Will a nonprofit owe taxes on income from selling ads?

GirlThrowsMoney
We considering including advertising in our conference brochure. Can we consider this conference (exhibitor) income? Or is it UBI (Unrelated Business Income)?
We are also considering placing advertising in our magazine (and our website). Is this UBI? And how do we track it? And how do we report it? And what percent taxes would we pay on it?
Dorothy in OR
Dear Dorothy,
Advertising revenue is definitely Unrelated Business Income (UBIT) in the eyes of the IRS, because selling ads is not related to your tax exempt purpose (education), but you can avoid paying taxes on the unrelated business income in several ways.

The IRS offers several exceptions to UBI Tax (UBIT):

  1.     A $1,000 threshold allows that the first $1,000 in income from an unrelated business will not be taxed.
  2.     If the fundraiser (or unrelated business) is run substantially by volunteer efforts (i.e., no paid staff) then the proceeds are not taxed.
  3.     If the fundraiser is not regularly carried on, such as a once-a-year spaghetti supper, then the proceeds are not subject to UBIT.
  4.     If you are selling donated items, like in a garage sale, the income raised is not taxed.

I think #1 or #2 will apply to your group, so can get income from advertising without worrying about paying tax on it.

It’s a good idea to create a line item in your record keeping labeled “Advertising Income” so it’s clearly differentiated from other income.

Carol Topp, CPA

Homeschool leader collecting donations without tax exempt status.

PCmakesmoney

Our homeschool group leader just opened a Paypal account and has begun asking for donations. This seems a little weird and as though we need to be a nonprofit if money is collected from members. I referred her to your website, but she believes we have nothing to worry about. Is this true? Should we be a nonprofit if money is involved? How can I help her understand the ramifications of not using your resources?
Randi

Randi,

Thank you for contacting me.

Oh dear, your leader thinks she has nothing to worry about! It’s just not that way anymore!

Whenever an organization collects money from either member dues or donations, the leaders have a fiduciary responsibility for managing that money properly. If they do not manage the money properly or get organized properly with the IRS, the leaders can be held personally liable for any mistakes.

This blog posts explains the fiduciary responsibility of leaders: http://homeschoolcpa.com/what-are-the-legal-responsibilities-of-homeschool-leaders/

An organization cannot accept tax deductible donations unless they have 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS. Most homeschool groups collect membership dues, but those are not “donations” and they should not be called donations.

How can you help your leader be more responsible? Explain that if your group is not properly organized then the money she is accepting will be seen as her taxable income by the IRS and she will have to pay taxes on it!

To get properly organized start by reading a few of my blog posts and articles.

This quick video may help as well: https://youtu.be/FLvfw23z7M0

Good Luck!

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Giving receipts for donations to a homeschool group

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Do we need to offer a written letter or some sort of receipt for donations to our organization?
If we are hosting a parent event and door prizes have been donated, how is that handled?
Do we need for the donor to give us a receipt or some sort of written statement stating the value of an item that has been donated?
Is there a particular format or template for receipts given to donors?
Thanks so much!
Darlene
Darlene,

Yes, you should give a receipt for donations. The IRS Publication 4221-PC p. 26 explains it all. Be sure to include a note about “No goods or services were given in exchange for this donation.”The value of donated goods is determined by the donor, not your organization as the charity. You can give a thank you letter to the donor and fill in a description of the item donated, but not its value.

Sort of like Goodwill does when you drop off stuff. They have a stack of cards at the drop off counter. Goodwill fills in the date, but the value of the donation is filled in by the donor.
No, there are no official donation receipt forms.
Just follow the example of Goodwill or your church.
Carol Topp, CPA

How do I create a budget for my homeschool group?

Bookkeepingpage2

From Marilynn Boyko, of  IHaveMy501c3NowWhat.com (like that URL name?) comes this advice on creating a budget for your nonprofit organization:

Creating a Budget
Budgets should be in place before the beginning of the fiscal year each year, with the past year’s budget closed out.

Each year the board should be the one with the assistance of the Executive Director to create a budget with line-items of expenses and revenues.

