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


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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

Independent contractors and W-9 form

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Carol,
I wanted to check with you about a sentence that is in our Independent Contractor Agreement. No one has ever given us a W-9 before even though they have signed our agreement. Why are the contractors submitting any tax related information to us? I thought they were to complete all of that completely on their own. Is that part necessary?

Thank you so much!!!
Tanya B

Tanya,

The W-9 is the official way to collect an Independent Contractor’s name and SSN or business name and EIN (Employer Identification Number).   This information is needed if you pay them over $600 a year and issue them a 1099-MISC.

You can get the Form W-9 from the IRS website.

The W-9 is also the unofficial way to determine if you are dealing with ethical people. Some people do not like giving their information on a W-9 because they were not going to report the income on their tax return.  Having them fill in a W-9 indicates that your organization obeys the law and expects them to obey the law as well.

Your organization keeps a copy of the W-9 filled in by the Independent Contractor. You do not sent it into the IRS.

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Have more questions about paying workers in your homeschool organization? My book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization is being updated and expanded and will be available in print and ebook form later in 2016. Sign up for my email list to get notice of when its ready!

 

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Things to Know Before You Sign an Independent Contractor Agreement

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Lots of homeschool organizations hire independent contractors (IC), usually as teachers in a class for homeschool students.

Here’s a great list of things to consider including in your IC agreements. It’s advice to the contractor, but the information is helpful to homeschool leaders hiring ICs, too. Don’t treat them like employees if they are paid like independent contractors.

For the full article, click here

11 Things to Know Before You Sign an Independent Contractor Agreement

(edited for bevity)

1. Intellectual property. If you are creating art, written work, computer programs or other creative works, then it may be an advantage to you to be an independent contractor. Generally, you own the copyright to works created as a contractor. But get it in writing!

2. Taxes. As a contractor, you’ll pay both halves of your Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you’re an employee, the employer pays half. This is a big chunk of pay to give up, so be sure you’re really a contractor before you sign. And be sure to set aside about 15%-25% of your pay to cover the taxes.

3. Control. If you perform services for someone and they control what you do and how you do it, you’re probably an employee. Independent contractors do the work where, when and how they choose. Nobody tells them what order to do the job in, what hours to work, or when they can take off. But, obviously, if you’re hired to teach a class, show up when the class is held. Duh!

4. Equipment and supplies. Independent contractors generally use their own equipment and supplies.

5. Assistants. If you are told who will assist you and can’t choose anyone you want to help you with your tasks, then you may be an employee. Independent contractors can usually hire their own assistants, or choose to work alone.

6. Evaluations. If you are evaluated about the process, details and methods of your work, you may be an employee. An independent contractor is evaluated on results — the end product, not the procedures used.

7. Training. If the company trains you on how they want the job done and the specific procedures to be used, then this is a good indication that you’re an employee. Training for independent contractors should be minimal — instruction on the overall results needed only.

8. Financial control. Pay for employees is normally done by the hour, day or week. Contractors are more frequently paid by the job, although are sometimes paid hourly. A contractor will have more opportunity to make a profit or take a loss than an employee.

9. Opportunity to work elsewhere. Contractors frequently advertise and are considered free to take work from other companies. Employees usually have to work for a single employer only.

10. Benefits. If the company provides insurance, sick days, vacation time, pension or other benefits, then you are likely an employee.

11. Indefinite time. If you are hired for an indefinite period of time, as opposed to working on a specific project or series of projects, then you may be an employee.

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Need more help composing an independent contractor agreement? I’m updating my book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization this summer. It will have sample IC agreements. If you can’t wait until it’s ready, the current ebook as a very usable agreement to get your started.

Carol Topp, CPA

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Is our homeschool band director an independent contractor?

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We are in the very beginning stages of becoming a non profit homeschool band.  We will charge a monthly tuition which will cover compensating the band director for directing/teaching the bands. The band director teaches at another business as well. He is planning on incorporating as an LLC. He gets a percentage of each students monthly tuition (he quoted us the percentage he wanted).

Would he be considered an employee or an independent contractor? Again, we are in the very beginning stages, and we want to make sure we do everything correct and legal.

Thank you for any information you can give us.

Heather

 

Heather,

You told me 3 things that seem to imply that your band director looks like an independent contractor (IC):
1. He teaches at another business
2. He is setting himself up as a business owner (“planning on incorporating as an LLC”)
3. He is not paid by the hour (“He gets a percentage of each students monthly tuition”).

But there are many other factors to consider, mainly how much control your organization will have over him and his work. I discuss the other factors to consider in my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization

If you determine he is an IC, then I strongly advise you to have a written contract with him and clearly spell out that he is hired as an IC and responsible for his own taxes (i.e. your organization will not be withholding any tax). Have him fill out a W-9 to collect his legal name and Social Security Number (or EIN for his business), too. This is all covered in the Paying Workers book.

I offer a worker classification consultation service to help you determine if your homeschool organization’s workers are employees or independent contractors. The consultation  (by phone) 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.

Good luck to you! I hope the band is a great success.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

 

 

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

Are volunteer teachers in a homeschool co-op allowed to get free or discounted classes? Do they need to claim the amount on their yearly income?

We have independent contractors  who work for our homeschool organization. Are they allowed to get discounted classes instead of getting paid their full amount of payment?

How do we do the paperwork properly?

Mr M.

 

Dear Mr M,

Volunteers are treated differently than your paid independent contractor teachers, so I will respond to each separately.

Volunteers

Volunteers may receive discounts or free classes from your homeschool organization. It is not included in their taxable income, if it is insignificant. It should be understood by everyone that the discount is in appreciation of the volunteer’s efforts and not payment for services. The volunteers should understand that discounts are not guaranteed.

Independent Contractors

Independent Contractors (IC) can receive discounts from their class fees, but the discount needs to be added to their compensation when reported on a 1099MISC. Even if the IC doesn’t receive an 1099MISC from you, the value of the discounted classes should be reported as income on his or her tax return. You may want to explain that in a  letter or include it in your written Independent Contractor agreement.

Can you discount a class in lieu of paying a teacher?

Homeschool organizations should not be offsetting an independent contractor’s payments for her services, which is taxable earned income, by the amount the contractor owes for her child to attend your co-op classes,  which is a personal  expense (i.e. not tax deductible).

I recommend that the teacher should be paid the full amount earned and in a separate transaction, she should pay her tuition to your co-op. I know it seems like extra work and more complicated, but netting or offsetting the two transactions could distort the total amount of compensation the IC needs to report to the IRS. It’s mixing taxable income with a non-tax-deductible personal expense.

Cover Money Mgmt HS OrgFor more information on paying workers and correctly recording transactions in an accounting system, you may find my book, Money Management in a Homeschool Organization, helpful.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Tracking payments to homeschool co-op teachers

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If teachers are paid directly how does the homeschool co-op know about who has paid in order to keep track of payments?

 

It’s very common got homeschool co-ops and tutorial programs to ask parents to pay the teachers directly and not pay through the co-op or homeschool tutorial. This eliminates payroll paperwork and lessens the income and financial transactions flowing through the homeschool organization (and this makes life easier on your treasurer!).

Your homeschool co-op doesn’t need to keep track of which families paid the teachers. It’s the teachers job to get payments from the families.

The teachers are independent contractors and therefore are supposed to bear the burden of the risk of not getting paid. Your co-op should not carry this risk.

The IRS definition of an independent contractor says “Having the possibility of incurring a loss indicates that the worker is an independent contractor.”

Source: https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Financial-Control

I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA