How to Start a Homeschool Co-op

I was interviewed by Mary Jo Tate of Homeschool Channel TV talking about homeschool co-ops!

We discussed the

  • pros and cons of co-ops,
  • how to evaluate if a co-op is right for your family,
  • how to avoid burn out and
  • how to start your own co-op.

Click to watch video

 

My book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them Run Them and Not Burn Out can be a big help to get you starting creating a homeschool co-op!

Read a sample chapter from Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them Run Them and Not Burn Out
Sample Chapter

Order a copy of Homeschool Co-ops in print or ebook.

 

Should Your Homeschool Group Be An LLC?

 

Have you heard of LLC status? It stands for Limited Liability Company status. Sounds like a good things, right? Doesn’t everyone want to limit their liabilities? Yes, they do! So maybe your homeschool group should be an LLC! Or maybe not!

The reason that most for-profit businesses obtain the LLC status is for limited liability. I organized my own sole proprietorship accounting practice as an LLC because I wanted limited liability and protection of my personal assets.

Becoming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a more complicated issue for nonprofit organizations. Most small nonprofits such as a homeschool co-op do not become LLC’s because the IRS has 12 conditions that must be met for the LLC to be tax exempt. For a nonprofit organization such as a homeschool co-op, nonprofit corporation status in your state brings similar protections of limited liability.

In this short podcast episode (15 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, will share:

  • What does LLC mean?
  • What is limited liability?
  • How nonprofit corporation offers limited liability
  • Becoming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a complicated issue for nonprofits.
  • How the IRS views nonprofit LLCs

In the podcast Carol mentioned …

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

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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Motivation to homeschool is changing. How does your group adapt?

Homeschool is changing! I know that you as a homeschool leader see those changes.

In her 2012 book Home Is Where the School Is, sociologist Jennifer Lois broadly divided homeschoolers into two groups: first-choice and second-choice homeschoolers.

A 2017 Pioneer Institute whitepaper characterized the groups this way: “The ‘first-choice’ family is in essence the traditional homeschooling family, viewing homeschooling as a lifestyle and an integral part of a student’s growth.

‘Second-choice’ homeschooling parents might be described as ‘pragmatic homeschoolers,’ perhaps even ‘reluctant homeschoolers.’ . . . this sub-set tends to view homeschooling as a stop-gap solution to a school-based problem as opposed to an overall family lifestyle.”

As more people start homeschooling for different motivations other than as a lifestyle, raising life-long learners, or faith, how does your group adapt?

Are you accommodating the parents who are just looking for a stop-gap solution?

Here is what some groups are trying:

  • Allowing more drop off students  and less parental involvement
  • Hiring more paid teachers
  • Offering more parent education on how to homeschool
  • Opening their formerly exclusive groups to allow public-school-at-home families to join

Share your ideas in the comments or join the I Am a Homeschool Group Leader group on Facebook and leave a comment.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Helping Homeschool Leaders

Summer reading for homeschool leaders: Paying Workers in a 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,

 

This book began in 2009 as a 20 page ebook. Homeschooling has changed a lot in the past 9 years and homeschool leaders are asking a lot of questions about paying workers. The book grew from 20 to 130 pages!
I expanded it in 2016 and then it needed an update in late 2017!
 

This 130 page book covers paying workers as employees or independent contractors. There are also chapters on paying volunteers and board members. It includes sample forms, tips and advice to help you pay workers in accordance with the IRS laws to help your organization pay their workers correctly. Written specifically for homeschool organizations.

 Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Can You Pay a Volunteer?Chapter 2: Paying Board Members and Other LeadersChapter 3: Employee or Independent Contractor? Worker ClassificationChapter 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 Agreements

Chapter 9: Resources

Who should read this book?
  • Anyone running a homeschool organization that pays workers of any kind.
  • Anyone who wonders is a volunteer be paid?
  • Anyone who has ever asked,”Should a worker be treated as an employee or independent contractor?”
  • Anyone who gives payments or significant discounts to board members or volunteers.
 Carol Topp, CPA

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No Parental Involvement. Is That a Good Thing?

 

A homeschool curriculum touted the benefit of their program to be “No parental involvement needed.” Is that a good feature or not?

