Insurance and fundraising for a homeschool team

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Carol,
Our homeschool group has an engineering class that has become a finalist team in an invention competition at MIT.  The teacher needed us as a non-profit organization to “back” or “sponsor” the team. All that means is we needed to support the team (not financially, but letter of recommendation).

Now that we have become finalists it is very possible we will be selected to travel to MIT for the competition.  Our concern is liability.  Is there a way for us to continue to support the team without a worry about insurance for the travel?  Can we have parents sign a waiver of liability?
The teacher has agreed to fund raise but NOT have any of the money go through our accounting, since we need to limit our income due to the 5013c requirements.  Our income needs to stay below a certain amount. We are a large coop and so our dues add up quickly.
Mary S
Mary,
Congratulations on your Engineering teams success!

I’m not an insurance or risk expert, so I am not really sure how “sponsoring” an academic team makes your organization responsible if there is an accident while traveling. Yes, have parents sign a waiver, but that is not guarantee that you’re free of responsibility. It just reminds parents that they should be carrying medical insurance on their children.

  • Act in a responsible, safe manner and you’ll lessen the risk.
  • Ask for drivers licenses from the drivers.
  • Ask if they have speeding tickets, their own insurance, etc.
  • Have chaperones at all times, never let the kids go off by themselves, etc.

I bet you can search the internet and find a waiver and maybe even rules to follow. Ask the competition for samples of waivers or contact the other groups coming and ask for their policies.

Does your co-op have liability insurance? You should call your insurance agent and talk to him/her. They may say your group is covered under your current policy or write you a special event rider.

Limits on nonprofit income

The dollar limits the IRS imposes are for organizations that have not yet applied for 501c3 status (if gross income is under $5,000 a year, a group can be considered tax exempt without filing the application form with the IRS).

If you already have 501c3 status (and have an IRS letter to prove it), you are not limited in the dollar amount you can raise. For example, the Red Cross raises millions each year to help  in disasters.

The IRS does have dollar thresholds when filing the annual Form 990. For example if your gross income is under $50,000 you file the simple on-line 990-N form once a year. If your gross income is $50,000-$200,000, you file the Form 990-EZ. The gross income determines what form you file, but does not limit the amount you can raise.

Check with whoever told you that you had to stay under a certain dollar amount. I think he/she may be confused.

Carol Topp, CPA

Ideas of easy fundraisers for homeschool groups

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Your homeschool organization probably looks for extra ways to bring in money. Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA, shares ideas for easy fundraising in this episode of the Dollars And Sense Show podcast.

Listen to the podcast here

Easy fundraisers show notes:

Coupon and reward programs
Box Tops. Need 501c3 status
Shopping reward like Kroger Plus program
E Scrip

Food as a fundraiser
Pizza sales, bake sales to members
Candy, popcorn sales to public could impose a reporting to you state’s AG office
Restaurant (Chik-Fil-A) give a percent of proceeds from one night to your organization
Dinners as fundraisers

Donations
Via email, website, crowd funding, etc
Read-a-thon or walk-a-thon
Car washes and bake sales

Sell products
Ideas at TopSchoolFundraisers.com
Used curriculum sale. Charge an entrance fee, or a table fee to the sellers (or both!)

Reporting the Fundraiser income:
The IRS considers fundraisers to be unrelated to your nonprofit purpose and therefore, subject to taxation. Exceptions to the Unrelated Business Income tax:

  • Under $1,000 income from fundraisers in a year
  • All volunteer labor (no hired help to run the fundraiser)
  • Not regularly carried on
  • Selling donated items

State may require reporting to their attorney General if you sell to the public or solicit donations from the public. Usual exceptions are: only sales to members, a dollar threshold ($25,000 is common), all volunteer labor, but these vary by state.

Warning: No Individual fundraising accounts!
See http://homeschoolcpa.com/scouts-dont-allow-individual-fundraising-account-and-neither-should-you/

More information:
Money Mgmt HS OrgCover

Money Management in a Homeschool Organization book

Blog posts on fundraising: http://homeschoolcpa.com/tag/fund-raising/

Article “Easy Fundraisers for Homeschool Groups” at http://homeschoolcpa.com/leader-tools/articles/

 

If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a review on iTunes. (click on View in iTunes to leave a review)

How to leave a review on iTunes

Thank you!

Carol Topp, CPA

Scouts don’t allow individual fundraising account (and neither should you!)

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I am frequently asked questions about fundraisers for homeschool groups, especially about individual fundraising accounts.

What’s in Individual Fundraising Account?

An individual fundraising account is any method by which a nonprofit group credits an individual or family for some or all of the funds raised by that individual or family. Usually, credit is given for sales of products and services at the organization’s fundraising events.

