of accountants and bookkeepers, lawyers, plumbers or electricians, computer programmer, designers, technical support, etc.

Example: One of your members is an attorney and created bylaws for your organization.

Recording donations of in-kind contributions

Some small homeschool organizations don’t record in-kind contributions at all because they do not have to report financial statement to the IRS (they file the Form 990-N) or don’t use accounting software.

But if you would like to record your in-kind contributions in your accounting software here are a few examples from Free Church Accounting

An accountant donates 5 hours a month to do some accounting work that your organization would have had to pay another accountant to do. She regularly charges $100 per hour to do a similar service. To record this gift in-kind you would:

  • Debit Professional Service In-Kind $500
  • Credit In-Kind Contributions $500

Important reminder: Thank your donor for their services, but do not give them a tax deductible receipt for the value of their services. Donors cannot take a deduction for the time that they donated. Only donations of cash, tangible and intangible goods are tax deductible, not the value of services.


A business donates a portable building valued at $12,000. Assuming that your organization has a policy to capitalize assets of this value (meaning you depreciate the value over several years), you would record this gift in-kind like this:

  • Debit the fixed asset account (Portable Building In-Kind) $12,000
  • Credit the In-Kind Contributions $12,000

A person donates an computer valued at $400. Assuming that your organization has a policy to expense assets of this value (meaning you do not depreciate it; you deduct the full amount as an expense in one year), you would:

  • Debit the Equipment In-Kind (expense account) $400
  • Credit the In-Kind Contributions $400

 

Have more questions about properly recording your income, expenses and contributions? My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization can help.

Or contact me to get help with your accounting set up and transactions. I can refer you to a cadre of homeschool parents with experience in bookkeeping.

Carol Topp, CPA

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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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