Homeschool support group has problems with bank and IRS

Carol – I just got off with the IRS and I am EXTREMELY irritated and frustrated!!!!! Our homeschool group is a 501c7 social club; we have adopted by-laws. To open up a bank account, the bank wants documentation from the IRS giving proof that we are recognized as a nonprofit organization.

I spoke with two different people at the IRS and the last one was in the tax exempt dept. He and I did not communicate well. He said we had no paperwork in and that I needed documentation for our group. I explained that I had by-laws but he wanted to know if they were signed. I asked if that meant with a signature and he just kept saying the same thing without answering my question.  We kept going round and round with him asking me the same question. Just frustrating!!!

So what do we need to do to be able to get our checking account opened?

Joy

 

Joy,
I’m sorry you had such difficulty with that IRS employee.

The IRS Exempt Organization has lost many of its experienced employees to retirement and to other parts of the IRS managing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). And what we’re left with is robots like you talked to. They simply read from a script. I’ve heard several complaints.

Forget the IRS. Go back to the bank. Explain to them that you do not have IRS proof because you are a self-declared tax exempt 501c7 Social club. Bring your bylaws, a list of board members, and your EIN letter form the IRS. Common law states that a nonprofit is formed when you have a board and bylaws.

Proof from the IRS is not needed to establish a nonprofit checking account because the IRS grants tax-exempt status, not nonprofit status. There IS a difference.

Read this article: How to become a recognized Nonprofit

You may need to educate the bank teller. They are frequently misinformed.

Hand them this blog post: http://homeschoolcpa.com/banker-wants-irs-letter-t…

Tell him that 501c7 social clubs can self-declare tax exempt status and do not need a letter from the IRS to prove tax exempt (or nonprofit) status.

Read more about self declaring tax exempt status: Homeschool Groups as Social Clubs

Act informed and confident. You are eligible to open a nonprofit checking account and do not need “proof” from the IRS of self-declared tax exempt status.

Good luck!!

Carol Topp, CPA
Helping homeschool leaders

 

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Tax Exempt Q&A with Homeschool Leaders

 

Have questions about tax exempt status for your homeschool group?

This short podcast episode (16 minutes) from Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA,  is an excerpt from the Indiana Homeschool Leaders Retreat. Carol Topp discusses tax exempt status and answers questions from homeschool leaders about self-declaring tax exempt status for your homeschool support group.

 

 

In the podcast I mentioned my book

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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Don’t tell the IRS your homeschool group is a private foundation (if it’s not).

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Oh this is a sad, sad story.

I’ve seen this twice recently: a homeschool group prepares their own 501(c)(3) application (Form 1023 or 1023-EZ) with the IRS and incorrectly tells the IRS they are a private foundation.

Homeschool co-ops or other nonprofit educational programs are not private foundations. Private foundations are charitable organizations that are funded by an individual, family, or corporation, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Homeschool organizations are public charities, serving the public good (the education of children). Both of these homeschool organizations didn’t think of themselves as charities. They misunderstood that the IRS uses the word charity to include educational organizations. They also didn’t think of themselves as “public,” because they didn’t not understand the IRS use of that word.

The IRS means serving a public good and being supported financially by the “public” (meaning lots of people) but that does not mean you have to open your doors to the general public! You may still have an application process and limit your membership or participation to your programs.

I spend a lot of time with my nonprofit clients explaining the IRS terms and proper classification, but neither of these organizations hired me to prepare their Form 1023/1023-EZ. Neither of them even asked for a phone consultation or for me to look over the application before sending it to the IRS.

Now they have a real mess on their hands.

They have to file an IRS form to change their status. This requires providing financial statements, explanations, and supporting documents and IRS fees.  Meanwhile, they have to be filing a Form 990-PF, which is quite complex. You need an experienced CPA to prepare a 990-PF.

This is going to be expensive and time consuming. It will probably cost hundreds of dollars in IRS and CPA fees to get it straightened out.

Sad, sad, sad…

Carol Topp, CPA

Helping homeschool leaders with tax and legal compliance

 

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How does the IRS see my homeschool support group?

Your homeschool support group is probably a social club in the eyes of the IRS. Listen to this short podcast as Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA explains that social clubs can get automatic tax exempt status without applying, but they must maintain that tax-free status.

Listen to the podcast (14 minutes)

Here’s a link to the blog post Carol mentioned in the podcast: How to get into the IRS exempt database:

How to get added to the IRS database and file the Form 990N

FEATURED PRODUCT from HomeschoolCPA:

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!

