We don’t want 501c3 status. Should we still include the IRS language in the Articles?

We recently formed a non-profit in Texas but do not want to file for 501c3 tax exempt status.  When we created our bylaws your site was very helpful to us.  I thought I read somewhere on your site that it is better to include the IRS 501c3 verbiage from the beginning so that if we ever decided to do that, it would already be included.

I now can not find where I thought I read that.

Do we need to include it anyway or should it be left out if we have no plans on filing 501c3?

Thanks so much,
Cathy

 

Cathy,

The IRS requires their specific language to be included in your “organizing documents.” That’s usually the Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Association if your group is not a nonprofit corporation.

This requirement is found in the IRS Instructions to the Form 1203 Application for Tax exempt Status and IRS Pub 557 Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization (p. 22)

If you have no plans to request tax exemption as a 501(c)(3) charitable or educational organization, then your Articles of Incorporation do not have to include the IRS required language.

 

But, being a CPA, I always think about money and taxes, so I will warn you that without 501 tax exempt status of some kind (501c3 or c4 or c7), your organization must be filing a corporate income tax return, IRS Form 1120, every year and paying  federal taxes on any surplus you had that year. Texas may have a corporate or franchise tax as well.

By the way, that Form 1120 can be pretty complex. You’ll probably need professional help from a CPA to prepare it. You have to prepare and submit this form every year even if you didn’t have any profit! The Form 1120 shows the IRS that you didn’t have any profit!

So, you might want to reconsider your decision not to apply for tax exempt status.

I’m happy to discuss the pros and cons of tax exempt status with your board. Contact me.

 

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Does a Nonprofit Need to File Any Tax Returns Before They Apply for Tax Exempt Status?

 

Does a nonprofit need to file a tax return before they receive tax exempt status?  Yes, the IRS requires organizations to file information returns before they apply for tax exempt status.

Here’s what the IRS website states:

Tax Law Compliance Before Exempt Status Is Recognized

An organization that claims tax-exempt status under section 501(a), but has not yet received an IRS letter recognizing exempt status, is generally required to file an annual exempt organization return.

So the answer is YES, you need to file either tax returns (and pay tax!) or information returns before you are granted tax exempt status.

In this short podcast episode (14 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, will explain this very confusing requirement.

 

Featured Product

Have more questions about your homeschool organization’s tax exempt status? My book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization would be a big help.

The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization

Does your homeschool group need to pay taxes? Could they avoid paying taxes by being a 501c3 tax exempt organization? Do you know the pros and cons of 501c3 status? Do you know what 501c3 status could mean for your homeschool group?

I have the answers for you in my book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization. The information I share in my book has been helpful to homeschool support groups, co-ops, music and sports groups and will help you understand:

  • The benefits of 501c3 status
  • The disadvantages too!
  • What it takes to make the IRS happy
  • What your state requires
  • Why your organization should consider becoming a nonprofit corporation
  • What is the difference between nonprofit incorporation and tax exemption
  • IRS requirements after you are tax exempt

Carol Topp, CPA

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Is My Homeschool Group Required to Have 501c3 Tax Exempt Status?

 

Some homeschool groups are very small and are not interested in the benefits of 501 c3 tax exempt status such as accepting donations or doing fundraising.

Do these small homeschool groups really need 501c3 tax exempt status?

No. They don’t.

They can run their activities without the benefits of 501c3 tax exempt status.

  • But then how does the IRS or their state view this group?
  • Will they owe taxes on any profits or surplus?

Yes, they will owe tax because they do not have tax exempt status.

If they have a surplus, how do they go about filing a tax return and paying taxes?

In this short podcast episode (13 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, will explains some options for Homeschool Groups.

In the podcast Carol mentioned …

The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization

Should your homeschool group be paying taxes? Could they avoid paying taxes by being a 501c3 tax exempt organization? Do you know the pros and cons of 501c3 status? Do you know what 501c3 status could mean for your homeschool group?

I have the answers for you in my book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization. The information I share in my book has been helpful to homeschool support groups, co-ops, music and sports groups and will help you understand:

  • The benefits of 501c3 status
  • The disadvantages too!
  • What it takes to make the IRS happy
  • What your state requires
  • Why your organization should consider becoming a nonprofit corporation
  • What is the difference between nonprofit incorporation and tax exemption
  • IRS requirements after you are tax exempt

Carol Topp, CPA

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Small charity grows and gets audited by the IRS for it!