Start with Expenses

  • A line item refers to expenses such as facility rental, telephone, program operations, event costs, etc.
  • Each line item has an estimated cost for each quarter which totals up at the end of the year.
    Then each quarter the line-item is examined by the treasurer and the board to compare planned versus actual.
  • Compare what was planned to be spent and what was actually spent. Sometimes what was spent exceeds the allocation and sometimes it doesn’t.
  • When the line item exceeds the amount, money has to be allocated from another line item in order to balance the budget. It is all about balancing the budget and being wise stewards.

Then Plan Your Estimated Revenues

  • Then compare the planned versus actual revenues. Mid-course corrections can be made and adjustments made for each line item.
  • This keeps the board abreast and responsible for the financial health and well-being of the organization, and assists in keeping things real, realistic, and manageable.

 

Cover Money Mgmt HS Org
Need more help with creating a budget for your homeschool organization?

Order a copy of Money Management in a Homeschool Organization. It has sample budgets and tips to make record keeping easy!

 

 

 

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Can a Classical Conversations community be a tax exempt nonprofit?

Classical Conversations logo

 

I am directing a local Classical Conversations group, and many churches in our area
will not consider housing us because we are not a nonprofit. Since I am basically an independent contractor licensed by CC corporate to run a community in my area, am I potentially eligible to have my community declared a nonprofit?

-Jen, Classical Conversations Director

 

Jen,

I recently discussed nonprofit status for CC Communities with Classical Conversations COO, Keith Denton.  He explained to me that “CC Directors (who are licensees of CC) may form an entity through which to run their homeschooling operations.

CC does not require a director to run his/her homeschooling program through an entity, nor does it require that such director choose a specific type of entity (non-profit versus for profit) for its homeschooling community.

CC recommends that all directors consult with an accountant and lawyer when making the decision of whether to form an entity, and what type.  The decision of which entity to form depends on a variety of factors specific to the director and state where the homeschooling community is formed.  As such, consultation with an attorney and accountant in a director’s community is highly recommended to best address all relevant factors. ”

That was very helpful!

I can help you weigh the pros and cons of for profit or nonprofit status for your CC Community. Contact me to schedule a phone consultation.

Carol Topp, CPA

A new nonprofit corporation. Do they need to reapply for 501c3 status?

homeschool nonprofit

Hi Carol,

I have been listening to your podcasts. Our group is already a 501c3 registered charity with the IRS. Unfortunately, we registered with our state as an unincorporated association. We would like the limited liability of a non-profit corporation and have the funds to apply, but after listening to your podcast I have a few questions:

1) Do we need to set up a new bank account? Or just change the set up on our current accounts? We have a Paypal linked, Amazon Smile account, Cash for Our Cause through our bank.

2) Will this affect anything with our IRS account? We won’t have to re-apply for 501c3 status will we?

Thanks for your help!
Misty in Texas

 

Misty,

I hope some of my podcasts were helpful! Thanks for listening.

Bad news: You need a new EIN and must reapply for tax exempt status

If your organization now wishes to become a nonprofit corporation (and I highly recommend it), you will have to get a new Employer Identification Number (EIN) and re-apply for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in the name of your new corporation with its new EIN.

When you create a corporation, it is a new legal entity. So the IRS wants you to get a new EIN and makes you go through the 501(c)(3) application process again. Bummer.

Here’s a recent blog post on that issue: http://homeschoolcpa.com/incorporated-in-your-state-time-for-a-new-ein/

Good News: It’s easier to apply for 501(c)(3) status

Fortunately, the IRS does have a new short application for 501(c)(3) status, Form 1023-EZ. I have assisted about 25 nonprofit organizations get tax exempt status the new Form 1023-EZ. Some have received their tax exempt status in 10 days. That’s much faster than the 3 to 13 months in the past! Contact me if you’d like my help in applying (or reapplying) for tax exempt status.

The bank should make you open a new bank account with the new EIN. Paypal, Amazon Smile, etc. probably don’t care about your new corporate status, but you will need to re-connect them to your new bank account.

Carol Topp, CPA

Incorporated in your state? Time for a new EIN!

IRS

I just updated my article on “Getting an EIN from the IRS”  (on my Articles page) because my original article neglected to mention that your organization needs a new EIN after you incorporate as a nonprofit corporation in your state.

Here’s what I added:

If your group became a nonprofit corporation in your state, then you need a new EIN from the IRS in the name of the new corporation. A corporation is a new legal entity and you need a new EIN to match it. Use the same name as you used when incorporating. Look on the certificate you received from your state for your official legal name.

