Are violin lessons and ballet classes tax deductions?

Hi Carol, I just discovered your great website.
I pay several people for private instruction for my child: violin lessons by a private teacher, gymnastics, ballet in a nonprofit ballet school.
Can I send a 1099-MISC to any of these people or organizations?
I’d like to keep my tax liability as low as possible.
Thanks for any guidance you can provide.
Kimberly

Kimberly,

The Form 1099-MISC is to be given to a person who provide services to your trade or business. You do not give 1099-MISC to people you hire for your personal expenses (violin lessons for your children, etc).

Here’s what the IRS website says:

  • Report payments made in the course of a trade or business to a person who is not an employee or to an unincorporated business. (my emphasis added)
  • Report payments of $10 or more in gross royalties or $600 or more in rents or compensation. Report payment information to the IRS and the person or business that received the payment.

Your personal expenses (violin lessons, gymnastics, ballet) are not tax deductible expenses.

I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

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How to account for a surplus in your nonprofit records

Female hand counting money on computer keyboard calculator.

 Does your homeschool organization end the year with a surplus? Congratulations! Now, how do you record that surplus in your bookkeeping.
Currently we are carrying money over into this year from last year. This money doesn’t have a name, we have it on a line that says, “Balance Carried Forward from 2015-2016” in our income column. Should this be called “Starting Balance,” or should this be named something else?
In our next two budget years, we will have a surplus. We are unsure what to call this surplus money. We do have a reserve fund already set up in  our budget; would this be the place to put the surplus money and then carry that reserve fund over to the income/expense section year to year?
Thank you so much for all your help!!
Heidi R in PA

Heidi,

You’ve hit on something very basic in accounting: how to account for accumulated money (aka a surplus).

The surplus is not income for the year so it should not be added to your other sources of income. The surplus is really an asset. It is cash sitting in your checking account.

Accountants created a special financial statement called a Balance Sheet to list the assets and liabilities. For nonprofits, it’s called a Statement of Financial Position, which I like better as a name.

stmtfinlposition

I recommend you create a mini balance sheet/Statement of Financial Position to the side of your income and expenses statement. Put the bank balance as of a certain date. List any liabilities (debts you owe) too. Make a note of the cash in the bank that is set aside as your reserve fund.

Your reserve fund is not an expense. It is an asset (cash in the bank). It should be mentioned in a note on the Statement of Financial Position as a reminder to your board that although the money is in the bank, it’s not supposed to be spent.  It’s held in reserve for emergencies.

Cover Money Mgmt HS Org

I give examples of financial statements including the Statement of Financial Position in Chapter 4 of Money Management in a Homeschool Organization

I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping homeschool leaders

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Use Quickbooks online for free

I encourage my nonprofit clients to use QuickBooks online (or other online accounting software) and now qualified nonprofits can use QuickBooks online for FREE!

TechSoup, a charity that arranges free or discounted software for nonprofit organizations, offers

One year subscription to Quickbooks online for up to 5 users.

Do this NOW!

If you manage bring in than $20,000 in revenues per year I recommend you start using accounting software. If you have more than $50,000 in revenues in a year I HIGHLY recommend you start using accounting software and Quickbooks online is an excellent choice.

Make it a New Years resolution for 2017 to start using accounting software and be a better money manager of your homeschool organizations finances.

Lots of homeschool parents are depending on you to run your organization successfully.

The advantages are huge:

  • Multi-user so you don’t overburden one person with all the record keeping. Even a bookkeeper or CPA (like me) can log in remotely (with your permission).
  • Online backup so nothing is lost.
  • Email invoices so you can easily track who still owes you.
  • Create reports that show how much money has been spent.

Help is available

Are you afraid of accounting software? It can be complicated, but Tech soup offers some helpful videos.

Or if you prefer more personal help I can recommend some homeschool moms and dads with accounting and bookkeeping experience who can help you. They know QuickBooks and have experience with homeschool organizations. These wonderful bookkeepers can help you get setup (that’s the hardest part), do a monthly or quarterly check up to see if you’re using the software correctly, and answer questions you have.

Email me to get a recommendation of a homeschool-friendly QuickBooks expert.


There are a few catches to TechSoup’s free program:

  • You need to be a qualified nonprofit organization, that means nonprofits with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.
  • You need to re-subscribe each year, but the renewal fee is free.

What have you got to lose?

If you don’t take advantage of this offer please tell me why in the comments or email me. I want to understand your concerns or obstacles.

Carol Topp, CPA

 

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Can homeschool teachers be allowed to keep extra money as a donation?

Dollarsinhand

Dear Carol,

I have purchased and am reading your ebook Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization. Thank you for making this available!

We are a co-operative, so all are teachers are basically volunteers. I do, however, collect on their behalf an estimated class contribution to help them cover costs related to teaching: curriculum, printing handouts and lesson plans, consumables used in class etc. This amount is determined by the teacher, usually $5-10 up to $50 per semester depending on the class. These funds are collected and then dispersed to the instructor at the beginning of the semester. We don’t require receipts or an accounting to be submitted. Any remaining funds are considered a “donation” to the teacher to recognize their time and effort in preparing and teaching the class. Teachers are not required refund monies back to the families.

Most of us feel that this structure is reasonable. However, one member is questioning. Does our policy seem acceptable from a legal position?

Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to answer my questions.

God bless your service,
Rose

Rose,

Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad the book was helpful. It’s been updated since you read it and has grown from a 20 page ebook, to a 130-page paperback.

This statement bothers me greatly, “We don’t require receipts or an accounting to be submitted. Any remaining funds are considered a “donation” to the teacher to recognize their time and effort in preparing and teaching the class.”

