Checking accounts and EINs for homeschool groups

We have always had a checking account under a parent’s name. We were adding a name to our account this year when the bank informed us we can no longer do this and we need to have our own Tax ID number. Will we need to file returns with the IRS if we get a tax ID number?

I strongly discourage using a parent’s name on an organization’s checking account. The organization should have a checking account in its own name and use an Employer Identification Number (EIN), not an individual’s social security number.

Getting an EIN does mean your organization will need to do some annual reporting to the IRS.

It didn’t used to be this way.

Homeschool groups used to be able to get an EIN, open a checking account, and never have to file any annual reports with the IRS. All that changed in 2006 when Congress passed a rule saying EVERY tax exempt organization had to file an annual information return with the IRS, Form 990, 990-EZ or 990-N with the IRS each year.

Read my 990-N FAQ page for details.

 

IRS and Your Homeschool Org coverMy book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization, explains the IRS required filings for your homeschool group.
Carol Topp, CPA

EIN before or after incorporation?

Hello, Carol.

I have learned so much from your website. Thank you for your expertise. I am part of a co-op that currently has 22 families. I was one of the five founding members. We need to open a bank account. I am in Texas. I am confused about whether or not I am supposed to get us recognized through the state as a corporation before I can get us an EIN and open a bank account for the group.

My bank told me that we need the “assumed name certificate” as well as the EIN.

Jennifer L
Texas

Jennifer,
I’m glad my website was helpful.

You do not have to be incorporated before getting an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS.  Your unincorporated association can get an EIN.

But if you do become incorporated someday, your group will be a new legal entity and need to get a new EIN at that time.

If your group is opening a checking account under a fictitious name, then you will probably need to register that name with the state or county. In my state of  Ohio my homeschool co-op had to file a name registration with the state and give some of the officer’s names.

 

I hope that helps.

Carol Topp, CPA

Should your homeschool group be a 501c7 social club?

Your website has been very helpful, but I would like to ask you some questions.  Now that we have the EIN are we required to file for any type of status? Are we going to have to fill out any IRS forms yearly or be responsible for any tax payments?
Also, when I applied for the EIN I listed us as a social organization because I thought that described our group better than the other choices since we only meet so that our families can socialize and enjoy activities together; was that an accurate description or do homeschool groups classify as something else? Any insight you have on our situation would be much appreciated.
Sincerely,
Catherine R in  Alabama
Catherine,
I’m glad my website was helpful.  It sounds as if your getting your group onto the right track.Here’s a blog post that you might find helpful: Will getting an EIN put us on the IRS’s radar?Many homeschool groups classify themselves as nonprofit educational organizations because they are co-ops or offer educational activities like classes and field trips. A support group could be considered a social club as you chose.

I have helped homeschool organizations apply for tax exempt status with the IRS several times. Homeschool groups typically apply for 501c3 status as an educational organization, but a few apply for 501c7 status as a social club.

IRS and Your Homeschool Org cover

I  discuss the difference between a 501c3 educational organization and a 501c7 social club in this article:

Homeschool Groups As Social Clubs

A more in depth explanation of 501c3 and 501c7 status can be found in my book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization.

Carol Topp, CPA

Banker wants IRS letter to open a checking account

Hi Carol,

At your leader meeting a few months back, you had recommended that all of our groups have the same EIN number.  When a group leader tried to change their account to one using our EIN, the banker wanted a copy of our original letter from the IRS.   I told the banker that we have never had to provide anything except a letter from me (one who obtained the number in 2002) and the EIN number which we provided.  He said it was just a personal preference of his.  Have you heard of this?  I am uncomfortable doing more than what is usually required and providing personal paperwork to him.  Am I being unreasonable, or do you think it is okay to provide it?   Thanks for any insight.

Debi in Indiana

Debi,

I’m with you-the banker should not need an IRS determination letter (I assume that’s what’s he is talking about) to open a nonprofit checking account. Some nonprofits never get a tax exempt determination letter from the IRS because they self declare their tax exempt status and never formally apply. (Note: only churches, social clubs and charities with less than $5,000 in annual income can self declare tax exempt status; all other organizations must apply for tax exempt status).

Most nonprofits need a checking account before getting IRS tax exempt status because the IRS charges a fee to process a tax exempt application!

Don’t believe the banker if he says an IRS 501c3 determination letter is required to open a checking account (fortunately he said it was his personal preference).  I once had a bank teller  tell me that nonprofits couldn’t earn interest on their savings accounts because they were nonprofit!  She was greatly mistaken. Bankers don’t always know what they are talking about (outside of banking…)

Carol Topp, CPA

Debi followed up my reply with the following

I think there is some confusion on what the bank manager is asking for.

I don’t think he is asking for us to prove that we are a 501c3 non-profit as recognized by the IRS. I think that all he wants is a copy of the letter from the Department of the Treasury that assigned us the EIN number. He probably doesn’t even know the right terms for what he is asking.

Yes, I think you are correct.  The banker may have only been asking for the EIN paper from the IRS, not a 501c3 determination letter.
I guess he’s being careful about getting the EIN correctly from the IRS letter itself.  I can’t blame him for that.

Carol Topp, CPA

New EIN for New Officers?

Does your group need a new Employer Identification Number (EIN) when there are new officers?

Hi Carol,
Thanks to your wonderful services in the past we have gone from a ministry under a church to an informal non profit support group within the community. Thanks so much for what you do for homeschool groups!
I was just reading through the list of FAQ’s and have one that has a little twist to what is already there about EIN’s so I thought I would run it past you.
As the current director (board leader), I had been the person to apply for the EIN for our group. I am nearing my finish on the board and we will have new board leaders. Do we have to have a new EIN issued? I know this current one was opened with my name as the responsible party, so I don’t know if that would “tie” me to the non profit for any thing down the road if I am no longer on the board?
Thanks so much for your help and/or direction.
Blessings,
Shawna B, CA


Shawna,
Thank you for your kind words. It was my pleasure.


You do not have to apply for a new EIN just because of a switch in officers. Nonprofits change leadership frequently.

You can have your name on the EIN replaced with the new leader by filling out IRS Form 8822-B

If you are a 501c3 tax exempt organization with more than $50,000 in gross revenue annually, you should be filing the annual Form 990 with the IRS. On the Form 990, you list the new officers’ names.

If your organization makes less than $50,000 per year then you should be filing the 990N, an electronic postcard, with the IRS. The 990N requests only the name of the “principle officer” not the entire board.

For more information on the 990N, visit the IRS website at:

http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=169250,00.html

Carol Topp, CPA