New website for filing IRS Annual ePostcard Form 990-N

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is changing the website to file the Form 990-N. The Form 990-N used to be hosted by the Urban Institute, but starting February 29, 2016, the IRS will host the Form 990-N submission website.

The new website is www.IRS.gov/990N

The Form 990-N is a short,  annual filing that small (those normally with annual gross receipts up to $50,000) tax-exempt organizations file in place of the lengthier Form 990-EZ or Form 990. In order to file the Form 990-N, all nonprofits will be required to complete a one-time registration and file Form 990-N submissions through the IRS’s website at www.IRS.gov/990N.

Who must file
Most small tax-exempt organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less can satisfy their annual reporting requirement by electronically submitting Form 990-N if they choose not to file Form 990 or Form 990-EZ instead.

Exceptions to this requirement include:

Form 990-N is easy to complete. You’ll need only eight items of basic information about your organization.

Homeschool leader collecting donations without tax exempt status.

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Our homeschool group leader just opened a Paypal account and has begun asking for donations. This seems a little weird and as though we need to be a nonprofit if money is collected from members. I referred her to your website, but she believes we have nothing to worry about. Is this true? Should we be a nonprofit if money is involved? How can I help her understand the ramifications of not using your resources?
Randi

Randi,

Thank you for contacting me.

Oh dear, your leader thinks she has nothing to worry about! It’s just not that way anymore!

Whenever an organization collects money from either member dues or donations, the leaders have a fiduciary responsibility for managing that money properly. If they do not manage the money properly or get organized properly with the IRS, the leaders can be held personally liable for any mistakes.

This blog posts explains the fiduciary responsibility of leaders: http://homeschoolcpa.com/what-are-the-legal-responsibilities-of-homeschool-leaders/

An organization cannot accept tax deductible donations unless they have 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS. Most homeschool groups collect membership dues, but those are not “donations” and they should not be called donations.

How can you help your leader be more responsible? Explain that if your group is not properly organized then the money she is accepting will be seen as her taxable income by the IRS and she will have to pay taxes on it!

To get properly organized start by reading a few of my blog posts and articles.

This quick video may help as well: https://youtu.be/FLvfw23z7M0

Good Luck!

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Giving receipts for donations to a homeschool group

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Do we need to offer a written letter or some sort of receipt for donations to our organization?
If we are hosting a parent event and door prizes have been donated, how is that handled?
Do we need for the donor to give us a receipt or some sort of written statement stating the value of an item that has been donated?
Is there a particular format or template for receipts given to donors?
Thanks so much!
Darlene
Darlene,

Yes, you should give a receipt for donations. The IRS Publication 4221-PC p. 26 explains it all. Be sure to include a note about “No goods or services were given in exchange for this donation.”The value of donated goods is determined by the donor, not your organization as the charity. You can give a thank you letter to the donor and fill in a description of the item donated, but not its value.

Sort of like Goodwill does when you drop off stuff. They have a stack of cards at the drop off counter. Goodwill fills in the date, but the value of the donation is filled in by the donor.
No, there are no official donation receipt forms.
Just follow the example of Goodwill or your church.
Carol Topp, CPA

Converting from a homeschool support group to a full service nonprofit organizaton

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Lots of homeschool support groups find themselves evolving into bigger organizations than their founders imagined. They grew from being small monthly support groups to larger organizations offering field trips, co-op classes, graduation ceremonies, clubs, and other activities.

For example, TACHE (Tyler Area Home Educators) in Tyler, Texas began in the 1980s as a small support group for homeschool families. They grew to over 400 families and now manage an annual budget of nearly $20,000 and offer a plethora of educational activities.

They wisely decided to incorporate as a nonprofit corporation in 2009. But, unfortunately, TACHE did not apply for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status at that time.

In September 2013 TACHE  decided it was time to apply for tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) educational organization and contacted me. Because TACHE waited more than 27 months after their date of formation (in 2009) to apply for 501(c)(3) status, we had to explain TACHE’s history to IRS and give an explanation why they did not apply earlier.

