What homeschool expenses can I deduct on my taxes?

Here’s a list of homeschool expenses you can deduct on your federal income tax return (Form 1040):

1.

Yes, that’s the list! It’s empty. There are NO homeschool expenses that you can deduct on your individual federal income tax return.

(Sorry for the click bait in the title!)

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, either.

A few states may allow a tax deduction, a tax credit, or an educational saving account. But not your Uncle Sam (the US federal government).

 

Clever ideas to dodge taxes (that won’t work)

Sometimes homeschool families try to get clever and think that they will form a homeschool business and deduct the expenses. The idea is for the dad to hire his wife to teach their children. Then they can deduct school supplies, the mom’s wages as a homeschool teacher, etc.

Sounds pretty clever, huh? Except it doesn’t work anymore than paying mom to cook and feed the family by running an “in-house restaurant” won’t work. That’s because in both these plans (homeschooling as a business and in-house restaurant) there are no customers that are paying for the mom’s services.

Also, the mom has to declare her income to the IRS and she will have to pay taxes on it! That’s why families don’t hire mom to run an in-house restaurant and they shouldn’t hire mom to homeschool the kids either.

So forget the idea of forming your family homeschool as a business.

Homeschools as private school. Any tax breaks?

Some states treat homeschools as private schools, so some families think they can avoid taxes by declaring their private homeschool as a nonprofit organizations and get tax exempt status as a private school. That’s pretty clever too, huh? Only it won’t work.

Briefly, a nonprofit organization exists to serve a group, not an individual. The IRS will not grant “recognized charity” 501(c)(3) tax exempt status to a group that is formed solely to benefit the founder’s family. A tax exempt organization must serve a public good.

The IRS forbids private “inurement” in 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations. Inurement means to be beneficial or advantageous. Inurement occurs when an organization is formed or operates with an incorrect charitable purpose that allows individuals in control to directly and personally benefit from the organization. 501(c)(3) organizations can lose their tax exempt status for practicing inurement.

So forget the idea of your family homeschool becoming a nonprofit organization.

 

In the end, do what the rest of use do, pay your taxes.

Don’t look to Uncle Sam to give you a tax break because you choose to educate your children at home. Instead appreciate the freedom we have an Americans to homeschool.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Paypal sent homeschool leader a 1099-K. Is it taxable income to her?

 

Our homeschool co-op leader set up a Paypal account to collect payments from our parents. She was very surprised when Paypal sent her a 1099-K for $40,000 with her name on it! Does she have to report this on her tax return even though it was for the co-op?

 

Oh dear. It appears that leader used her personal name and Social Security Number when setting up the Paypal account. She also used her name and SSN when setting up a checking account. This is not good!

This group was in the process of forming  as a nonprofit corporation in her state, getting an EIN for the corporation, and then applying for tax exempt status with the IRS. But the parents starting paying before all the paperwork was completed so the leader simply set up a personal Paypal account. It’s easy to set up a Paypal account (I have 3 Paypal accounts myself). But now she has a tax mess on her hands!

She should have filed as a nonprofit corporation, gotten an EIN and then set up the PayPal account in the name of the new nonprofit corporation with their new EIN. Then the 1099-K would have come to the homeschool group, not her personally.

But that’s water under the bridge.

In the eyes of Paypal and the IRS, the leader has started a business, collected money, and now needs to report that on her income tax return. Ugh!

She should file a Schedule C Business Income on her personal Form 1040 and report the Paypal income as Gross Receipts. At this point the leader should contact me or a local CPA for assistance in preparing her tax return. This is not the year for DIY! She does not want an IRS audit!

Additionally, she needs to set up this homeschool organization properly with nonprofit corporation, getting an EIN, and then applying for tax exempt status with the IRS, ASAP! I can help with that.

Download my list of steps to take to set up a nonprofit homeschool organization.

 

Please homeschool leaders, do not set up Paypal accounts, bank accounts or EINs in your personal name. Establish an organization and conduct business in the organization’s name only. Otherwise, you may face a complicated tax issue like this poor leaders.

Carol Topp, CPA

Classical Conversations community rejected by a church

Hi! I am a Classical Conversations Director in Illinois. Our church is asking us to leave as they believe hosting us threatens their tax exempt status. Other churches who have heard this claim do not want to accept us. Any advice? -Kimberly in IL

Kimberly,

I’m very sorry to hear about your problems with finding a church host.

The church is probably worried about their property tax exemption in Illinois since your Classical Conversations (CC) community is a business and not a religious or educational nonprofit.

Property tax exemption is different from federal income tax exemption granted by the IRS. The IRS grants churches automatic status as 501(c)(3) religious organizations. That’s not what is being threatened here.

Property tax exemptions are determined by the state and sometimes the county laws. That’s what has the church worried. If they lose property tax exemption, it will be very expensive for them to pay property tax.

I did a little digging and found some information about church property tax exemption in Illinois. Illinois may deny property tax exemption to the church if an organization using the church’s property has a “view to profit.” Illinois says that having a “view to profit” is incompatible with property tax exemption.

Unfortunately, as currently structured, your CC community has a “view to profit” and the church doesn’t want to offer your group space to meet and risk losing its property tax exemption.

The only advice I have is to ask the church if they would offer space with your CC community if it were a nonprofit organization with a religious and/or educational purpose. Illinois does grant property tax exemption to some educational organizations.

If you wish to re-form as a nonprofit organization, I can help you understand the pros and cons.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

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What Does It Take to be a Nonprofit?

 

It takes two things to be a nonprofit. Do you know what they are?