A fellow CPA told me the story of what happened to a small charity.

The small charity thought they were eligible to file the new, easy, short IRS Form 1023-EZ to apply for 501c3 status.

Organizations can use the shorter, cheaper, online Form 1023-EZ if their annual gross revenues are less than $50,000/year and expect to be less than $50,000 for the next 3 years.

So off went the Form 1023-EZ application and the charity was granted 501c3 tax exempt status!

Then they held a fundraiser (or several fundraisers) that were successful beyond their dreams and their total revenue was OVER $50,000 in their second and third year. They filed (correctly) their annual information returns, Form 990-EZ, to report all their income and expenses.

That’s when they got a letter from the IRS.

The IRS was auditing them because the IRS claimed the charity should have filed the longer, more expensive, full Form 1023 when they applied because their annual revenues were more than $50,000/year. And the IRS was right, in hindsight.

The IRS auditor asked for:

  • The full application to be completed (its 26 pages!) along with copies of
  • Bylaws
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Financial statements for 5 years
  • A narrative explaining the activities of the organization
  • Minutes of meetings

That last requirement surprised me because the Form 1023 application doesn’t ask for minutes of meetings, but the IRS auditor did.

Fortunately this group had those minutes and with the help of their CPA, passed the audit!

Lessons learned:

  • Keep minutes of your meetings.
  • Have all your documents ready in case the IRS asks to see them.
  • If you are close to the $50,000 annual gross revenues threshold and think you could exceed it in your first 3 years, use the full length Form 1023 application form when applying for 501c3 tax exempt status.

 

 

Have more questions about the IRS, 501c3 tax exempt status, and your nonprofit?

Carol Topp’s book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization can help!

  • The benefits of 501(c)(3) status
  • The disadvantages too!
  • What it takes to make the IRS happy
  • What your state requires
  • Why your organization should consider becoming a nonprofit corporation
  • What is the difference between nonprofit incorporation and tax exemption
  • IRS requirements after you are tax exempt

Order here.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Summer reading to be a better homeschool leader: The IRS and Your Homeschool organization

Summer is a great time for homeschool leaders to catch up on some reading. I’m highlighting a book each week of summer and this week I’m spotlighting,

 

I know it’s not a catchy title, but it explains what the book is about. I have no expectations of this book ever being a best seller (!), but I wrote it to be helpful to the hundreds of homeschool organizations that need to understand tax exempt status.
This book began in 2008 under the title of  Tax Exempt 501c3 Status for Homeschool Organizations with a cover as boring as the title. It was an ebook with only 51 pages.
TEx501c3Cover
In 2011, I expanded the book to 124 pages and changed the title to The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization with the subtitle Tax Exempt 501c3 Status for Homeschool Organizations. And I improved the cover.

IRS and Your Homeschool Org cover

After the IRS simplified the process to apply for 501(c)(3) status in 2014, I updated the book. The second edition includes a chapter on getting tax exempt status reinstated if it is revoked. I also added an index to make finding specific topics easier.

 

Who should read this book?
  • Anyone running a homeschool organization that’s been around a long time but has never filed anything with the IRS.
  • Anyone who mistakenly thinks they don’t have to do any annual reports to the IRS.
  • Anyone who fears their previous leaders did not do things properly.
  • Anyone starting a new homeschool organization and wants to be sure they are set up properly.
 Carol Topp, CPA

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How to file the IRS Form 990-N video

 

 

Steve from Nonprofit Ally created a short (6 minute) video) of how to file your Form 990-N Annual Information Return for tax exempt organizations. What the IRS calls the ePostcard.

 

It’s nice of Steve to create this video so you know what information you need and what the IRS will ask.

My pet peeve: Steve calls it “filing your nonprofit taxes.” The Form 990-N is not a tax form. The Form 990 is called an information return because tax exempt nonprofits don’t file tax returns.* They are exempt from taxes.

Actually the IRS calls the 990-N a Notice because all you’re really doing is notifying the IRS that your small tax exempt organization still exists.

But that’s just me being a picky, precise CPA.

Carol Topp, CPA

*Some tax exempt organizations with unrelated business income may pay taxes on their unrelated income.

Tax deductible donations without IRS determination letter

We have an EIN and file 990-N annually but fall under the classification of a group self declares our tax exempt status because we make less than $5,000 a year. We have not gone through the formal 501(c)(3) application process with the IRS. I was talking with IRS today and I believe I understood them to say we cannot give a form to a donor stating their contribution is tax deductible.

