Leading a Large Homeschool Co-op

 

Do you lead a large or growing homeschool co-op?

In this short podcast episode (20 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, interviews Kendall Smith who leads a large homeschool co-op. She explains how they transitioned from an enrichment-only group to offering academic classes and getting volunteers and teachers. She offers sage advice on running a group successfully.

Featured resource

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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Protect the children in your homeschool group

Homeschool leaders,

Do you know how to keep the children in your homeschool group safe? What should you do if you suspect child abuse?

Here’s a helpful resource: Child Safety Guide, a 40 page ebook from GuideOne Insurance. It had a lot of safety checklists, a sample consent form, an incident report, and Child Protection Policy sample.

It also has information on background checks and what to do if you suspect child abuse.

Very helpful. It’s free. All it costs is your email address.

 

FREE E-BOOK | Protect the children in your ministry

 

I originally shared this information on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HomeschoolCPA/

and in a Facebook group I co-lead: I Am a Homeschool Group Leader. It’s a group of almost 400 homeschool leaders from across the USA supporting each other by answering questions about running a Homeschool group. Come join us!

 

Download the Child Safety Guide today, read it, and discuss it with your board.

Let’s hope you never need the information shared there, but if you do you’ll be glad you had this resource.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

How long do I need to keep these homeschool group records?

From the I Am a Homeschool Group Leader Facebook group (if you’re not a member yet request to join us. We’d love to have you!)

 

How does your group handle old financial records? What do you keep, what gets tossed and when?

When I began as treasurer, I received tons of files, receipts, bank statements, old insurance policies, order forms and the like. Our group is 30 years old. It’s a lot of stuff! Don’t want to toss anything that’s needed, but thinking that much of this is not necessary anymore.

Julie

 

I found some helpful lists of what to keep and for how long:

Document Retention for US Nonprofits: A Simple Guide

Document Retention Policies for Nonprofits

Both of these lists are for large nonprofits with employees, buildings, etc. so the lists are crazy long and overly detailed for most homeschool groups.

So I culled it down to this:

Keep these records permanently

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Determination Letter from the IRS
  • IRS Tax Exempt Application Form 1023/1023-EZ
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Information Returns, Form 990/990-EZ or 990-N
  • State Information returns or annual reports

Keep for 7 years

  • Financial statements (year-end)
  • Canceled checks
  • Bank Statements
  • Leases (5 years after lease ends)
  • Background checks
  • 1099-MISC  given to Independent Contractors
  • Employment Tax records (Form 941, W-2s etc)
  • Payroll records (although one list said to keep these permanently!)

Keep for 3-5 Years

  • Minutes of board meetings (although one list said to keep these permanently!)
  • Invoices
  • Reimbursements
  • Receipts of expenses
  • Insurance  policies

 

Where do you store these documents and papers? Most of the documents will probably be stored at the Treasurer’s and Secretary’s homes.

But the documents to be kept permanently should be stored in a board members’ binders and passed down to future board members. Each board member should have a copy of the important “Keep permanently” documents.

I have created a Homeschool Organization Board Manual. It is a template to create a board member binder. It has:

  • A list of important documents to keep in your binder
  • Section dividers so you can organize the important papers
  • Tools to help you run your meetings smoothly including
  • A sample agenda that you can use over and over again
  • A calendar of board meetings

Defining Your Homeschool Co-op’s Mission and Purpose

 

How id your homeschool co-op unique?

Each homeschool co-op is unique and should have a specific purpose. Without a focused mission the leaders can be trying to all things to all people and will quickly burnout. Listen as Carol Topp discusses creating a purpose and mission for your homeschool co-op.

Featured resource

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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What Are the Disadvantages of Homeschool Co-ops?

 

Are homeschool co-ops worth the time and money involved?

What are other disadvantages you should know about before joining a homeschool co-op?

Homeschool co-ops have a lot of advantages, but some disadvantages too. Be sure you consider these costs and potential issues before you join a co-op. If you are leading a homeschool co-op listen in to this short podcast episode (15 minutes) from Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, to learn how to deal with the expectations of your members.

 

 

Featured resource

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!

Carol Topp, CPA

Save

Save

What Are the Benefits of a Homeschool Co-op?

 

Are you considering starting a homeschool co-op?

What are the advantages of belonging to a co-op?

They are many as Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA, points out in this short (15 minutes)podcast. If you’re already leading a homeschool co-op listen in to see if you are offering these advantages to your co-op members.

