Is there a penalty for misclassifying my homeschool group’s workers?

Is there a penalty for misclassifying my homeschool group’s workers?

The IRS imposes strict penalties on an employer who treats workers as Independent Contractors when they should be employees. These penalties have put homeschool businesses and nonprofits out of business. Carol Topp, CPA discusses this topic and some programs the IRS has to avoid crippling penalties.

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Worker Classification Consultation

  • Is your homeschool teacher an employee or independent contractor?
  • Should your homeschool co-op director be paid as an employee?
  • How hard is it to set up a payroll system?
  • What happens if my homeschool group misclassifies a worker? Are their penalties?

Worker classification can be a confusing topic.

My book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help clear a lot of confusion, but perhaps you want to discuss your particular situation in a private, individual phone consultation.

I offer phone consultations to help you determine if your homeschool organization’s workers are employee or independent contractors. The phone call will be followed up with an email containing a fact-based determination and information to help you take the next steps.

Click Here to request more information!

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Is My Homeschool Co-op Teacher an Employee or Independent Contractor?

Is My Homeschool Co-op Teacher an Employee or Independent Contractor?

Should your homeschool co-op teacher be classified as an employee or an Independent Contractor? What’s the difference and how do you make the decision? Carol Topp, CPA, the HomeschoolCPA, sheds light onto this confusing topic and tells you how she determines if a co-op teacher is an employee or Independent Contractor.

Listen to the podcast

Worker Classification Consultation

  • Is your homeschool teacher an employee or independent contractor?
  • Should your homeschool co-op director be paid as an employee?
  • How hard is it to set up a payroll system?
  • What happens if my homeschool group misclassifies a worker? Are their penalties?

Worker classification can be a confusing topic.

My book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help clear a lot of confusion, but perhaps you want to discuss your particular situation in a private, individual phone consultation.

I offer phone consultations to help you determine if your homeschool organization’s workers are employee or independent contractors. The phone call will be followed up with an email containing a fact-based determination and information to help you take the next steps.

Click Here to request more information!

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What should a Classical Conversations tutor do if she thinks she’s misclassified?

 

How should Classical Conversations’ tutors handle their employment situation? They are required to use a specific curriculum, during a specific time and attend training.

In light of Landry Academy switching to employees but still not being able to stay in business, I am wondering what your thoughts are.

-KT

 

KT,

The closing of Landry Academy in late December 2016 was certainly sad and an eye opener. I don’t know the details of what happened to them, but it does seem they underwent an IRS audit and had to reclassify their teachers as employees.

I usually advise the business owners such as a Director of a CC community, but you are asking what should the CC tutor (i.e. the worker classified as an independent contractor) do if she thinks she is misclassified and should be treated as an employee.

1. Always report in full ALL your earned income received from CC on your tax return, even if you do not receive a 1099-MISC or W-2.

2.  Discuss your classification with your CC Director. Express your concern for her potential liability if she is misclassifying workers. Tell her about this IRS website and my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization. I also offer a service for business owners like CC Directors or nonprofit leaders to help them correctly classify and compensate their workers.

3.  Discuss your classification with your tax preparer. Seek his or her opinion on whether you wish to take advantage of the IRS reporting program. Visit this IRS page for details. If you do not have a tax preparer, you can arrange a phone consultation with me to discuss your particular situation.

Most important is for you to follow #1: Report all your earned income on your tax return even if you do not receive a 1099-MISC from your CC Director.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping homeschool leaders (and tutors!)

 

 

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Recording of Business Failure in the Homeschool Marketplace webinar

Yesterday I presented a webinar “Business Failure in the Homeschool Market that many of you (about 90!) attended.

 

Here’s the link to download the recording of the webinar.
The webinar lasted 2 hours because of all the questions asked, so it may take a few minutes to download.

 

Here’s a handout of the information I discussed.

 

We talked about
  • What triggers an IRS audit into worker classification
  • Factors to determine independent contractors or employee status
  • Consequences of misclassification and IRS programs to avoid penalties
  • What options are there for a homeschool co-op or academy
  • Are homeschool tutors or teachers at risk

I referenced my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization which may be helpful to many of you.

 I also mentioned that I offer a Worker Classification determination service if you need help determining if your workers are independent contractors or employees.

I’m happy to help and relieve any anxiety you have about this confusing topic.

Carol Topp, CPA

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What are the consequences of misclassifying a worker?

In the news and social media recently has been the sad story about a popular service offering classes for homeschool students having to close. In late December 2016, Landry Academy announced “It is with much sadness that we close the doors of Landry Academy.”