I helped TACHE apply for 501(c)(3) status in February 2014 and after about 7 months of waiting, the IRS granted 501(c)(3) status.

But TACHE wasn’t finished with the IRS just yet. TACHE failed to file their Form 990-N Annual Information Return with the IRS for three consecutive years and had their tax exempt status automatically revoked. We were concerned that there would be a period of time when TACHE would have to file and pay income tax. There were a few phone calls and letters to the IRS, but finally the IRS reinstated TACHE’s tax exempt status and agreed that they did not owe any back taxes.

The process is does not always take that long, but here are a few lessons learned.

  • Don’t delay! Apply for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status within 27 months (or sooner) from your date of formation (usually the date of incorporation in your state as a nonprofit corporation)
  • File the Form 990-N every year. This is required for support groups as well as homeschool co-ops. If you fail to file the Form 990-N, the IRS will automatically revoke your tax exempt status.
  • Get help when you need it. My fees are reasonable and I focus on helping homeschool organizations.  Contact me.
  • Be patient. Although the IRS has cleared a lot of their backlog, it still took 11 months for the IRS to reinstate TACHE’s tax exempt status.
  • Learn all you can about tax exempt status for your homeschool group. My book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization, is a good start.

Congratulations to TACHE! It was along process, but it’s finished and TACHE can continue to serve homeschool families in Texas for many years to come.

Carol Topp, CPA


I will be recuperating from surgery and will be unavailable to answer your emails from November 15, 2015 until January 2016. Until then, here’s how you can get help.


Fiscal sponsorship: What is it and how can it work for your homeschool group?

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“Fiscal sponsorship generally entails a nonprofit organization (the “fiscal sponsor”) agreeing to provide administrative services and oversight to, and assume some or all of the legal and financial responsibility for, the activities of groups or individuals engaged in work that relates to the fiscal sponsor’s mission.”(Source: http://www.fiscalsponsors.org/pages/about-fiscal-sponsorship)

Fiscal sponsorship is an agreement for one nonprofit (the sponsor) to  to help another nonprofit (the project), usually in a temporary agreement. It means the sponsor lets the project come under their umbrella for an event, project or activity.

I think it’s a great idea and something your homeschool group should consider.

If you’re a large homeschool group with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status already granted, consider helping a small start up homeschool group in your local area. Agree to let them come under your tax exempt status umbrella for a set time period. This is an excellent arrangement to help a Lego team, a temporary event, a sports team or a new start up co-op.

If you’re a small homeschool group, just getting started, ask a larger, established homeschool group if you could work out a temporary arrangement to use their tax exempt status while you get up and running. Work out the details in a written agreement. Perhaps you can offer to pay the parent organization a small amount in return for being allowed under their umbrella.

Learn more about fiscal sponsorship:

http://fiscalsponsorship.com/

http://www.fiscalsponsors.org/pages/about-fiscal-sponsorship

Fiscal Sponsorship: 6 Ways to Do It Right by Gregory Colvin describes six models of sponsorship that have been approved and accepted by the IRS. It details how the models work and why, how they differ and how they are similar.

Summary of the book and its six models of fiscal sponsorship by the author: http://www.fiscalsponsorship.com/images/WCTEO_Gregory-Colvin.pdf

After reading up on fiscal sponsorship, you might have a few questions. I’d be happy to set up a phone consultation. Contact me.

Carol Topp, CPA

Congratulations to homeschool groups on tax exempt status!

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Congratulations to several homeschool organizations recently granted 501(c)(3) tax exempt status by the IRS!

  • LifeShine from San Antonio, TX
  • Grace Home Educators of Martinsville, IN
  • United Christian Homeschool Association in Belton, KY
  • SCOPE Homeschool Group in Ashville, AL

Both Lifeshine and Grace had their tax exempt status automatically revoked for failure to file the IRS Form 990 for 3 consecutive years. Fortunately, I was able to help them get their tax exempt status reinstated and neither group owed any back taxes. Yeah!

