We don’t want 501c3 status. Should we still include the IRS language in the Articles?

We recently formed a non-profit in Texas but do not want to file for 501c3 tax exempt status.  When we created our bylaws your site was very helpful to us.  I thought I read somewhere on your site that it is better to include the IRS 501c3 verbiage from the beginning so that if we ever decided to do that, it would already be included.

I now can not find where I thought I read that.

Do we need to include it anyway or should it be left out if we have no plans on filing 501c3?

Thanks so much,
Cathy

 

Cathy,

The IRS requires their specific language to be included in your “organizing documents.” That’s usually the Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Association if your group is not a nonprofit corporation.

This requirement is found in the IRS Instructions to the Form 1203 Application for Tax exempt Status and IRS Pub 557 Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization (p. 22)

If you have no plans to request tax exemption as a 501(c)(3) charitable or educational organization, then your Articles of Incorporation do not have to include the IRS required language.

 

But, being a CPA, I always think about money and taxes, so I will warn you that without 501 tax exempt status of some kind (501c3 or c4 or c7), your organization must be filing a corporate income tax return, IRS Form 1120, every year and paying  federal taxes on any surplus you had that year. Texas may have a corporate or franchise tax as well.

By the way, that Form 1120 can be pretty complex. You’ll probably need professional help from a CPA to prepare it. You have to prepare and submit this form every year even if you didn’t have any profit! The Form 1120 shows the IRS that you didn’t have any profit!

So, you might want to reconsider your decision not to apply for tax exempt status.

I’m happy to discuss the pros and cons of tax exempt status with your board. Contact me.

 

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Should your homeschool Director serve as a board member?

Sometimes a homeschool groups gets large enough that they want to hire or pay their Director. In nonprofits that position is usually called the Executive Director or even Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

It is usually the first paid position in a nonprofit.

The Executive Director is similar to a pastor at a church. He (or she, depending on your denomination) is hired by the board of the church and does a lot of the day-to-day running of the church.

It’s similar in a homeschool nonprofit: the paid director is hired by the board to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization.

But should that hired Director serve on your board?

BoardSource (an excellent website for help in running your nonprofit board) says., ”

BoardSource also recommends nonvoting status for chief executives, unless not permitted by law. We embrace nonvoting status in recognition of the fact that actual or perceived conflicts of interest may naturally come along with the pairing of this position with board member status.

 

I, too, like the idea of a paid Director serving as a nonvoting board member.

I’ve seen it work well on some boards to have the Director attend meetings, give a report, share her opinion, etc, but not be allowed a vote.

When I served on my church’s board of trustees, the pastor came to the meeting, gave a report, was free to voice an opinion, but had no vote. That way he avoided a conflict of interest.

The paid Director should not vote because she has a conflict of interest: Is she thinking of the good of the group first and foremost or is she thinking about her job and her paycheck?

The volunteer Director does not have that conflict of interest, so he or she is usually still given voting rights.

If you decide to pay your Director:

  • Make sure you update your bylaws
  • Adopt a Conflict of Interest policy.
  • Read about paying people in your homeschool organization.

Need help with those issues?

 

My book, Homeschool Organization Board Manual can help with:

  • Sample Conflict of Interest policies
  • Sample Bylaws
  • Board descriptions
  • Compensation and Benefits for Board Members

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

 

 

Board member of a homeschool nonprofit feeling vulnerable!

I’m the president of a homeschool co-op. Am I personally liable if someone were to sue or come after the co-op? I already feel slightly vulnerable in this area as the president and having my signature on our building contract, etc.

Danielle,

Danielle,

As president your are an officer of our nonprofit organization and as an officer there are certain responsibilities that you carry more so than other board members and certainly more so than the co-op’s family participants.

With the authority comes responsibility.

But responsibility does not automatically mean personal liability, if you do your fiduciary duties and do not commit acts of gross negligence or fraud.

What are those fiduciary duties?

Duty of Care, Duty of Loyalty, Duty of Management and Duty of Compliance

To better understand these duties as board members and do them here’s some help:

A prudent board member can reduce the risk of lawsuits by understanding the duties and

  • incorporating as a nonprofit
  • obeying the bylaws and laws in general
  • carrying insurance
  • being educated on nonprofit duties and risk

To get educated, there are some excellent resources online for nonprofit boards like these:

Each of these websites have excellent resources to help you run your nonprofit.
Ultimately, feeling slightly vulnerable will probably force you to manage risk, do your duties, and run the organization properly, so that’s a good thing!
In other words, it keeps you on your toes to feel the weight of responsibility!
Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Should your homeschool group be collecting sales tax?