 

Featured resource

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!

Carol Topp, CPA

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Does refunding homeschool dues cause a tax problem?

 Due to some circumstances, our homeschool group will no longer be able to offer classes and we wish to refund members the dues paid to our group within the past few months.  Will we run into any taxation problems or other problems involving the IRS?  Thank you!
Andrea
Andrea,

 

It is perfectly acceptable for your homeschool group to refund the class dues since you never delivered the service (i.e. the classes).

 

Since you didn’t deliver the classes the customer is due a refund.

 

What is not allowed for a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit group like yours is to distribute any funds if your group dissolves. The IRS requires that assets (money in the bank and anything you own) of a 501(c)(3) organization must go to another 501(c)(3) organization when it closes. The assets cannot be divvied up among the members or leaders.

 

This refund is not taxable income to the parents. It is just a refund of a payment for services that were never delivered.

 

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

Can a homeschool co-op invoice the parents on behalf of a teacher?

co-op-invoice_14053
Hi Carol,

I recently found your website and have found it very useful.  I am waiting for your book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization to be delivered this week to me.

We are trying to figure out how to invoice families for their student’s classes.  I collect the checks each month from the families and then disperse them to the teachers. I started using QuickBooks to send invoices, but since the money goes to the teachers, I don’t enter any money received which throws off our accounting records.  Is there a way to make QuickBooks work for this?

I did find where you suggested to have the teacher’s collect the money themselves, but is there a way we can still do the invoicing?

Thank you,

Kari

Kari,

I hope the Paying Workers book is helpful.

Since your organization is sending out the invoices and your organization collects the money from the parents, then the money belongs to your organization and needs to be recorded as revenues in QuickBooks (use the Customers>Receive Payments). When the teachers get paid, it is recorded as an expense in QuickBooks probably using an expense account such as Contract Labor or Wages.

By the way, you need to determine if your teachers are employees or independent contractors. I can help you decide.

You asked, “I did find where you suggested to have the teacher’s collect the money themselves, but is there a way we can still do the invoicing?”

Nope. If your organization sends the invoice, that means that your organization, not the teacher, expects to be paid the money.

If your organization wants the teachers to be paid directly by the parents, then your homeschool group has to stay out of the relationship.

You group should not invoice the parents, tell the teacher what she can charge, and not collect the checks from the parents.

The teacher must handle the money collection from parents all by herself. She is in business for herself and your homeschool organization should stay out of the money she collects from the parents.

I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA

Why I think most homeschool teachers should be paid as employees

 

I state pretty clearly in my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization (3rd edition) that teachers in a homeschool program should be treated as employees not Independent Contractors.

I’ve gotten some push back on my opinion.  I understand why. No one likes the expense and paperwork involved in employees, especially when they are  hiring part-time and seasonal employees.


But my goal is to keep homeschool organizations and their leaders out of trouble with the IRS and state governments. We don’t need a target on our backs! So I’m going to stick to my opinion because I think it’s correct and best protects homeschool leaders.


So let me explain why I have the opinion I do:

The IRS guidelines on worker classification are where I start. The IRS has the old 20-factor test and the newer 3 factor common law rules. I wrote about both of these guidelines extensively in Paying Workers.

But, I base my opinion on more than the IRS guidelines. I base it on hours of reading IRS rulings and tax court cases and my understanding of how homeschool programs operate.

I also base my opinion on this statement given by Bertrand M Harding, an attorney who specializes in nonprofit law. In his book The Tax Law of Colleges and Universities (Third Edition, Wiley, 2008) he writes,

“In at least one audit, the IRS agents asserted that, because instruction is such a basic and fundamental component of a college or university*, individuals who are hired to provide instruction should always be treated as employees because the school is so interested and involved in what they do that it will always exercise significant direction and control over their activities.” (emphasis added)

* The IRS was specifically addressing instructors at colleges and universities, but I believe their conclusion applies to public schools, private schools, and homeschool programs as well.

Some homeschool leaders differ with my opinion. I believe they are putting themselves at risk and I caution them about IRS penalties, etc. The Landry Academy IRS problems was a wake up call of how bad it can get. Although I don’t know the particular details on the financial penalties faced by Landry Academy, it was significant enough that the business declared bankruptcy.

I released a podcast on creative ways that homeschool co-ops can hire teachers without paying them as employees. Creative Ways to Run Your Co-op Without Employees

I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com