 

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Self-declared tax exempt status for 501c3 homeschool groups

We are just starting up our group and we do not want to do anything illegal, but we would not qualify as a nonprofit right now, so as per your IRS book, we would be labeled an Unincorporated Association. My question is… Do we need to do anything legally to continue as a group. We do plan to open a checking account and have an EIN number.
I just felt that for a group that is just starting and is not a nonprofit or at the 501 (c) (3) status yet, we don’t know the first steps to get a group of and running and if we need to do anything legally to start. Thank you so much for your time!
-EC

 

Dear EC,

Please watch this video 3 times (yes, 3 times!):

 

You will hear that to legally and correctly set up a nonprofit you need 3 things:

  1. A mission that is not motivated by profit
  2. A board
  3. Organizing documents. Usually bylaws but Articles of Association are also recommended. Get samples here

If you have those three things, your organization is a nonprofit. Congratulations! It may not be a nonprofit corporation; instead it is an unincorporated association, as you mentioned, but it is still a nonprofit.

But, there is a difference between nonprofit status and tax exempt status

Nonprofit status is granted by your state while tax exempt status is granted by the IRS to qualifying nonprofit organizations. Typically nonprofits need to formally apply for tax exempt status with the IRS.

But small nonprofits can self declare  501(c)(3) tax exempt status if your annual gross revenues* are $5,000 or less.

*Annual gross revenues are all the money you take in in a year, even if it just goes right back out. It’s not what is left over at the end of the year. It is not the amount in your checkbook. It is annual (yearly) gross (all) revenues (intake).

This video may be helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCFjnnY7mEw

 

How to self declare 501c3 tax exempt status

Since you have not officially applied on paper for 501(c)(3) status  (you self-declared 501(c)(3) status and don’t have to file the paperwork), your nonprofit organization is not in the IRS database (yet), so you need to call the IRS Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500 and be added to their database so you can begin filing the Form 990-Ns.

It typically takes 6 weeks after you call to be added to the IRS database.

Say something like this,

“We’re a brand new 501(c)(3) educational organization and I needed to get added to the IRS exempt organization database so we can start filing our 990-Ns.”


**Note that only 501(c)(3) organizations with less than $5,000 annual gross revenues can “self-declare” their tax exempt status. Organizations with more than $5,000/year in revenues must apply for 501(c)(3) status using Form 1023 or the new, shorter Form 1023-EZ.


The IRS employee will ask for your EIN and organization’s name, address, and probably a contact name.

They may also ask what date your fiscal year ends. Many homeschool 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 to see what you chose as your fiscal year end.

They may ask if you have “organizing documents.” They mean bylaws or Articles of Association. So create bylaws or Articles of Association/Articles of Incorporation before you call the IRS. Get the board to approve and sign them. Sample bylaws and Articles of Association can be found here.

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.

 

How to keep your 501(c)(3) tax exempt status

Be sure you go online (IRS.gov/990n) 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. If you operate on a calendar year, the 990-N is due May 15.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Helping homeschool leaders with legal and tax compliance

 

IRS tries to decrease errors in automatic revocations for tax exempt organizations

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Every year the exempt organization (EO) branch of the IRS send out a Work Plan for the upcoming year and reviews what it accomplished in the past year.

IRS Exempt Organization 2017 Work Plan (24 pages)

Here’s something interesting I found:

In FY 2016, EO Determinations focused on its objectives to improve processing of applications and enhance customer satisfaction. We implemented several programs to accomplish these goals.
Erroneous Revocation Prevention: On May 3, 2016, EO Rulings and Agreements formalized procedures to identify and prevent erroneous automatic revocation before the organizations are notified and before the revocations are posted to EO Select Check. Preventing these erroneous revocations eliminates adverse impact to organizations and removes the burden from organizations to identify and notify the IRS of the error. Since March 2015, we have reviewed 13,933 potential auto-revocations and prevented 3,202 erroneous revocations (through June 2016).

In plain English, thousands of nonprofits found their tax exempt status was revoked automatically before the organizations were told (!) and before the revocations were posted to EO Select Check (that’s the IRS online database of tax exempt organizations).

Over 3,000 revocations that were an error! What a mess!

The IRS didn’t get specific about why these organizations had their tax exemption revoked or how they fixed the problem, but I have some ideas:

1. It takes 6-8 weeks (yes, that’s WEEKS, not DAYS) for the IRS to update their exempt organization database so that small organizations can file their annual Form 990-N Information Return. If the organization is granted tax exempt status close to their due date for filing the 990-N, they may be unable to timely file a 990-N because the  IRS takes 6-8 weeks  to update their exempt organization database!

This happened to one of my small nonprofit clients. They had failed to file their 990-N for two years (they didn’t know about the requirement) and the deadline for the third year was quickly approaching. Failure to file your 990/990-EZ/990-N for three consecutive years means automatic revocation of tax exempt status. We were sweating bullets that they could file the 990-N on time. The board president was checking the IRS database daily as the deadline drew nearer. She managed to file the 990-N just days before the deadline! Whew!

