Homeschooling and Happy Birthday USA!

Happy Birthday to the United States of America!

I am very appreciative of the freedom we have in the USA to homeschool our children.

I had my eyes opened recently at the National Conference for Homeschool Leaders sponsored by HSLDA that 90% of the world’s homeschoolers are in the United States.

Take a look at how many places in the world where homeschooling is illegal. It might surprise you:

Germany: Homeschooling is illegal, public or approved private education is mandatory
Greece: Homeschooling is illegal, public education is mandatory without known exceptions.
Liechtenstein: Homeschooling is illegal, public education is mandatory without known exceptions.
Netherlands: Homeschooling is illegal, public education is mandatory without known exceptions.
Sweden: Homeschooling is illegal, public education is mandatory without known exceptions.
Guatemala: Homeschooling is illegal, public education is mandatory without known exceptions.
El Salvador: Homeschooling is illegal, public education is mandatory without known exceptions.
Brazil: Homeschooling is illegal, public education is mandatory without known exceptions.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling_international_status_and_statistics (accessed June 19, 2017)

I’ve very happy to be living in the USA and enjoyed my freedom to homeschool.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

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Trends in accounting can help homeschool leaders

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I recently read an article from CPA Practice Advisor about trends in accounting. The author mentioned 3 trends and  I think all 3 can be beneficial to homeschool leaders.

  • The rise of cloud accounting. No more are the days of emailing spreadsheets back and forth, finding errors and inconsistencies, and being reliant on a desktop accounting system.
  • The focus is on helping small and mid-sized businesses. Accountancy firms have begun to provide advisory services, not just tax and compliance.
  • Advances in technology have increased efficiency. Many solutions available now that simplify and expedite so many processes in accounting firms.

I was pleasantly surprised that I am quite trendy!

  • I encourage my nonprofit clients to consider online accounting programs like Quickbooks Online or WaveApps.com. These programs allow several people (including me) to remotely access the financial data for your group. That’s good for accountability and shared workload!
  • I focus on small nonprofit organizations. And I provide consultations, not just filings IRS forms (although that is very important to do!). This focus helps me be an expert on nonprofits, taxes, and homeschooling-a unique combination!
  • I’m using technology to improve efficiency. Many of you who schedule phone consultations use my online scheduling service, Time Trade. My latest new tool  such as online project management called Quire. These tools help me keep on track as a I handle a larger load of clients each year. They also help the homeschool leaders know what information I need from them and the steps they need to follow in getting (or keeping) tax exempt status.

 


I’m always looking for ways to improve my services to you my clients.

If you’d like to be part of my advisory team and give me your input on my products and services, join the Facebook group or the email list. More details here.


 

Carol Topp, CPA

Workshops on micro business, career exploration and more in Cincinnati 2016

Here are my workshops for the Great Homeschool Convention 2016 in Cincinnati.

MBizIdeas2016 A fun, fast-paced workshop to inspire and equip teenagers to start their own business.

CareerExpl2016 Help for teenagers who have no idea of what they want to be!

 

Author2016 Dream of holding your book in your hands?

 

I hope I see you there! Don’t forget to stop by my booth #1411 and chat a bit.

 

Carol Topp

 

Great Homeschool Conventions-Cincinnati 2016

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I always look forward to the largest homeschool convention in the US-Great Homeschool Conventions in Cincinnati.

Not only is it my home, but I get to meet hundreds of homeschool parents and students.

 

This year, I’ll be giving three workshops:

30+ Micro Business Ideas for Teens (and Parents!) Friday, April 1, 2016 at 10:00 pm

Career Exploration for High School Students Friday, April 1, 2016 at 5:30 pm

How You (or Your Child) Can Become a Published Author on Saturday, April 2 at 2:30 pm.

Come by my booth #1411 and introduce yourself!

I hope to see some of you there!

 

Tax breaks for education in some states

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I’m frequently asked about tax deductions for homeschooling expenses. The US federal government does not have any tax deductions or tax credits for K-12 education expenses, but some states do offer tax credits or deductions.

This document has a description of state tax breaks for educational expenses. The document is dated 2011.

http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/educcred.pdf

There is an 2014 update to the document at http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/ss/sseducdc.pdf.

It states:

To date, 14 states in addition to Minnesota provide income tax benefits for education-related expenses.
Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana,Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia all provide tax credits for contributions to nonprofit school tuition organizations that operate like charities; Puerto Rico also allows a similar credit.
Kansas, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island allow their credits only for corporate taxpayers; the Florida credit is allowed against corporate, insurance premiums, severance, alcoholic beverage taxes, and sales taxes for certain taxpayers; and Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana,Iowa, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia allow credits for both individual and corporate taxpayers.

Arizona also allows credits for individuals who pay extracurricular public school fees and who contribute to character education programs at public schools, and Pennsylvania also allows a corporate credit for contributions to innovative public school programs.

Louisiana allows individuals to claim a tax deduction for qualified education expenses.
Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin provide individuals with nonrefundable tax credits for qualified education expenses, and Alabama allows a refundable credit for tuition expenses of students leaving state-designated low-performance schools. Iowa’s credit applies to tuition for children attending accredited not-for-profit K-12 schools, and Louisiana’s deduction applies to public, private, and homeschool expenses.

Courts in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and New Hampshire have upheld the permissibility of these education credits.

Did you find your state listed? Ask your tax professional if your homeschool expenses qualify for a tax credit or deduction on your state income tax return.