I do not know the details of their unfortunate situation, but it seems that there was an IRS requirement for Landry Academy to reclassify their teachers as employees, rather than independent contractors.

You may be wondering: What are the consequences of misclassifying workers?

Here’s what I tell business owners, nonprofit leaders, and anyone else hiring workers:

IRS Penalties

Under Internal Revenue Code section 3509 the penalties for worker misclassification include:

  • Paying a portion of federal income tax (1.5% of payroll),
  • Employer (100%) and employee (20%) shares of FICA taxes
  • Federal unemployment compensation taxes (FUTA).
  • In addition penalties for missed deposits (10%) and withholdings (20%) can be assessed.

Additional penalties include:

  • $50 for each Form W-2 that the employer failed to file because of classifying workers as an independent contractor.
  • A Failure to Pay Taxes penalty equal to 0.5% of the unpaid tax liability for each month up to 25% of the total tax liability.

Other Penalties

That’s pretty bad when you ad it all up, but the list of consequences goes on to include:

  • Penalties for failure to file state and local income tax withholding
  • Penalties due to unemployment insurance shortfalls
  • Worker’s compensation violations
  • Improper exclusion from benefit plans such as pension, retirement plans, health insurance, paid leave, severance pay, etc.

Here’s a long list of The Consequences of Misclassifying Your 1099 Contractors

Scared yet? You probably should be.

Worker misclassification is a serious issue and can cause significant financial hardship and has caused several businesses to close.

Here’s help

My book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help clear a lot of confusion, but perhaps you want to discuss your particular situation in a private, individual phone consultation.

I offer phone consultations to help you determine if your homeschool organization’s workers are employees or independent contractors. The phone call will be followed up with an email containing a fact-based determination and information to help you take the next steps.

To request a consultation, please contact me. I’m happy to help and relieve any anxiety you have about this confusing topic.

Carol Topp, CPA

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Webinar on business failure in the homeschool market

I am always saddened to hear about business failure in the homeschool market. I feel pain for the business owner, their employees and their customers.

  • How can this happen?
  • Can it be avoided?
  • What can a customer do if they have lost a lot of money?
  • What lessons can a homeschool business or homeschool co-op learn from others’ failures?
  • Are homeschool teachers and tutors at risk?

I’m going to answer all these questions and more during a live webinar hosted by Tammy Moore of Virtual Homeschool Group 

Webinar: Business Failures in the Homeschool Marketplace

 

Date: Saturday January 14, 2017

Time: 2:00 pm ET, 1:00 pm CT, 12 noon MT and 11:00 am PT. The webinar will last about 60 minutes.

Cost: Free

Topics:

  • For parents: How can parents avoid losing money?
  • For homeschool businesses and nonprofits: Could it happen to us?
  •  IRS audits, penalties and safe harbor provisions
  • Worker Classification: General guidelines and possible solutions
  • For homeschool teachers and tutors: Are you at risk?

Join the webinar  here

You’ll need to download the webinar application on your computer or mobile device before the webinar begins.

or phone in on Saturday January 14 at 2 pm ET/1 pm CT (only audio)

Call-in number: 571-392-7703

Participant PIN: 375 427 129 85

 

Here’s a handout I created.

I hope many of you will join me on Saturday January 14, 2017 to discuss this very important and timely issue.

Carol Topp, CPA

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Top 10 blog posts of 2016

 

Here is a round up of the top 10 most important blog posts from HomeschoolCPA in 2016.

 

Many of them have to do with paying workers in a homeschool organization, probably because I was asked a lot of questions about paying volunteers, giving discounts in stead of paying teachers and the difference between employees and independent contractors.

I also spent a lot of time in 2016 researching and writing Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization and my blog posts reflect what I was learning.

Compensation to homeschool board members is taxable income

Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization updated book is ready!

Are homeschool co-op tuition discounts taxable income? Probably!

Can you discount a homeschool co-op class in lieu of paying the teacher?

How you pay your homeschool teachers could affect the property tax exemption for your host church

Can a homeschool group just get together without having to report to the IRS?

Adding religious purpose to bylaws and Articles

Use Quickbooks online for free

Are discounts to homeschool board members taxable compensation?

How the IRS defines a school

I wonder what 2017 will bring in the world of homeschool organizations!

Sign up for my email list to be kept up to date on the questions homeschool leaders are asking.