When you do not request receipts, you are running what the IRS calls an “non-accountable” plan for reimbursements.

The remaining funds that you let your teachers keep is not a donation, it is a payment for services and is taxable income that needs to be reported to the IRS. Actually, the full amount you give to the teachers is taxable income under a non-accountable plan.

I have written a few blog posts on the topic of paying volunteers, requesting receipts for reimbursements, etc. Please read these:

No receipts for expenses can get you in trouble
and
Should my homeschool co-op be giving any tax forms to our teachers?

In my book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization I discuss how to properly set up an accountable reimbursement plan (Chapter 7).

I hope you will change your practices (i.e set up an accountable plan for reimbursements and start requiring receipts) so that your teachers do not have to report their payments as taxable income.

You may also find my updated version of Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization helpful.

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

BuyPaperbackButton

 

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Homeschool groups ripe for embezzlement

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From the Columbus (OH) Dispatch comes this warning:

Small nonprofits ripe for embezzlement

They’re often diligent, caring workers, and yet tempted by seemingly easy cash.

Working on the inside, thieves can hit school groups, athletic leagues and churches, especially when they’re surrounded by trusting colleagues and loose security.

And according to one expert, because of the disgrace and embarrassment that the crime brings an organization, their transgressions often are not reported.

The median loss to fraud for religious, charitable and social-service organizations was $106,000 last year, according to an annual survey by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. “We estimate that organizations lose about 7% of their net worth to fraud each year,” said Scott Patterson, the association’s spokesman.

“There are so many people doing the good work that nobody steps back to say, ‘Should we begin looking at ourselves. We’ve grown. We better put some checks and balances in,'” said Gary Zeune, a fraud expert whose speakers bureau, “The Pros and Cons,” travels the country. “The only people who can steal you blind are those you trust and who don’t have controls.”

Smaller organizations, such as school parent-teacher organizations, are often vulnerable because neighbors and friends are reluctant to offend by suggesting that dishonesty is possible.

“This is typically mothers stealing from their own kids,” Shaw said. “The kids are the shills out there selling cookie dough or doing the walk-a-thon, and the mothers are stealing it.

“If the board is too embarrassed to have checks or balances, they need to have a new board,” she added. “But if you’re an honest person, you shouldn’t be insulted by having a second set of eyes.”

It’s so sad to hear about embezzlement taking place in homeschool groups, but I know from homeschool leaders that it can and does happen!

How can you prevent embezzlement?

Money Mgmt Homeschool

Read Money Management in a Homeschool Organization: A Guide for Treasurers. It  has a helpful list of policies and procedures for your group’s treasurer and your entire board.

Keeping you safe,

Carol Topp, CPA

Teaching Teenagers and Recent Grads About Money (podcast)

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My latest podcast episode is part 2 of a presentation on how to teach kids about managing money. I explain the important lessons to teach high school students and young adults.

Listen here.

This Handout lists helpful resources for teaching teenagers about managing money.

 

This is part 2 of a two-part presentation. Listen to Part 1 .

You might be interested in my 4-part podcast series in teaching kids about money:

Episode 7: Teach Preschoolers About Money

Episode 8: Teach Kids About Money

Episode 9: Teach Pre-Teens About Money

Episode 10: Teach Teenagers About Money

 

Career Cover-100px

My newest book Career Exploration for Homeschool High School Students is available in print and ebook format. Learn more.

QuickBooks for free to nonprofits

 

Read on update to this offer here.

I recommend you use online accounting software instead of  a desktop version. QuickBooks Online is available for free to qualified 501c3 nonprofit organizations.


Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks, the grand-daddy of accounting software, is offering its 2015 Premiere Nonprofit software package for free* to qualifying nonprofit organizations.

*A $45 Administration fee will be charged, but that’s pretty cheap. QB nonprofit sells for $250+

If eligible, your organization may receive one accounting product per fiscal year (July 1 to June 30).

Consult the eligibility and restrictions page to review your organization’s eligibility to participate in this program.

  • Donated product will be distributed under this program to qualifying organizations only, not to individuals.
  • Organizations may request one accounting product per fiscal year (July 1 to June 30).
  • Only organizations with an annual operating budget of less than $10 million are eligible to receive this donation.
  • This donation is available only to nonprofits with 501(c)(3) designation and to public libraries.

Get your copy of QuickBooks here: http://www.techsoup.org/intuit

 

Cover Money Mgmt HS OrgThe new year is a great time to start using accounting software.

If you need help with record keeping, consult my book, Money Management in a Homeschool Organization

Also consider QuickBooks training with me, Carol Topp. I can set up your Chart of Accounts and walk you through how to send invoices, enter expenses, make deposits and run reports. Contact Carol

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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Could you please give me a minute (and review my books)?

3Homeschoolbooks

Have you benefited from reading any of my books?

Did Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out make starting co-op a little easier?

Did the information in The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization get your organization tax exempt status?

Have you read through the list of practices to avoid embezzlement in Money Management in a Homeschool Organization? (yes, unfortunately, homeschool groups can be a victim of theft)

Could you please leave a short blurb on Amazon? It doesn’t have to be long. Just a sentence saying something like:

Really helpful!

Clear and easy to understand.

Essential for running a homeschool organization.

Here’s the links to make it easy for you.

Homeschool Co-ops book the original edition had 16 reviews, but this new edition has only 5 reviews :(. It needs a boost.

IRS and Your Homeschool Organization book (This book has zero reviews! I really need your help here!)

Money Management in a Homeschool Organization book (This book has zero reviews, too! It really needs some!)

I appreciate your time and effort!

Thank you!

Carol Topp

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

BoyScout

 

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

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

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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.