5 advantages of homeschool co-ops (video)

I have a series of 7 videos from my recent presentation of

Homeschool Co-ops Are Like Marriage: Know What You’re Getting Into

given at the Midwest Great Homeschool Convention in 2014.

Part 1 is titled 5 Advantages of Homeschool Co-ops

 

 

In the video I mentioned my book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out.

I also created this handout for the presentation.

Watch the other portions of the presentation on HomeschoolCPA’s YouTube Channel.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA Carol Topp at 2014 HSLDA National Conference

 

Homeschool School Legal Defense Fund Association (HSLDA) 2014 National Leader Conference will be held in my backyard. Well, not in my real backyard, but awfully close!

The 2014 Conference will be held in Erlanger, Kentucky, only about 30 minutes from my home.

Register here

I am honored that they have invited me as one of their speakers. I will be speaking to homeschool leaders from across the country on:

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad IRS? How the IRS Sees Homeschool Organizations

and

Tax Exempt Status for Homeschool Organizations: The Pros and Cons 

 

I hope to meet some of you there! If you cannot attend be sure to tell your state representative to attend one of my sessions and take good notes for you!

Carol Topp, CPA

How do you find a location for your homeschool co-op?

photo credit: http://www.mcgannconstruction.com/

 

I love the Facebook group I am a homeschool group leader. It’s like as support group for homeschool leaders.

Recently Kate asked,

How do you go about finding a location for your co-op? The church we had in mind wants us to rent the space (about $8000 for the ten month school year) which is not cost effective.

Here are some of the replies she received:

  • Municipal recreation centers
  • Try other churches
  • Public libraries
  • Vets halls, VFW Halls, American Legion Halls
  • Homeowner clubhouses
  • Boys & Girls clubs.  More than one leader commented that their local Boys and Girls Clubs were used by homeschool co-op during the day.
  • Places that offer after school programming. Lots of times they are empty during the day.
  • Public parks with buildings.

What a great list of ideas! I’d never thought of some of them.

Where does your co-op met?

More Money Myths Homeschool Moms Believe. Dollars and Sense Show #14

DollarsSenseShow#14

In this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show host Carol Topp and her guest Susan Raber of AtHomeAndSchool.com discuss more money myths that homeschool moms believe.

Listen to the show here
From Episode #13 of the Dollars and Sense Show, Carol and Susan discussed three money myths:

Myth #1: Just a Little More Money is All I Need…

Myth # 2:  I Need …..

Myth # 3:  It was on sale; I saved a lot of money!

On today’s show, Carol And Susan discuss two more money myths.

Myth # 4: Homeschooling is Expensive:

A study of 220 families spend between $300 and $1,000 per family each year. Private schools cost from $3,000-$10,000 year.  That’s expensive!

Truth:  Homeschooling is time consuming.

“Opportunity cost” is the cost of passing up a choice when making a decision.

Money tip:  Make up a homeschool budget.  Include books, field trips, classes, magazine subscriptions.

 

Myth # 5: I’ll use it someday

Truth:  You don’t know what the future holds

Ask yourself:

  1. Am I going to use it now or in the near future? Beware of buying things with the reasoning, ‘I’m not sure when I’ll use it, but I’ll use it someday.’  Tell yourself, “If it’s that good, it will be there when I need it.  If not, something better will replace it”
  2. Where is it going to go?  Make sure you have a clearly designated space otherwise it increases your clutter.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed these Five Money Myths and remember them as we enter the homeschool convention shopping season!

 

Tune in for the next Dollars and Sense show on April 24, 2014 when Carol will start a series on tips for teenagers or parents wanting to start a micro business.

 

Money Myths Homeschool Moms Believe. Dollars and Sense Show #13

DollarsSenseShow#13

In this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show host Carol Topp and her guest Susan Raber of AtHomeAndSchool.com discuss money myths that homeschool moms believe.

Listen to the show here

Do any of you, like me, have curriculum sitting on your shelf, that, if you are honest with yourself, you will probably never use?

I want to share some experiences I’ve learned about money and homeschooling.  I call it the Five Money Myths that Homeschool Moms Believe

Myth #1:  Just a Little More Money Will Solve All My Problems

Truth: Problem is not lack of money, but lack of contentment

Contentment Robbers: mail order catalogs, magazines, malls, etc… For homeschoolers the list is similar:

  • homeschool catalogs,
  • homeschool curriculum fairs,
  • homeschooling web sites and forums,
  • homeschooling magazines
  • and even (gasp) other homeschoolers

I personally do not look at the Sunday sale ads.  I didn’t know I needed stuff until I saw the ads!  So I stopped looking. Maybe it’s the same with you.  What are your contentment robbers?