In this short podcast episode (15 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, warns homeschool leaders of the trap they can fall into if they don’t include parents in their homeschool program. 

In the podcast Carol mentioned …

Homeschool Co-ops:
How to Start Them, Run Them and not Burn Out


Have you ever thought about starting a homeschool co-op? Are you afraid it will be too much work? Do you think you’ll have to do it all by yourself? Starting a homeschool co-op can be easy! This book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will give you ideas, inspiration, tips, wisdom and the tools you need to start a homeschool co-op, run it and not burn out!

Click Here to request more information!

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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Summer reading for homeschool leaders: Homeschool Co-ops

 

This summer, I’ll be featuring one of my books for homeschool leaders every few weeks.

This week it’s my first book for homeschool leaders,

 

I published this book in 2008 with a different cover. In 2013 I updated it and chose a new cover.

 

HomeschoolCo-opsCover

Original cover

HS Co-ops Cover_400

Updated cover

This book will help homeschool leaders start and run a homeschool co-op.

It has chapters on:

Part One: Starting a Homeschool Co-op
Chapter One: Benefits of Co-ops
Chapter Two: Disadvantages of Co-ops
Chapter Three: Different Types of Co-ops
Chapter Four: Your First Planning Meeting
Chapter Five: What’s in a Name? Names, Missions

Part Two: Running a Homeschool Co-op
Chapter Six: Leadership
Chapter Seven: Co-op Offerings
Chapter Eight: Money Management
Chapter Nine: Managing Volunteers and Conflict
Chapter Ten: Ready for the Next Step? 501c3 Tax Exempt Status

Part Three: Not Burning Out
Chapter Eleven: Avoiding Burn out

Read a sample chapter

Read more about Homeschool Co-ops the book

 

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Accountability: Do you need it?

 

“I’m looking at a homeschool program that meets twice a week because it will hold me accountable,” explained a mother of preschoolers interested in homeschooling. My question to her was, “Do you need accountability?” Maybe not!

In this short podcast episode (13 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, explains her reply to this new mom considering a homeschool program for a very young child.

In the podcast Carol mentioned …

Homeschool Co-ops:
How to Start Them, Run Them and not Burn Out


Have you ever thought about starting a homeschool co-op? Are you afraid it will be too much work? Do you think you’ll have to do it all by yourself? Starting a homeschool co-op can be easy! This book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will give you ideas, inspiration, tips, wisdom and the tools you need to start a homeschool co-op, run it and not burn out!

Click Here to request more information!

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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Good, Fast And Cheap: Can a Homeschool Co-op Be All Three?

 

A homeschool co-op offers drop-off high school classes and wants to remain high quality and low cost. The leader is struggling. I say she can’t offer all three: Cheap, good and fast (or convenient for parents). She’ll have to give up one of those goals to remain viable.

In this short podcast episode (12 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, explains how she advised this homeschool leader.

In the podcast Carol mentioned …

Money Management in a Homeschool Organization
Does your homeschool group manage their money well? Do you have a budget and know where the money is spent? Do you know how to prevent fraud? This 115 page book will help you to open a checking account, establish a budget, prevent mistakes and fraud, use software to keep the books, prepare a financial statement and hire workers. Sample forms and examples of financial statements in clear English are provided.

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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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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Policies for Homeschool Co-ops

 

What types of policies should your homeschool co-op have?

How will having policies help you avoid burning out as you lead your group?

In this short podcast episode (12 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, answers these questions and more from homeschool leaders. This podcast is an excerpt from a workshop titled Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out.

In the podcast Carol mentioned tax exempt status and the IRS required reporting, Form 990-N. Read more here

 

Featured resource

Phone Consultation with Carol Topp, CPA

Phone Consultation: A pre-arranged phone call to discuss your questions. My most popular service for homeschool leaders. It’s like having your own homeschool expert CPA on the phone!

Cost: $75/hour to nonprofit organizations.  $100/hour to for-profit businesses. $60 minimum.

Q &A by Email:  I am willing to answer questions by email, 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. Minimum $25.

Contact HomeschoolCPA, Carol Topp, CPA, to arrange a telephone consultation.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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