If that is the case how can we assure potential donors we are tax deductible and doesn’t a donor need documentation for when they file their taxes?

Mark

 

Mark,

One of the major drawbacks for small 501(c)(3) organizations who chose to “self-declare” their tax exempt status is that they lack the official IRS determination letter proving that donations are tax deductible (See the photo above for an example of the IRS determination letter).

This important letter can give donors assurance that their donations are indeed tax deductible.

Technically, your organization can still receive tax deductible donations, but your organization lacks “proof” to show a donor.

A donor must keep a record if the donation is more than $250. This record is usually a letter from the charity, but a bank record (a cancelled check) may suffice. This record is only given to the IRS if the donor is being audited by the IRS.

Your homeschool group may be listed in the IRS database of Exempt Organizations since you have been filing your  Form 990-Ns every year. Visit IRS Select Check and see if your can find your organization listed as “Has filed Form 990-N” or “Are eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.” If you are in the IRS database you can be assured that you can accept tax deductible contributions.

The best way to assure potential donors would be to file the Form 1023-EZ (fee $275 to the IRS and takes about 3-4 weeks). Then you get the official IRS determination letter.

I can assist you in filing the Form 1023-EZ. While it is a much simpler form than the full Form 1023, it can be confusing and you will want to be sure it is filed correctly.

Email me if you’d like my help.
Carol Topp, CPA

Q&A: Adding another program under your homeschool group’s umbrella

Super Bowl LII is over. Did your team win? Perhaps your homeschool group is considering adding football team.

Tricia, a treasurer if a homeschool program in Texas asked questions here and here about adding a football program. The homeschool group has 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.

She had several questions about tax exempt status and financial oversight.

  1.  What steps with the IRS do we need to follow to bring them under our homeschool group’s tax exempt umbrella?
  2. What forms would we need to file?
  3. Would they share our tax ID number or would they need their own?  What are concerns should we consider in doing this?
  4. The benefits to our members are obvious, but we don’t want to overlook concerns if there are any.  They would handle their own bank account, but how much would we need to manage?

 

Tricia,

I read your 501(c)(3) tax exempt application given to the IRS and see that sports teams was part of your mission. That’s good, because you do not have to approach the IRS and ask for permission to add the football program; it was included in your original tax exempt application.

Here are my answers to your questions:

1. When you file your 990 or 990-EZ Annual Information Return with the IRS, you simply list the football program as one of your programs. If your gross revenues are under $50,000 per year, you’ll file the simple Form 990-N and no explanation is required.

2. There are no additional forms to file beyond the annual Form 990/990-EZ or 990-N. That’s because sports teams was part of your mission in your original tax exempt application.

3. Use your main group’s EIN (tax ID number). The football program is just another activity run by the main group, so you should expect the typical concerns such as: Are they following policies, being careful, keeping good financial records and practices, etc? My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization can help in this area.

4. Your main organization should have oversight of the football program’s bank balances. This includes allowing you, as the main group’s treasurer, access to their bank account online and require they give you a monthly bank reconciliation report and monthly reports of the income and expenses.

This may be a lot of extra work for you as a volunteer treasurer, so you may need to hire a bookkeeper or recruit more help from volunteers.

Tricia asked her questions by email. I can do that  for your homeschool program, but it is very time consuming to read and reply to emails. I charge a reduced rate of $50/hour to read and reply to emails. Or perhaps a phone call would be better. Contact me to arrange a private phone consultation.

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Sponsoring a football program under your homeschool group