Here’s some advice:

  1. Only look at catalogs when you have a specific need
  2. Use a shopping list at curriculum fairs. If it’s not on the list, you don’t need it.

Myth # 2:  I Need …..

Truth:  Wants are different from needs

Do you think that you just have to have a certain item (whether you need it or not) just because another homeschooler has it?

Here are some tips:

  1. Don’t buy things sight unseen
  2. Don’t buy more than one year of a new text

Myth # 3:  It was on sale; I saved a lot of money!

Truth:  Money is not saved unless there is a deposit into the bank!

As yourself: Is the sale price a good value?

My daughter was looking at an audio book catalog with deeply discounted prices.  “How can they sell these audio books so cheaply?” she asked me. “The original price was $500 and they’ll sell it for $150.” Perhaps, it never sold at $500 and it’s only worth $150. Is the $150 a good value?

Tip: If you buy something on sale, put the difference in a savings account.  Use the savings for future homeschool needs.

 

Tune in for the next Dollars and Sense show on April 10, 2014 when Carol and Susan will discuss More Money Myths that Homeschool Moms Believe.

 

Teens and taxes. Dollars and Sense Show #12

DollarsandSenseShow12

In this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show host Carol Topp discusses taxes and teenagers.

Listen to the show here

Show Notes:

 A teenager files their own tax return!  Do NOT add your child’s income to your tax return.

You can still claim your teenager as your dependent. They check a box stating they are claimed as a dependent on your tax return.

Major taxes affecting teenagers: earned income, unearned income, and self-employment tax.

 Earned Income from a job or micro business (including babysitting). Federal income tax is owed if earned income is more than $6,100 (in 2013)

 Unearned Income: interest, dividends, capital gains on taxable accounts in the student’s name. Federal income tax is owed if unearned income is more than $1,000. Between $1,00 and $2,00 unearned income is taxed at child’s tax rate. More than $2,000 unearned income is taxed at parent’s rate  on Form 8615 (“Kiddie tax”)

Self-Employment Tax

Same as Social Security and Medicare for self-employed people. 15.3% of profit over $400. Unadjusted since 1954 (adjusted would be $6,250). Schedule SE attached to Form 1040. Reported on Line 56 under Other Taxes on back of Form 1040. (the “hidden” tax)

Example: $5,000 profit earned by single teenager. Income tax $0. SE tax $706!

If you’d like to see this changed, visit MicroBusinessForTeens.com/eliminate-tax-on-teen-entrepreneurs for a position paper you can share with your congressman.

 Exception to SE tax for teenage Household Employee: Students under age 18 working in or around an individual’s home is a household employee are not subject to SE tax. Report wages on Form 1040 Line 7 with “HSH” as note. Examples: babysitting, lawn care, house cleaner

 Teenagers scammed: Treated as independent contractor instead of employee.
Signs: Paycheck with no SS/Medicare withheld. Paid in cash. 1099MISC not W-2.
Action: Complain to employer. File complaint with IRS (Form SS-8) and Form 8919 to pay half SS/Medicare.

Resources

Teens and Taxes ebook by Carol Topp, CPA available at TeensandTaxes.com
Money and Taxes in a Micro Business by Carol Topp, CPA available at MicroBusinessForTeens.com
IRS Understanding Taxes website http://apps.irs.gov/app/UnderstandingTaxes

 

Tune in for the next Dollars and Sense show on March 27, 2014 when Carol will discuss 5 Money Myths that homeschool moms believe.

 

Money, Taxes and the Homeschool Family

My latest article “Money, Taxes and the Homeschool Family” is in this month’s edition of The Old Schoolhouse magazine.

Read the entire article here

The Old Schoolhouse magazine is  completely online and FREE.

You don’t even have to give your email to read it. How coo is that?

You might want to visit page 34 too!

Carol Topp, CPA

Video: Nonprofit status for homeschool groups

I created a short video explaining nonprofit status for homeschool groups.