Aren’t IFAs used by a lot of youth organizations?

These IFAs are very common, especially in scouting and  youth sports. In the past, youth organizations followed some simple guidelines  that they thought made the practice of creating IFAs acceptable. Here’s an example of an IFA policy.

I’m a conservative CPA and always discouraged the use of any IFAs. I’m not alone. ParentBooster.com strongly discourages IFAs and Trail Life USA  disallows IFAs for their members.

Boy Scouts discontinuing Individual Fundraising Accounts

And now it appears that the Boy Scouts USA has also changed their policy regarding IFAs. According to BobwhiteBather.com,

Source: http://bobwhiteblather.com/new-policy-prohibits-individual-scout-fundraising-accounts/

… the Boy Scouts of America is beginning to inform units that they may no longer allocate fundraising proceeds to “Scout accounts” for the private use of members to pay their expenses. This goes against a longstanding recommendation that units should use fundraising to allow individual Scouts to pay their own way. The new policy was first found buried in a publication aimed at councils on running effective product sales, which was released late last summer, and most recently appeared in Fiscal Policies and Procedures for BSA Unitsa summary of frequently-asked questions about unit finance.

 

FYI, the Boy Scout document cited above says quite clearly, “Funds raised by the unit from product sales belong to the unit. They may not be transferred to the Scout.”

So, my advice to homeschool organizations is unchanged:

  • Do NOT set up individual fundraising accounts.
  • If you have them now, STOP!
  • If you conduct fundraising, do not record how much each family brought in.
  • Do not have a system where tuition or dues are reduced by the amount of fundraising a family conducts.

You may find your organization can still function quite well, or even better without individual fundraising accounts like Becky’s homeschool group did.

Carol Topp, CPA

Homeschool co-ops and money!

Homeschool CPA, Carol Topp, was recently interviewed on the podcast Homeschooling Co-op Style by host Pat Wesolowski.

Podcast host Pat Wesolowski

 

 

Carol and Pat discussed the ins and outs of money matters in regard to co-ops and other issues that pertain to homeschoolers (such as fund raising)!

The thought of formalizing your co-op into a non-profit might not have entered your mind.

However, there are benefits to becoming a non-profit and, if you hire teachers you may find it quite beneficial.

Listen to the podcast here

The podcast runs about 30 minutes. Listen in iTunes here!

Can you fund raise or accept donations as a homeschooling family?

Dollarsinhand

If I am going to homeschool my own children and am not part of an organization, is there a way to fund raise or receive donations for homeschooling and keep it separate from our home income? Do we need to still claim it as part of a household income if we are using it for school purposes? Are there any tax deductions or credits for homeschooling?

Jena F in AZ

 

Jena,

I’ve been asked before about fundraising to a family to help with homeschool expenses. Here’s a blog post on the subject:
http://homeschoolcpa.com/can-my-individual-homeschool-have-a-fundraiser/

You may fund raise, but the the income is considered earned income from a business and the profit is fully taxable.

You can accept gifts from generous people, but they will not be tax deductible donations to the donor because your family is not a qualified charitable organization.

There are no federal tax deductions for homeschool expenses, but some states, such as Indiana allow educational deductions to all parents, public, private school and homeschool.
Here’s another blog post on that subject: http://homeschoolcpa.com/?s=tax+deductions

AZ does have some tax credits for education, but they are for donations to a school, not for individual expenses. Read more here:
http://www.azdor.gov/TaxCredits/SchoolTaxCreditsforIndividuals.aspx

I hope that helps,
Carol Topp, CPA

Raising money for your own kid is not charity!

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Fellow CPA Peter Reilly, a journalist at Forbes.com, emailed me about a recent court case involving individual fundraising accounts (IFAs).

IFAs are when you share or distribute your fundraising proceeds among the families who raised the money.

IFAs are illegal and a gymnastics booster club recently lost a Tax Court case and their tax exempt status for using IFAs.

Read Peter’s blog post on the court case. It’s a very good summary (I read the entire court case!)

Parent Booster Clubs – Raising Money For Your Own Kid Is Not Charity

Here’s the bottom line:

Do NOT set up individual fundraising accounts.

If you have them now, STOP!

If you conduct fundraising, do not record how much each family brought in.

Do not have a system where tuition or dues are reduced by the amount of fundraising a family conducts.

 

All fundraising proceeds should go into your general fund to be used for the common expenses of the group.

We’re all in this together folks!
Carol Topp, CPA

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Fundraising only with in your membership has advantages

GirlThrowsMoney

Would a vendor fair or yearbook ads where we ask businesses for sponsoring money be considered raising money from the public?