 
 Super Bowl LII is a few days away! Even though the Green Bay Packers will not be playing (I’m a Packer fan) football is on my mind! Perhaps your homeschool group is considering adding football team. Read on!
I wrote to you about starting a football league and wanting to have a “fiscal sponsorship.”  We postponed the sponsorship last year, but are now wanting to move forward with it.  This has given us new things to consider and I am really out of my league.
  • We are wanting the football program to have a separate bank account from the main checking account, but of course have all the books open and reports/statements submitted to us.  Kind of they way some Boy Scout Troops work with their charter. Will this be a problem?
  •  Will we be able to purchase equipment and supplies for the team using our 501c3 sales tax exemption?
  •  Will businesses be able to make donations specifically earmarked for the football program and then be able to receive a tax deductible letter from us, the main organization?
  • We are planning on purchasing insurance covering the players and cheerleaders. Would the main group need to be on that policy also?
  •  If the football program ever desired to become independent from the main group, would it be able to retain the assets i.e., playing equipment?
I am very overwhelmed at the responsibility involved as a volunteer treasurer. Other board members seem to think I’m overthinking all of this, and that it is no different than a boy scout group and it’s no big deal to get set up–just file some forms and use our tax id to open a bank account for the football program.  I don’t see it as that simple.
Thank you, Tricia
Trisha,
The football program does not have to be a separate legal identity. It can be one of the programs you operate as the main group. Here’s my  reply to your questions.
  • A separate bank account is fine. It will use the main group’s EIN and belong to the parent even though the football program leaders may be signers on the checks.
  • The football program can use the main group’s 501c3 tax status to purchase equipment (sales tax free).
  • Donors can make donations to the football program, but checks should be made out to the main group. You are then obligated to set aside these donations as “restricted funds” only to be used for the football program.
  • Your homeschool group needs to be the owner of the insurance policy because the football program has no separate legal status to buy insurance.
  • All assets belong to the main group, not the football program. If your homeschool group wishes to make a gift to the football program when they split off, it can or you can sell the assets to the football program at a reduced price. I recommend you put something in writing in your fiscal sponsorship agreement about who owns the assets, but leave it up to the board to decide when the time comes whether to sell or gift the equipment to the football program.

I agree with the board; you might be over-thinking this. While it’s good to do your due diligence, it should be pretty easy to add the football program to your homeschool group’s activities.

I do recommend you write up an fiscal sponsorship agreement. Here’s a website with a few examples. I also attached an example I found at Mr Colvin’s law firm website, http://www.adlercolvin.com/index.php You can simplify the language if you wish.

I hope this allows you to sleep better tonight! 🙂

Carol Topp, CPA

Followup: Tricia had additional questions concerning sharing the tax exempt status of her organization and the finances of this new program. Read more here.

Adding a football program to a homeschool organization

Super Bowl LII is a little over a week away! While my beloved Green Bay Packers will not be playing 🙁 football is on my mind! Perhaps your homeschool group would like to add a football or other sports program. Read on!
We are a homeschool organization with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status and have been approached by a new member to start a football program. He is interested in starting a football league for our members. He discovered we are a 501c3 organization and our status could help him.

 

I am a little hesitant in sharing our status with a program that is yet to be established.  However, we like the idea of our boys having the option to play football.  He wants to start practices NEXT week and wants to use our checking account for depositing the funds paid by parents.

 

On top of all the other responsibilities of budgeting the events we provide, I’m at a loss as where to begin in this new endeavor or if we should?  Would he need a board of directors?  By-laws of his own?  Would we umbrella this league?  I don’t know where to start or how to advise him.

 

I’m not sure I can take on more responsibilities, especially one this large.  Can you offer advice or point me in the right direction as how to proceed?  I am thinking perhaps he should be independent for a year to “prove himself” before we allow him under our 501c3 status?
Trisha

Tricia,

Wow, nothing like pressure to make a decision!

What the football coach is proposing is called a fiscal sponsorship, i.e. using your 501(c)(3) tax exempt status as an umbrella he can fit under. Usually the sub organization pays a fee 1%-10% of their revenue to the parent organization.

There are pros and cons to a fiscal sponsorship arrangement. It can be temporary, just a year or two until the football program is spun off to be independent.

I recommend a book called Fiscal Sponsorship: 6 Ways to Do It Right by Greg Colvin. http://fiscalsponsorship.com/ the book and the website will help a lot.

You definitely want the fiscal sponsorship agreement written up and signed by both parties so that everything is clear.

You could set up the football program as one of your activities. This increases the risk to your group (football is a risky venture because of potential injuries). Make sure your insurance allows a football program; it may not.

Or you can require his organization have a separate board, bylaws, insurance, etc.  Ask to see the list of board members, minutes of meetings, bylaws and most importantly the insurance policy.

Don’t be pressured into making a decision just because he wants to start the program now. Poor planning on his part does not constitute an emergency (or quick decision) on your part.

 

Tricia asked her questions by email. I can do that  for your homeschool program, but it is very time consuming to read and reply to emails. I charge a reduced rate of $50/hour to read and reply to emails. Or perhaps a phone call would be better. Contact me to arrange a private phone consultation.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Follow up: Tricia’s homeschool organization postponed the sponsorship for a year and in the following year started a six-man football team and it was very successful.  They even added cheerleaders!

Read additional questions and answers Tricia had about operating a large program under her homeschool group’s tax exempt umbrella.