Sales tax. Ugh!! As if dealing with the IRS and income tax isn’t enough of a headache, your homeschool organization might need to be collecting and paying sales tax as well!

From the Church Law and Tax blog comes some helpful information about sales tax that applies to homeschool organizations.

Sales taxes are collected in 44 states. Each state has a different sales tax statute and exempts certain types of purchasers from the payment of sales tax.

Some states exempt any organization with 501(c)(3) status from paying sales tax on purchases. Other states offer limited sales tax exemptions.

Collecting Sales Tax

But I’m not talking about paying sales tax when you buy stuff like paper towels or microscopes.

I’m talking about when your homeschool group sells stuff (aka tangible personal property).

What kind of stuff? How about:

  • Text books (some states exempt textbooks form sales tax.)
  • Tickets to drama performances (yes, some states add sales tax to ticket sales!!)
  • Food sales (in some states food sales, especially snack foods and soft drinks are sales-taxable)
  • T shirts, even if they are a fundraiser!

The rules for when an organization is exempt from collecting sales tax are different form the rules about paying sales tax.

Most states do not exempt churches from collecting sales tax on taxable transactions. As a result, a church that conducts taxable transactions is required to have a sales tax permit.

Most states have a nuisance exception to the requirement of having a sales tax permit, which allows churches to have taxable sales a couple of days a year without the requirement of collecting sales tax. Since every state is different, you should check with your state revenue department. (Source: https://www.churchlawandtax.com/web/2008/september/exceptions-to-exemption.html)

 

For example: In Ohio a homeschool co-op with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status can buy things (like books, supplies, etc) without paying sales tax.

But Ohio only allows nonprofits 5 days a year to hold sales without collecting sales tax. It’s kind of like they are saying, “use those 5 days wisely…you only get 5 sales-tax free days to sell stuff each year!” So maybe the co-op wants to have a big fundraising event and sell items. That’s one of the 5 days they can sell items and not have to collect sales tax.

 

Sales Tax on Fundraiser Sales

You may be thinking your homeschool group can avoid collecting sales tax because you only sell things as part of a fundraiser. Sorry, bed news…

Virtually any form of fundraiser that involves the sale of a product will also require the collection of sales tax. (Source: https://www.churchlawandtax.com/web/2008/september/exceptions-to-exemption.html)

Sales Tax Laws vary by State

Each state has different rules about how and what they apply sales tax to and what organizations can be exempt from collecting sales tax.

It will take some detective work to figure out what your state’s rules are! It’s one of the headaches of living in a country with 50 states (and Washington DC!).

How to Get Help

  • Start with your state’s department of revenue website. Look for words like “sales tax” and then “exemptions” Then look for words like “nonprofit” and “exemption.” Happy reading. The states don’t make it easy to find the exceptions to taxes!
  • Google “Sales tax exemption nonprofit YOUR STATE” and start hunting.
  • I find TaxJar.com and Avalara.com are two helpful websites with information on sales tax.
  • Contact me, Carol Topp, CPA. I’ve done the detective work for several states (about 30) and can sometimes help you or at least point you in the right direction. I charge a fee for this research of $50.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Should a Classical Conversations Director be an LLC?

I am a CC director. I am not sure what is the best option when it comes to register our community. A LLC or as a Sole Proprietor? Thank you so much for your help.

Maria

 

Maria,

By default, if you are the only owner of your business, you are a sole proprietor. You could consider adding LLC status to your sole proprietorship business if you want the limited liability protections that LLC status offers.

The reason that most businesses use the LLC structure is for limited liability. That means the liability is limited to your business and its assets and not your personal assets. I organized my own sole proprietorship accounting practice as an LLC  because I wanted limited liability and protection of my personal assets. LLC status can be added to your sole proprietorship business at any time. I ran my accounting business for 3 years and then added LLC status.

I recommend that you read up on LLC status, how to get it, maintain it (there are things you should do like not co-mingle funds and sign contracts in the name of the LLC, etc) , and what is required in your state regarding fees and reports. Some states charge a one-time fee, some charge a yearly fee and annual reports.

 

Since this is a website mainly for homeschool nonprofit organizations, I will add this note: For a nonprofit organization, such as most homeschool groups, I typically do not recommend LLC status since nonprofit corporation status in your state brings similar protections of limited liability. 