Which one are homeschool leaders doing well and which do they mess up most often?

HomeschoolCPA, Carol Topp, will explain what it takes to be a nonprofit in this short podcast episode (13 minutes).

In the podcast Carol mentioned that she offers consultations with your homeschool group leadership via phone or conference call.

To schedule a private phone consultation with Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA visit: http://homeschoolcpa.com/services/consultation/

 

 

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The Difference Between Nonprofit and Tax Exempt Status

 

Do you know the difference between nonprofit and tax exempt status?

The difference can be confusing, so HomeschoolCPA, Carol Topp, explains the difference in plain  English and gives a real life example in this podcast episode.

 

 

Featured resource

The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization book.

The information in this book has been helpful to homeschool support groups, co-ops, music and sports groups to understand:

  • The benefits of 501c3 status
  • The disadvantages too!
  • What it takes to make the IRS happy
  • 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 there a difference between a 501c3 and an association?

Carol,
Is there a difference between a 501c3 and an association?
T.W.

T.W.,
501(c)(3) is a tax exempt status granted by the IRS to qualified nonprofit organizations (most of them are nonprofit corporations) whose purposes include charity, religious, and educational (and a few other purposes).

The word “association” does not have a specific legal definition. Associations are a gathering of people for a cause. Associations are typically nonprofit organizations. They can be unincorporated or be formed as nonprofit corporations.

Some associations may qualify for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, some may not. For example I am a member of the Ohio Society of CPAs. It is a business association for CPAs in Ohio. It has tax exempt status as a 501(c)(6) business league, but not 501(c)(3) status.

If you’re confused by the words, nonprofit, association, 501(c)(3), this short video may help clear things up:

 

I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA

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Can our homeschool group get sued if we’re not a recognized nonprofit?

Carol,
We are a Christian homeschool group and co-op. The church that hosts our co-op classes is concerned with the possibility of us getting sued if we are not a recognized non-profit.  We are comprised of like-minded believers for a specific cause.  Can you comment on this?

TW

 

TW,

I usually recommend nonprofit incorporation to protect the leaders and members of a homeschool organization.

Nothing can stop a lawsuit, but forming as a corporation means the liability is limited to the corporation’s assets and it protects the personal assets of the leaders and members from the lawsuit damages.

Unfortunately, being like-minded does not mean you’re immune from lawsuits. One group told me that a co-op member’s health insurance sued the homeschool group for medical bills when a child was injured while at co-op. The co-op member did not bring the lawsuit, her health insurance company did.

If you need more information on the benefits of nonprofit incorporation for your homeschool group, read The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization. It includes a chapter on nonprofit incorporation.

I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA

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Churches and Homeschool Groups

 

Some homeschool groups find it difficult to find a church host. Why is that?

This short podcast episode (16 minutes) from Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, is an excerpt from a homeschool leaders retreat held in Indiana.

Carol discusses the tenuous relationship homeschool groups have with churches who host their programs. How to keep your church happy with your group and how to keep your church out of trouble with the tax man!

 

 

In the podcast I mentioned a Facebbook group for homeschool leaders called I am a Homechool Group Leader. Fantastic group! Ask to join today.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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Does your homeschool group have fundraisers? You may need to register in your state

Carol,

We’re a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization (Thanks for helping us with that!). In your letter to us you say that if we “solicit contributions” we may need to register in our state. We don’t ask for donations, but we do have several fundraisers each year. Are our fundraisers considered “solicited contributions”?

Jennifer in Georgia

Jennifer,

Congratulations on your 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS. Now it’s time to determine what your state requires from your organization.

Charitable solicitation registration

My source for information on nonprofit fundraisers is Nolo’s Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: The 50 State Guide

The Guide explains that 39 states (and the District of Columbia) require registration from nonprofit organizations that solicit donations in their state. (This is all nonprofits, not just those with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.)

Definition of charitable solicitation

“Solicit contributions is defined broadly…Charitable solicitations don’t always have to involve asking for a donation. Offering to sell a product or service that includes a representation that all or part of the money received will be devoted to a charitable organization or charitable purpose is considered a charitable solicitation and triggers the registration requirement.”

So, fundraisers are included in the definition of charitable solicitations. That means if your homeschool group holds a fundraiser, you probably need to register in  your state. But keep reading…

Exemptions

The good news is that all states offer exemptions to their charitable registration for certain types of nonprofits. One common exemption is for small nonprofits:

“Most states exempt very small nonprofits from registering. In most states “small” is defined by a nonprofit’s gross revenues, not the number of members it has. In many states (about 16) a nonprofit qualifies for this exemption if it has annual gross revenues of less than $25,000.”

Nolo’s webpage with more exceptions to charitable registration

I researched the exemption rules in Georgia (it was included in the Form 1023-EZ Application for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status service that I provided to Jennifer’s organization ). I learned that Georgia offers an exemption from charitable registration  for nonprofits whose total revenue from contributions has been less than $25,000.00 for both the immediately preceding and current calendar years. Jennifer’s organization is under that $25,000 threshold in contributions and fundraisers, so she was happy to hear that her homeschool group did not need to register in Georgia. 🙂

Help for your homeschool organization

Determining whether your nonprofit is exempt from charity registration can be difficult. Exemptions vary from state to state. To determine whether your nonprofit is exempt in your state, you could look up the charitable solicitation laws of that state. The law is usually found on the Attorney General or Secretary of State’s website.

Or contact me, Carol Topp. I can do the research for you since I know what I am looking for!. This service includes drafting a letter for your board and future boards explaining the all required forms in your state with due dates. Cost: $50.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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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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