Cincinnati Homeschool Convention

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I’ll be at the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati this weekend, April 9-11, 2015. I hope you’ll come by my booth #1420 and say hi if you’re there!

I’ll be speaking on:
Real Life Skills Learned by Running a Micro Business Friday at 8:30 am
and
Career Exploration for High School Students on Friday at 2:30 pm

and I’ll have copies of my new book, Career Exploration for Homeschool High School Students for sale-hot off the presses!

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Frugal homeschooling has drawbacks

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I read Cindy West’s blog post Warnings Against Frugal Homeschooling on Our Journey Westward blog.

It caught my attention. What could possibly be wrong with frugal homeschooling?

Cindy opened my eyes to potential problems in using all free materials (or too many freebies) in homeschooling.

Listen to the podcast here

 

In the podcast Cindy mentioned a few guides she uses to help plan her children’s academic progress. Read about them on her blog post Homeschooling Frugally: A Cautionary Tale

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Cindy West is the author of NaturExplorers nature study guides and Charlotte Mason Homeschooling. Find them at Shining Dawn Books.

Create a board binder of important papers for your homeschool organization

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I was helping a homeschool leader apply for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status for her homeschool co-op when she mentioned that she had created a binder of important papers. That’s an excellent idea!

I suggested she create three binders and share them with her board members, especially:

  • The secretary who is the keeper of the paperwork for the organization
  • The treasurer who is responsible for the annual reporting to the IRS and their state.
  • The board president whose job it is to make sure everyone else is doing their jobs.

All the board members are responsible for management of the nonprofit and compliance with nonprofit laws. Having a binder of important papers that leaders can to pass down future leaders will make sure the organization is managed well and in compliance with all its reporting obligations.

Here’s what to put in your homeschool organization binders:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) letter from the IRS.
  • Articles of Incorporation from your state. This should be the official certified copy with a date stamp proving that your Articles of Incorporation were filed with your Secretary of State.
  • Bylaws. Date them so you have the most recent copy.
  • IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter.
  • IRS Annual Information Returns, the Form 990N, 990-EZ or full 990s
  • IRS Form 8822-B to change the contact name associated with your EIN or to change your address
  • Any state annual reports you file. (If you don’t know what reports you need to file with the state, contact me and I can help.)
  • Helpful articles from HomeschoolCPA.com
  • Books by Carol Topp, CPA especially Money Management in a Homeschool Organization
  • HomeschoolCPA.com website.

 

I highly recommend that you laminate or protect in plastic sheets these important documents.

Pass these binders down to the leaders who succeed you!

Carol Topp, CPA

Easy to understand financial reports for a homeschool organization

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I see a lot of financial reports from homeschool groups. Some are clear, easy to understand and helpful to the board members.

Others are a confused mess.


Read about the most common record keeping mistakes that homeschool groups make and how to correct them in my book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization. 


 

Recently, I looked over a financial report from a large homeschool organization. They had two goals:

  • Make the financial statements easy to read and helpful to their board.
  • Make it easy to prepare their annual Information return, IRS Form 990. Because their financial reports were confusing, I spent extra time and money reclassifying their information to fit the IRS annual information return.

I recommended that this homeschool organization create a Chart of Accounts similar to the IRS Form 990 and other nonprofit organizations.

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Organizing the Chart of Accounts by categories and using subcategories and indents will make the financial reports easier to read and understand. This Chart of Accounts clearly separates Program Expenses and Administrative Expenses. Categories and subcategories  can be added as needed, but I encouraged the organization to keep the list short to make it easier to read the financial statements.

This organized report will make preparing the Form 990 easier (and less expensive).

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Did your homeschool group lose its tax status? (podcast)

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Your homeschool group may have lost its tax exempt status and not even know it! I explain this problem in an episode of the Dollars and Sense Show podcast.

Listen to the podcast here

In 2006, the IRS made filing an annual report (Form 990/990-EZ, 990-N) mandatory for nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits that failed to file the Form 990 for three consecutive years, had their tax exempt status automatically revoked.

In the podcast, I discuss how to know if your group’s tax exempt status was revoked and how to get it back.

Episode #36 Required IRS Reports for Homeschool Groups explains the Form 990.

My book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization is a helpful resource for homeschool organizations considering the benefits of tax exempt status. Available here.

If you would benefit from a personal phone consultation, I’d would be happy to help your homeschool organizations. Contact Carol.

Carol Topp, CPA

Tax forms for a special ed homeschool teacher

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Carol,

We started homeschooling our daughter who is special needs. We hired a special ed teacher and now with taxes around the corner we don’t know what we need to file.

Regards, B

Dear B,

I wrote a blog post on this topic that you may find helpful: Can I hire a homeschool governess?

In the article I mention the term “Household employee.” That’s the IRS term for nannies, housekeepers, gardeners, etc. who work in or around a personal residence.

Your hired teacher is probably not a “household employee.” Your hired teacher is probably similar to hiring a piano teacher or a tutor.Piano teachers and tutors are business owners, not household employees.  You are a customer of a person who is running her own business.

The teacher is the one who has to worry about reporting her income from you (or anyone else she works for) and deducing her expenses on her tax return.

I hope you had a clear discussion or written agreement with the special ed teacher about her employment status.