Here is a podcast episode where I discuss Should Your Homeschool Group Be An LLC?

 

But Maria is asking about LLC status for her for-profit business, not a nonprofit organization, and my advice to her may be very different from my advice to a nonprofit organization.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

I am not an attorney, nor am I offering legal advice. I recommend that you seek legal counsel if you have additional questions about Limited Liability Company status.

 

Holding a fundraiser to pay for homeschool curriculum

Photo credit TheMagicOnions.com

 

I homeschool my 3 children and 3 children of another family. As a project, we learned how to create a school website and as a idea to raise money for curriculum, supplies and hopefully a field trip or two. We’re in NC and also considered a private school.

We thought of an idea to sell Fairy Gardens that we personally make and accept donations on our website. Am I breaking any laws by not being registered as a business or non profit? 100% of profits will be spent on the school, but it goes to my own PayPal account and I state on the website that receipts for the donation being spent on the school and states that the donations are not tax deductible.

It dawned on me that it might not be allowed to do this without some kind of permit. I’m not sure though because I would be allowed to make fairy gardens and sell at a yard sale, so is it different if I sold them online?

Also, can I be a non-profit since I homeschool the children of two families and not just my own? I would greatly appreciate your feedback on this and thank you so much for all of the knowledgeable information you’ve shared on your site!

Best wishes,

April in North Carolina

 

 

April,
You and the other family are not a nonprofit organization, even if North Carolina classifies your homeschool as a private school. Private school  only means you are not funded with public (i.e. government) funds. It does not make you or your business a nonprofit organization. (BTW, some private schools are for-profit businesses.)

In order to be a tax exempt nonprofit, the IRS says you must be operated and organized as a nonprofit.

A tax exempt nonprofit organization “must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests” (Source: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/exemption-requirements-section-501c3-organizations).

So benefiting only you and the other family is “private interests” and not serving a public good, therefore you cannot be a nonprofit organization with only two families getting all the benefits.

Your fairy garden business is NOT a nonprofit. It is a business, probably a micro business. Stop calling your sales “donations.” They are simply sales of products (fairy gardens in your case) by a business.

You probably need to register in North Carolina as a business and probably get a vendors license to collect and pay sales tax.
Better start googling “Start a small business in North Carolina.”

 

My books Micro Business for Teens could help your children start this as their business (not yours) and learn a lot too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, your comment about selling your products at a yard sale is not quite correct. You can sell fairy gardens at a yard sale, but then you’re running a business and the profit is taxable. In yard sales, you are generally selling household items you bought over many years and used personally and selling them for less than you paid for them. But that’s not true for your fairy gardens. You did not use them personally and you are selling them at a profit, so it’s a business and you should register it and apply for a vendor’s license.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Small charity grows and gets audited by the IRS for it!

A fellow CPA told me the story of what happened to a small charity.

The small charity thought they were eligible to file the new, easy, short IRS Form 1023-EZ to apply for 501c3 status.

Organizations can use the shorter, cheaper, online Form 1023-EZ if their annual gross revenues are less than $50,000/year and expect to be less than $50,000 for the next 3 years.

So off went the Form 1023-EZ application and the charity was granted 501c3 tax exempt status!

Then they held a fundraiser (or several fundraisers) that were successful beyond their dreams and their total revenue was OVER $50,000 in their second and third year. They filed (correctly) their annual information returns, Form 990-EZ, to report all their income and expenses.

That’s when they got a letter from the IRS.

The IRS was auditing them because the IRS claimed the charity should have filed the longer, more expensive, full Form 1023 when they applied because their annual revenues were more than $50,000/year. And the IRS was right, in hindsight.

The IRS auditor asked for:

  • The full application to be completed (its 26 pages!) along with copies of
  • Bylaws
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Financial statements for 5 years
  • A narrative explaining the activities of the organization
  • Minutes of meetings

That last requirement surprised me because the Form 1023 application doesn’t ask for minutes of meetings, but the IRS auditor did.

Fortunately this group had those minutes and with the help of their CPA, passed the audit!

Lessons learned:

  • Keep minutes of your meetings.
  • Have all your documents ready in case the IRS asks to see them.
  • If you are close to the $50,000 annual gross revenues threshold and think you could exceed it in your first 3 years, use the full length Form 1023 application form when applying for 501c3 tax exempt status.

 

 

Have more questions about the IRS, 501c3 tax exempt status, and your nonprofit?

Carol Topp’s book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization can help!

  • The benefits of 501(c)(3) status
  • The disadvantages too!
  • What it takes to make the IRS happy
  • What your state requires
  • Why your organization should consider becoming a nonprofit corporation
  • What is the difference between nonprofit incorporation and tax exemption
  • IRS requirements after you are tax exempt

Order here.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Nonprofit Incorporation for Your Homeschool Co-op

 

Should your homeschool co-op be a nonprofit corporation?

This podcast is an excerpt from a workshop titled Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out.

In this short podcast episode (12 minutes) Carol Topp, CPA explains the benefits of forming your homeschool co-op as a nonprofit corporation and why a leader would want limited liability protection.

 

In the podcast Carol mentioned other podcast episodes in this series. Find them (#121-125) at HomeschoolCPA.com/Podcast

 

Featured resource

The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization

Does your homeschool group need to pay taxes?  Could they avoid paying taxes by being a 501c3 tax exempt organization? Do you know the pros and cons of 501c3 status? Do you know what 501c3 status could mean for your homeschool group?  I have the answers for you in my book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization. The information I share in my book has been helpful to homeschool support groups, co-ops, music and sports groups and will help you understand:

  • The benefits of 501c3 status
  • The disadvantages too!
  • What it takes to make the IRS happy
  • What your state requires
  • Why your organization should consider becoming a nonprofit corporation
  • What is the difference between nonprofit incorporation and tax exemption
  • IRS requirements after you are tax exempt

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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Using QuickBooks Online for small nonprofits & churches

 

Here are some helpful books written by Lisa London, CPA from The Accountant Beside You, if you are using QuickBooks in your homeschool nonprofit organization.

Using QuickBooks Online for Small Nonprofits & Churches

is for users of QuickBooks Online. I recommend  QuickBooks online so that several people can log into the record keeping system including a bookkeeper, board members, the Treasurer and an outside accountant. i wish all my larger homeschool clients would use QuickBooks online.

http://accountantbesideyou.com/using-qbo-for-small-nonprofits-churches/

 

 

If you use the desktop version of QuickBooks, there’s a different book for you.

Using QuickBooks For Nonprofit Organizations, Associations & Clubs

http://accountantbesideyou.com/using-quickbooks-for-nonprofit-organizations-associations-clubs-paperback/

 

Lisa London, CPA from The Accountant Beside You, also offers classes on QuickBooks which some people prefer to reading books.

Carol Topp, CPA

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Paypal sent homeschool leader a 1099-K. Is it taxable income to her?

 

Our homeschool co-op leader set up a Paypal account to collect payments from our parents. She was very surprised when Paypal sent her a 1099-K for $40,000 with her name on it! Does she have to report this on her tax return even though it was for the co-op?

 

Oh dear. It appears that leader used her personal name and Social Security Number when setting up the Paypal account. She also used her name and SSN when setting up a checking account. This is not good!

This group was in the process of forming  as a nonprofit corporation in her state, getting an EIN for the corporation, and then applying for tax exempt status with the IRS. But the parents starting paying before all the paperwork was completed so the leader simply set up a personal Paypal account. It’s easy to set up a Paypal account (I have 3 Paypal accounts myself). But now she has a tax mess on her hands!

She should have filed as a nonprofit corporation, gotten an EIN and then set up the PayPal account in the name of the new nonprofit corporation with their new EIN. Then the 1099-K would have come to the homeschool group, not her personally.

But that’s water under the bridge.

In the eyes of Paypal and the IRS, the leader has started a business, collected money, and now needs to report that on her income tax return. Ugh!

She should file a Schedule C Business Income on her personal Form 1040 and report the Paypal income as Gross Receipts. At this point the leader should contact me or a local CPA for assistance in preparing her tax return. This is not the year for DIY! She does not want an IRS audit!

Additionally, she needs to set up this homeschool organization properly with nonprofit corporation, getting an EIN, and then applying for tax exempt status with the IRS, ASAP! I can help with that.

Download my list of steps to take to set up a nonprofit homeschool organization.

 

Please homeschool leaders, do not set up Paypal accounts, bank accounts or EINs in your personal name. Establish an organization and conduct business in the organization’s name only. Otherwise, you may face a complicated tax issue like this poor leaders.

Carol Topp, CPA