If the IRS database of Exempt Organizations were updated in a more timely manner, then there could be fewer erroneous automatic revocations.

 

2. Another small nonprofit told me that they received an automatic revocation letter, but had never received a “You’re late in filing the Form 990-N” type of letter or a warning! This nonprofit had not changed their address, either.

So another thing the IRS could do to reduce erroneous automatic revocation is to mail organizations a reminder and a warning letter for failure to file a 990/990-EZ or 990-N.

I hope my suggestions are what the IRS has put in place.

Carol Topp, CPA

 

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How can I thank my volunteers?

 

It’s the end of your homeschool organization’s school year and you want to thank your volunteers. They work so hard, so you hand out generous gift cards as thank you gifts. You may have just created a tax liability for your volunteers! Carol Topp, CPA, the Homeschool CPA discusses ways to thank your volunteers that are tax-free.

Listen to the podcast

 

Do you have more questions about volunteers and paying workers? I spent at lot of time doing research so that homeschool leaders will know if they are paying their volunteers, board members, and workers legally and correctly. It’s all in this new book:

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Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization-2nd edition

$9.95 paperback
130 pages
Copyright 2017
ISBN 978-0-9909579-3-5

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Is there a penalty for misclassifying my homeschool group’s workers?

Is there a penalty for misclassifying my homeschool group’s workers?

The IRS imposes strict penalties on an employer who treats workers as Independent Contractors when they should be employees. These penalties have put homeschool businesses and nonprofits out of business. Carol Topp, CPA discusses this topic and some programs the IRS has to avoid crippling penalties.

Listen to the podcast 

Worker Classification Consultation

  • Is your homeschool teacher an employee or independent contractor?
  • Should your homeschool co-op director be paid as an employee?
  • How hard is it to set up a payroll system?
  • What happens if my homeschool group misclassifies a worker? Are their penalties?

Worker classification can be a confusing topic.

My book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help clear a lot of confusion, but perhaps you want to discuss your particular situation in a private, individual phone consultation.

I offer phone consultations to help you determine if your homeschool organization’s workers are employee or independent contractors. The phone call will be followed up with an email containing a fact-based determination and information to help you take the next steps.

Click Here to request more information!

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Understanding Taxes for a small homeschool business

It’s tax season and I’ve been getting several emails from homeschool business owners, especially Classical Conversations directors, about how to fill out their tax returns.

The IRS has a terrific website called Understanding Taxes that explains how to fill out a simple business tax return.

It’s quite good. I’ve used their simulations when I taught personal finance at my homeschool co-op

Visit these websites to learn how to fill out your Schedule C Business Income and Loss.

Understanding Taxes home page

Simulation of filing a simple business tax return using Schedule C-EZ

Simulation of filing a simple business tax return with a 1099-MISC (this simulation would be helpful for a Classical Conversation tutor who receives a 1099-MISC).

 

You could also try searching Youtube for helpful videos on preparing a business tax return. Here’s one I found:
How to Fill Out Schedule C for Business Taxes He goes over the Schedule C line by line in about 20 minutes.

 

I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA

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Tax return for a Classical Conversations homeschool business

We are a new Classical Conversations community set up as a single member LLC. We only had 2 students and so my tutor’s income was below the requirement for filing 1099s. Same for me. However, I saw that I shouldn’t be filing a 1099-MISC for myself. What should I be doing?

And what is considered profit for a CC community?

Esther

 

Thank you for emailing me your question about taxes and your Classical Conversations (CC) business.

As a single member LLC, you are a sole proprietorship and you report your income and expenses from your CC business on a Schedule C Profit or Loss from Business as part of your Form 1040.

All your income from the tuition and fees charged to your customers (i.e. parents) goes on line 1 Gross receipts or sales. In this example the total income is $4,500.

Your payment to your teacher(s) goes on Line 11 Contract Labor.  In this example a total of $2,250 was paid to independent contractors. Other expenses go in the categories listed in Part II of the Schedule C. Other expenses made the total expenses sum to $2,982 as shown on Line 28.

The profit is shown on Line 31> It is calculated  from Gross Income (Line 7 on the form) minus Expenses (Line 28). The profit is what you get to keep (and pay taxes on!) as the business owner. In this example the profit is $1,518. This amount will carried forward to the first page of the Form 1040 to Line 12 Business income or loss.

This Youtube video may help: https://youtu.be/qd5etmtyn9s It’s not specific to homeschooling businesses or Classical Conversations, but it goes over the Schedule C line-by-line in about 20 minutes.

P.S. I am no longer taxing new tax clients, so I recommend you find a local CPA to help you in preparing your tax return. To find a local CPA or accountant I recommend you try Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers and Quickbooks Proadvisors. A lot of CPAs and accountants listed on these sites specialize in small businesses.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping homeschool leaders

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