Do you know about the IRS required annual reporting for ALL nonprofit organizations (that means your homeschool group, even if you never had to file any reports with the IRS before)?

Do you have questions about the tax exempt status of your organization?

Contact me and I will help your homeschool organization get tax exempt status (or get it back if it was revoked).

It’s better than paying taxes!

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Can a Classical Conversations community be a tax exempt nonprofit?

 

I am directing a local Classical Conversations group, and many churches in our area will not consider housing us because we are not a nonprofit. Since I am basically an independent contractor licensed by CC corporate to run a community in my area, am I potentially eligible to have my community declared a nonprofit?

-Jen, Classical Conversations Director

 

Jen,

I recently discussed nonprofit status for CC Communities with Classical Conversations COO, Keith Denton.  He explained to me that “CC Directors (who are licensees of CC) may form an entity through which to run their homeschooling operations.

“CC does not require a director to run his/her homeschooling program through an entity, nor does it require that such director choose a specific type of entity (non-profit versus for profit) for its homeschooling community.

“CC recommends that all directors consult with an accountant and lawyer when making the decision of whether to form an entity, and what type.  The decision of which entity to form depends on a variety of factors specific to the director and state where the homeschooling community is formed.  As such, consultation with an attorney and accountant in a director’s community is highly recommended to best address all relevant factors. ”

I have helped several classical homeschool program apply for 501c3 tax exempt status, but not a community under a licensed director.

I can help you weigh the pros and cons of for profit or nonprofit status for your CC Community. Contact me to schedule a phone consultation.


 

Have you considered wanting to start a homeschool program? An academic program, but not a co-op and not a for-profit business, either. But a nonprofit organization with an academic emphasis–maybe with a classical education focus.

Sounds like a great idea! But where to begin?

Carol Topp, CPA, the Homeschool CPA and Jamie Buckland are teaming up to to bring you:

ABC’s of an Academic Homeschool Program

An hour-long webinar on Monday February 18, 2019 at 8 pm ET

The webinar will be recorded for later viewing.

Get details and register here.


Carol Topp, CPA

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How to know your status with the IRS

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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.

How the IRS sees homeschool co-ops (podcast)

IRS and homeschool groups

In this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show podcast, host Carol Topp continues her topic “Who’s Afraid of the IRS?” and discusses how the IRS sees homeschool co-ops and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

Listen to the podcast

Listen to the first part of this presentation where Carol discussed homeschool support groups and IRS 501(c)(7) tax exempt status as a Social Club.

Get a copy of the handout.

Carol also mentioned the article “Do You Know About IRS Required Filings for Homeschool Organizations?” Get it here.

The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization

Carol’s book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization, is available here.

 

Homeschool group answers IRS questions

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Many homeschool organizations are finding that the new IRS Form 1023-EZ makes applying for 501(c)(3) tax status quite easy (compared to the full  26-page Form 1023!)

But, unfortunately, one homeschool group, Crossroads Co-op from Maryland, found their application held up because the IRS wanted more information. Specifically, the IRS asked for:

  1. An original copy of their organizing document. Fortunately Crossroads had Articles of Association complete with the IRS required language all ready to go!
  2. A detailed description of their activities including who, where, when, fees, and time and resources
  3. Actual revenues and expenses for 3 years.

I helped Crossroads write a reply to the IRS and in only 5 days, their 501(c)(3) status was granted!

We don’t think that the IRS was targeting Crossroads Co-op or homeschool groups; we think Crossroads was just randomly selected by the IRS to provide details.

The important lesson learned is that nonprofit organizations need to have their financial information and organizing documents ready to send into the IRS when asked.

Applying for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status is more than just filling out the Form 1023-EZ online. It involves properly structuring your nonprofit.

Crossroads had done that, so they were able to answer all the IRS questions and get their tax exempt determination letter in a timely manner.

If you need help applying for tax exempt status for your nonprofit organization, contact me.

 

Carol Topp, CPA