You do not get a tax deduction for what you pay her. There are (probably) no tax forms for you to give her.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Homeschool groups awarded 501c3 status in less than 10 days!

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Congratulations to the following homeschool organizations who received their 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS recently and in less than 10 days.

 

The Learning Connection of NJ

Christian Homeschool Organization Interact Connect encourage (CHOICE) of Peidmont, SC

Character Co-op of Noblesville, IN

Texas Bay Area Catholic Homeschool Organization in League City, Texas

 

If your homeschool organization needs help with applying for tax exempt status, please consider letting me, Carol Topp, CPA,  guide you. Here’s a description of my services.

“I have to tell you that I have been extremely busy and feel a less than qualified for this task.  We are all very pleased that you offer this service.”  -Karen, Homeschool leader in SC

IRS reports your homeschool group needs to file every year

IRS reports for homeschool groups

Your homeschool group should be filing some reports every year with the IRS. Did you know that?

Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, explains what forms homeschool groups should be filing with the IRS in this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show podcast.

Listen to the podcast here

In the podcast, Carol answers common questions from homeschool leaders such as:

  • We were told if our income is under $25,000 a year, we don’t have to file anything with the IRS. Is that true?
  • What changed? We never had to file anything with the IRS before!
  • But we’re not a 501c3 organizations (or don’t want to be), so why do we need to file anything with the IRS?
  • We don’t like government intervention. Why do we need to have anything to do with the IRS?
  • Our homeschool group doesn’t make any profit, so why do we have to file a tax return?
  • We’ve never filed anything with the IRS? We didn’t know we had to! Now what? Will be owe back taxes?

Here’s a helpful FAQ page explaining the IRS Form 990-N.

How to get added to the IRS database to file the Form 990-N.

If all this is new to you, don’t panic!

We can arrange a phone consultation with your homeschool leaders. Together we can sort out what needs to be done.

Contact me here.

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Is this a gift or compensation to a homeschool leader?

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I just purchased your e-book, Paying Workers in an Homeschool Organization.   It only briefly touched upon the issue I am most interested in, and I am wondering if you have additional resources to answer my question.

Our Steering Committee decided years ago to provide certain gifts and perks to our chairman whom they were in danger of loosing due to her family suffering financially at the time.   The financial hardship has passed, but the gifts and perks remain. Currently, our chairman receives these annual benefits:

  1. $1,000 in gift cards (usually grocery and gas gift cards)
  2. $700 in classes for her children – these are the fees paid directly to the independent contractor teachers
  3. $100 -200 in waived registration fees (These are fees that the co-op charges members.)
  4. $160 in free pizza/drinks/snacks
  5. reimbursements for costumes and drama-related costs for her children (all other members pay for these)
  6. $300-$500 in cash gifts collected from members and given directly to the chairman.

She is the only one to receive gifts and perks out of the co-op budget.

This has been a very difficult conversation at our co-op because our chairman does do an enormous amount of work.

Thank you!

Anne in PA

 

Anne,

When I read the list of “perks” your chairman receives I was shocked! Wow!

Most board members are happy with flowers or a small gift card.

According to the IRS,  an officer who is paid is an employee. That means the gift cards and cash she received should have been reported to her on a W-2!  And your group was supposed to pay employer taxes (SS/Medicare) on her “wages” and file quarterly tax forms with the IRS! Ugh!!!

When you pay independent contractor teachers on her behalf, you are paying her personal expenses. The IRS considers payment of personal expenses as taxable compensation. See  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopici93.pdf

My recommendation is to stop these excessive payments immediately. The IRS calls this “excess benefits” and can impose penalties and a 25% tax on what they deem “excessive.”

Here’s an excellent article on excessive benefits (they consider paying personal expenses for members of an officer’s family to be “excessive.”)
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/reporting-excess-benefit-transactions-the-irs.html

Here’s what they recommend:

If your nonprofit discovers an excess benefit transaction with a DP, it should make good faith efforts to correct it. To do this, you must have the disqualified person repay or return the excess benefit, plus interest, and then adopt measures to make sure the same situation doesn’t occur again. The IRS will take into account these efforts in deciding what penalties to impose and especially whether to revoke the nonprofit’s tax exemption. (emphasis added)

You can, of course, start paying her a salary that she will report as taxable income to the IRS. But payroll is expensive and a lot more work for your treasurer.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Accounting software recommendations for homeschool groups

I am thinking we will need to get QuickBooks to manage our finances.  Do we you recommend the nonprofit version?  I have not looked much into this yet.  Any input is greatly appreciated.

Nancy in CA

 

Nancy,

I don’t think you need the Nonprofit version of QuickBooks. Usually the Pro version is sufficient. The Nonprofit edition is helpful if you receive a grant and need to track grant expenses.

You may be eligible for a free version of QuickBooks. I wrote about it here: http://homeschoolcpa.com/quickbooks-for-free-to-nonprofits/

I discuss software options in a chapter in Money Management in a Homeschool Organization,
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You might want to consider cloud-based accounting programs such as Quickbooks online or Wave Accounting. I set up a small nonprofit on Wave recently. It’s working for them and it’s free!

Cloud-based accounting means that several people can access your accounting records from their home computers. That’s pretty nice. It also downloads your bank transactions automatically!

Carol Topp, CPA