And always remember:

Tax deductions and credits just reduce the tax you pay.

Your state government is not putting cash in your hand to purchase books. You must do that first.

Then you pay a little bit less in tax via a tax deduction.

Taxes and your homeschool expenses

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I am pretty new to homeschooling and tax returns. As a matter of fact I have never incorporated my homeschooling into my tax returns since starting homeschool in 2013. What I would be interested in is finding out what are my to-do’s and to-donts when it comes to my household’s tax return and our homeschooling. Please let me know if you can help educate myself and potentially others.

 

Well, your homeschooling expenses are not included on your federal tax return at all, so there is nothing to be concerned about.

Homeschooling expenses are personal expenses, like groceries or clothes, and are not tax deductible on the US federal income tax return.

You cannot deduct your groceries or your clothes on your tax return and you cannot deduct your homeschooling expenses on your federal income tax return.

A few states may allow a tax deduction, a tax credit or an educational saving account. I cover details in this podcast episode:

Any Tax Breaks for Homeschoolers? Dollars and Sense Show podcast Episode 11

Carol Topp, CPA

 

 

Co-ops, Support group? How to define homeschool organizations

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I frequently ask homeschool leaders, “Is your homeschool group a co-op or a support group?”

It’s a basic questions that will influence how I advise them. It should be easy to answer, but more often I hear “Both” or “Well…I’m not sure” or even “We’re sort of a school for homeschoolers.”

The world of homeschooling is changing and it’s getting harder to define our groups.  Support groups morph into co-ops. Co-ops add many support activities. Some co-ops grown into school-like programs.

The Arizona Home Education website has a definition of each type of homeschool group.

Homeschool Support Group Definitions

What do you think of their definitions?

Pretty good, I think.

Here’s my attempt to define each type of homeschool group. It’s incomplete and will probably change over time as creative homeschoolers start new types of groups to meet the needs of future homeschooling families..

Support Group: a gathering of homeschool parents or those interested in homeschooling for information and support. Typically hold monthly meetings for parents and may organize field trips or social events for children and families.

Homeschool Co-op: A gathering of homeschool parents and students who cooperate together in sharing teaching responsibilities for their homeschooled students. Usually meets once a week and frequently all-volunteer.

Homeschool Educational Program: Academic and enrichment classes for homeschooled students. May hire qualified teachers to conduct the program. Usually more expensive than an all volunteer co-op.

Homeschool Sport/Music/Art Program: Similar to a homeschool program , but focuses on sports, music, or art.

Homeschool Club (Lego, Speech/Debate, Yearbook, etc): A club focusing on a specific topic for homeschooled students. Frequently organized under a homeschool support group, but clubs can be stand-alone as well.

Homeschool Business: a for-profit business offering services to homeschooling families. Can be tutors, book sellers, and even my, business HomeschoolCPA offering accounting and tax advice to homeschool organizations.

 How did I do? Leave your comments here or on my Facebook page.

Carol Topp, CPA

Meet Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, in Michigan

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I’m headed to Michigan to speak at the INCH homeschool conference in Lansing May 15-16, 2015.

I’ll be speaking on several topics including

  • micro business for teens
  • career exploration
  • starting a homeschool co-op
  • raising adults
  • record keeping in high school
  • teaching kids about managing money

Can’t make it to any of these conventions? Listen to my podcast, The Dollars and Sense Show.

Recent podcasts include:

  • We’re Not Raising Children, We’re Raising Grown Ups
  • Warnings Against Frugal Homeschooling
  • Has Your Homeschool Group Lost Its Tax Exempt Status

Carol Topp at CHAP in Harrisburg, PA

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I love talking to homeschoolers at conventions, so I was happy to be invited to the Christian Home Educators of Pennsylvania conference in Harrisburg, PA May 8-9, 2015.

(that photo is from when I was in Harrisburg a few years ago)

It’ll be talking about:

  • Career Exploration for high school students
  • 30+ Micro Business Ideas for Teens (and parents!)
  • Top(p) Ten Tips for Running a Homeschool Organization

I’ll also be part of an After High School panel

And as part of the Teen Track, I’ll be showing my video Starting a Micro Business and discussing the video with teenagers in a two-session block. I’ve never done that before, so it should be a lot of fun!

 

If you’re not near Tulsa, maybe we can meet up at these conventions:

 

Can’t make it to any of these conventions? Listen to many of these topics on my podcast, The Dollars and Sense Show.

Recent podcasts include:

  • We’re Not Raising Children, We’re Raising Grown Ups
  • Warnings Against Frugal Homeschooling
  • Has Your Homeschool Group Lost Its Tax Exempt Status

Meet Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA in OK, PA, MI, TX (or your home!)

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Homeschool convention season has arrived!

I met many of you last week at the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati and next week (April 23-25) I’ll be in Tulsa, OK at the Oklahoma Christian Home Educators conference. It’s the first time that I’ve been to Oklahoma, so I get to check another state off of my list!

I’ll be speaking on several topics including micro business for teens, career exploration, leading a homeschool co-op and becoming an author.

If you’re not near Tulsa, maybe we can meet up at these conventions:

 

Can’t make it to any of these conventions? Listen to my podcast, The Dollars and Sense Show.

Recent podcasts include:

  • We’re Not Raising Children, We’re Raising Grown Ups
  • Warnings Against Frugal Homeschooling
  • Has Your Homeschool Group Lost Its Tax Exempt Status

Carol Topp