Would fundraising with our members only be considered public?

Thank you,

Tonya W in FL

 

Tonya,

Note: Tonya is asking these questions because her state, Florida, asks several questions about fundraising or soliciting money from the public. Most states regulate nonprofit organizations that fund raise from the public. Many states allow groups to fund raise within their membership without any reporting to the state.

Fundraising from only within your membership is not public fund raising.

A vendor fair is not really “raising money.” It is a program related to your purpose (education). So all income from it would be considered “program income” not fund raising income to the IRS and FL.

The ads in the yearbook are not related to your purpose (education), so it is considered Unrelated Income to the IRS. Unrelated Income is taxable, but the IRS has several exceptions to being taxed.
Read about it here:  http://homeschoolcpa.com/what-is-unrelated-business-income-tax/

The states care about you asking for donations from the public, not really about income from running your program, holding a vendor fair, or selling yearbook ads.

Hope that helps!

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Will being an Amazon affiliate cause tax problems for a homeschool group?

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I have a question about affiliate relationships with companies like Amazon. We want to receive the benefits offered by Amazon (and others) by placing a link on our website for members and non members to use when ordering products.

I read through one article on your blog regarding Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT). One point in your article refers to exemptions for the tax and I believe we will qualify for at least two:

  • A $1,000 threshold allows that the first $1,000 in profit from an unrelated business will not be taxed.
  • If the fundraiser (or unrelated business) is run by volunteer efforts (i.e., no paid staff) then the proceeds are not taxed.

Do you have anything to add to that article or any others I haven’t seen?  Specifically, should we avoid these types of programs?

I appreciate your insight as well as your being a resource to the homeschool community.

Sincerely,

Jeanne R

 

Jeanne,

Thank you for contacting me and your kind words.

I think you understand Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) and the exemptions quite well.

UBIT is a tax that tax exempt organizations must pay when they earn a profit on activities that are unrelated to their tax exempt purpose. The classic example is that a nonprofit hospital must pay the IRS taxes on profit from their gift store, because running a gift store is not related to the hospitals tax exempt purpose (treating illness).

Most charities qualify for exemption from UBIT and you found two common exemptions.

I think the affiliate program with Amazon is a fine idea.

Have it run by volunteers and you’ll avoid any UBIT.

Carol Topp, CPA

How can a homeschool mom redeem BoxTops?

I was wondering how I could redeem my boxtops,but I’m not in a homeschooling group, I’m just a homeschooler. How can I redeem them?

 

According to the BoxTops4Education Official Rules you must be a school or a recognized 501(c)(3) tax exempt homeschool association in order for Box Tops to redeem your box tops.

General Mills does not give check to individual families.

I recommend you give the box tops you have to a school or 501(c)(3) homeschool group.

Carol Topp, CPA

Can a homeschool athletic booster club be a 501c3?

FreeDigitalPhotos.net Credit: Salvatore Vuono

FreeDigitalPhotos.net Credit: Salvatore Vuono

Mrs Topp,

For several years my wife has operated a group here in Lubbock Texas.  The purpose of the group is to raise funds for our homeschool athletic teams to pay for various aspects of their sporting endeavors.

 The group receives a percentage of sales from concession stands operated at Texas Tech University and are paid by Ovations, the current concessions operator for Texas Tech.   Ovations uses non-profit groups to operate all concession stands.

 We have never sought non-profit status and now Ovations is insisting that we do so or they will no longer use us.

We has always paid each individual working in the stand based on how much time they worked, and given out 1099MISC to those making over the minimum $600.  Those working come from homeschool athletic teams though we do not dictate how the money each receives is spent.

 In reading the IRS website I can see that sports organizations are eligible for non-profit status, but is the way we pay those working acceptable?

 Paul H

Lubbock, Texas

 

Paul,

Your organization sounds like a parent booster club in that you raise funds to support athletic teams. Yes, booster clubs and athletic teams can be 501c3 tax exempt organizations.

The issue of paying parents working a concession stand has come up with the IRS in the past.
Here is a blog post I have written on the topic.
http://homeschoolcpa.com/the-irss-word-on-fundraising-dos-and-donts/
I think the IRS would approve of the way you are paying the parents. Giving them a 1099MISC is the correct way to report their earnings.

You might also find this website ParentBooster.org helpful.

ParentBooster.org offers tax exempt status to athletic booster clubs that support the activities of a school under their group tax exempt status. I asked the founder, Sandy Englund, if homeschool booster clubs would be eligible for 501c3 tax exempt status under ParentBooster.org, but she said no. Maybe you should ask and see if you get a different answer. It would be a very easy way to obtain your 501c3 tax exempt status.