I compare nonprofit status to being married!
See what you think:

 

If you have more questions about nonprofit status for your homeschool organization, start by reading these articles:

 

IRS and Your Homeschool Org cover

 

My book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization is very helpful for homeschool groups considering tax exempt status.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Any tax breaks for homeschoolers? Dollars and Sense Show #11

DollarsAndSenseShow11

In this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show host Carol Topp discusses tax breaks for homeschoolers.

Listen to the show here

Show Notes:

There is no federal tax credit or deduction for homeschool expenses

Some states do allow a deduction, usually on state income tax. Proposed in Ohio: Property tax deduction for homeschool expenses

Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana and Minnesota and all have some sort of tax break for individuals. The credit is available to any public or private school student, so it is not unique to homeschoolers.

Links:
This website has a comparison of state programs that offer a tax credits for educational expenses or for a donation to a scholarship fund. It was last updated in September 2011. http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/educcred.pdf

Home School Legal Defense Association has an explanation of some states’ tax breaks or credits:http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200504150.asp

Ann Zeise of A to Z Home’s Cool has a great, detailed and lengthy post of tax write-offs for homeschoolers:
http://a2zhomeschooling.com/laws/homeschool_laws_legalities/tax_writeoff_educational_writeoffs/

 Disadvantages of tax breaks for homeschool expenses:
We have an overly complex tax system already
Fear of government regulation, proof of homeschooling, etc.

 

Remember tax deductions and credits just reduce the tax you pay.

Your state government is not putting cash in your hand to purchase books. You must do that first.

Then you pay a little bit less in tax via a tax deduction.

 

Tax breaks for parents

  • Exemptions: $3,900 per person in 2013.
  • Child tax credit. $1,000 per child. Ends when child turns 17, not 18! Law says child “was under age 17 at the end of the year.”
  • Earned Income Credit
  • Child care deduction (if working for pay)
  • Educator Expense deduction (not allowed for homeschoolers because the teacher-parent is not employed by a school for 900 hours in a school year)
    • There is a bill in the US House of Representatives to allow home school parents to take this deduction. HR 1850 sponsored by Rep Tom Cole, R-OK.

Education credits/deduction

  • American Opportunity Credit (used to be called the Hope Credit) up to $2,500 per student. Tuition, books and equipment. First 4 years of undergraduate college.
  • Lifetime Learning Credit: up to $2,000 per tax return. Tuition, books and equipment. Undergrad, graduate and courses to acquire or improve job skills.
  • Tuition/fees deduction: Up to $4,000. Cannot claim tuition deduction and AOC/Lifetime for same student in same year.
  • Student loan interest deduction. $2,500 deduction.
  • Some states allow 529 deduction (Ohio)

College savings incentive

  • 529 plans offered in many states. Known an Qualified Tuition Programs (QTP). Tax free earnings when used for tuition, books, room and board.
  • Coverdell Education Saving Account (also known as Education IRA). $2,000 contribution per beneficiary per year. Tax free earnings when used for tuition, books, room and board. Can also be used for k-12 expenses.

 

Tune in for the next Dollars and Sense show on DATE when Carol will discuss NEXT EPISODE TITLE

 

 

Any tax breaks for homeschooling in 2013?

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Tax season hasn’t even started, but my website stats tell me that homeschooling parents are already wondering if there are any tax breaks for homeschooling, based on my previous blog post, Any Tax Breaks for Homeschoolers?

 

There are no tax credits for homeschool expenses from the federal government, but there may be tax deductions on your state income tax depending on what state you live in.

Several states have an educational tax credit.

Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana and Minnesota and all have some sort of tax break for individuals. The credit is available to any public or private school student, so it is not unique to homeschoolers.

Florida, Indiana, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania offer businesses a tax credit if they sponsor a scholarship.

This website has a comparison of state programs that offer a tax credits for educational expenses or for a donation to a scholarship fund. It was last updated in September 2011. http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/educcred.pdf

 

Home School Legal Defense Association has an explanation of some states’ tax breaks or credits:http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200504150.asp

Ann Zeise of A to Z Home’s Cool has a great, detailed and lengthy post of tax write-offs for homeschoolers:

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/laws/homeschool_laws_legalities/tax_writeoff_educational_writeoffs/

Sorry I don’t have happier news, but many homeschoolers fear that a tax credit might come with strings attached such as reporting private information and record keeping that they would not care for. They prefer to homeschool in freedom and pay their own way in full.

What do you think?

Carol Topp, CPA