P.S. Subscribers to my email list get freebies, discounts and special reports I share only with them.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

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Avoid controlling your independent contractor

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This is an excerpt from my update book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization

Avoid Controlling Your Independent Contractor

If your homeschool group would like to exert some control over teachers such as choosing curriculum or class content, requiring teachers to attend training sessions, or evaluating their performance, then you should pay them as employees.

One homeschool co-op was very particular about what method of teaching and content was taught to their students. They picked the curriculum and required training in their methods and their view of instruction. Then they evaluated the teachers on their teaching style, control of the classroom, and engagement with the students. They may be too controlling for their teachers to be accurately classified as independent contractors. They could increase the likelihood of properly treating the teachers as independent contractors by hiring teachers who are already trained in their methods and views of instruction, not require training (i.e., make it optional), and change their evaluation to focus on the completion of the tasks listed in their agreement and not focus on the teacher’s style of teaching. Or they could hire the teacher as an employee.

How Much Control is Too Much? The Plumber Test

How much you can control an independent contractor is a very difficult question to answer, because every situation is unique. Consider the model of a plumber when thinking about control and independent contractors. A plumber is an independent contractor who is hired for a specific, temporary job: to fix your plumbing. You usually have an informal, verbal agreement and may get an estimate of the cost before he begins work. He comes to your house at an agreed-upon time and brings his own tools. You may show him the problem and be in the room while he works, but you do not tell him how to do his job. You assume he knows what tools to use. He may return for additional work and will invoice you.

Now compare the plumber model to your relationship with your homeschool program’s independent contractors. Does it look like the plumber model? Then you are treating your independent contractors properly. If instead you exert more control over your workers than you do a plumber, then consider reclassifying them as employees.

If you need more information about your homeschool organization teachers, order Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization today and consider a personal Worker  Classification Consultation with me for your peace of mind.

Carol Topp, CPA


payingworkerscoveroutlined

Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization-2nd edition

$9.95 paperback
130 pages
Copyright 2017
ISBN 978-0-9909579-3-5

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Parents paying homeschool teachers is getting cumbersome

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Hello Carol,

I am the Executive Director of a 501(c)3 non-profit homeschool co-op. We have always had all parents pay teachers directly for classes. Of course the number of checks written by members each semester,and unraveling the missing/lost checks each semester along with the myriad of other payment mysteries has prompted to us to wonder if we can have all parents submit the teacher payments to our group, then we cut a check to each teacher.

We would essentially gather all the money and then direct it to each teacher. One check from each parent for all their children’s classes, and one check to each teacher for all the classes they are teaching.

Can we do this?

Holly

Holly,

Thank you for contacting me.

Yes, you can collect all the payments from parents and then pay the teachers, but there are some things to warn you about:

1. Managing more money means you need good accounting software (links to some of my blog posts with software recommendations), one that can invoice parents and track who has paid and who still owes.

2. Additionally, since you have a lot more income, you may have crossed an IRS threshold and now need to be filing the annual Form 990 or 990-EZ (YouTube video explaining which form you need to file).

3. Worker classification. You need to determine if the teachers are employees or  Independent Contractors (opens a blog post series on worker status). This is not an easy determination to make. You need to consider many factors.

I’m in the process of updating my book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization. I hope to have it ready by November 1, 2016.

I’ll also be offering a consultation service to help homeschool groups make a decision about employee or independent contractor status.

Sign up for my email list to be notified when the book and worker determination consultations will be available.

Carol Topp, CPA

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Paying Workers update will be available November 1

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I’m working hard at getting my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization updated. It’s grown from a 20 page ebook, to a 130 page paperback (ebook version will be available soon as well).

Here’s the Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Can You Pay a Volunteer?
Chapter 2: Paying Board Members and Other Leaders
Chapter 3: Employee or Independent Contractor? Worker Classification
Chapter 4: Guidelines for Hiring Independent Contractors
Chapter 5: Tax Forms for Independent Contractors
Chapter 6: Payroll Taxes for Employers
Chapter 7: Tax Forms for Employers
Chapter 8: Sample Independent Contractor Agreements
Chapter 9: Resources

 

The book is in the editing phase now and I hope it will be ready for sale by November 1st, 2016.

I know that can’t happen quickly enough for some of you! Just this week I received two emails from homeschool leaders asking if they are paying their teachers correctly.

I will also be offering a service to help assist homeschool leaders to make worker determinations. It will be a phone consultation followed up my helpful guidance on the next steps to take.

Be sure to sign up for my email list so you will be notified when the book is ready and when I will be offering worker determination consultations.

Carol Topp, CPA