Read the full, updated article here: Getting and EIN from the IRS 

 

Cover Money Mgmt HS OrgIf you have questions about applying for an EIN or the Form SS-4, read the chapter on “Checking Accounts Done Right” in my book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization

 

If you have questions about setting up or running your homeschool organization, visit HomeschoolCPA.com or consider a private phone consultation with me.

 

 

Common mistakes in homeschool group bylaws

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Nonprofit attorneys at Veneable LLP posted 15 Most Common Nonprofit Bylaw Pitfalls: How to Avoid the Traps

I adapted their suggestions (all excellent if you want to read their entire list) for homeschool organizations and added some of my own tips as well.

Common Nonprofit Bylaw Pitfalls

1. Understand your state’s nonprofit corporation law.

Veneable LLP advises, “Nonprofits need to be sure that their bylaws do not permit practices that are prohibited by the state nonprofit corporation act.”  It’s not a lot of fun reading state corporation laws (I’m read several of them!), so this is where a pro bono lawyer would come in handy. Ask  your members if anyone has a lawyer in the family who would be willing to check your bylaws against state nonprofit corporation laws.

2. Make sure your bylaws are consistent with other regulatory documents.

If your homeschool group is an educational organization (and most are!), make sure your bylaws do not contradict IRS requirements for 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations. There are certain things the IRS prohibits 501 (c)(3) organizations from doing such as distributing its assets to members. Read the IRS prohibitions .

3. Be sure to address all foreseeable scenarios.

What if you need to remove a board member? Do the bylaws address that? How will the board member be replaced? Try to think of how things could go wrong or how a  group of disgruntled members could take over your organization. Veneable LLP is correct is stating, “It is important to take the time to carefully walk through all of the “what-if” scenarios to avoid holes in the bylaws.”

4. Keep your bylaws flexible.

From the attorneys at Veneable LLP, “Building flexibility into the bylaws including a range for the exact number of board members and allowing the board to designate additional officers not named in the bylaws, can help the organization moving forward. Bylaws should provide an outline of the governance structure but also should allow some flexibility if and when changes are needed in the future. ”

5. Reserve the details for policies, not bylaws.

“Bylaws generally should be a relatively concise and easy-to-navigate document, leaving the details to policies, which can be more easily revised in the future. This way, bylaws will not need regular amendment.” advise Veneable LLP. Frequently homeschool organizations have policies on sick children, membership requirements, dress codes, late payments, student conduct, etc. These do not belong in the bylaws, but in separate policies.

6. Keep your bylaws current.

One homeschool group used bylaws that mentioned notice of meetings could be delivered by telegraph! Time to update those bylaws! 🙂

7. Ensure that your purposes clause reflects your organization today.

Veneable LLP advises, “Most nonprofits also have a purposes clause contained near the beginning of their bylaws, and many times that purposes clause will differ from the purposes clause in the articles of incorporation. The two clauses should be fully consistent and, therefore, an organization might want to include a clause in the bylaws which simply refers to the purposes clause as written in the articles of incorporation. In addition, the purposes clause in the articles of incorporation should be reviewed, keeping in mind that a clause drafted 30 or more years ago may not accurately or fully reflect your organization today.”

An example would be for faith-based homeschool organizations to be very clear that they have a religious purpose, so that their religious freedoms are protected. If your religious purpose is not clear in your Articles of Incorporation, then it’s time to amend your Articles. This is usually done through your Secretary of State’s office.

8. Closely review the meeting and voting procedures for members and directors.

Review how members (if there are voting members) and directors are permitted to meet and vote. Many homeschool organizations do not have voting members; the board makes all the decisions. In this situation, it’s important to be very clear in the bylaws how the board is chosen.

9. Do not make your bylaws too difficult to amend.

Occasionally your bylaws may need an update. Usually bylaws require a super majority of 2/3 or 3/4 of the board to change the bylaws. One homeschool group found that their bylaws required a meeting of members with two week notice before they could change their bylaws. This was quite difficult to accomplish in the summer and slowed down their ability to make necessary changes.

I hope you find these tips on bylaws helpful. Take time for your board to review your bylaws (hopefully you can find them!) and update them as needed. If you don’t have bylaws, you can start with my sample bylaws  or do an internet search on “homeschool bylaws.”

Carol Topp, CPA

Serving on a nonprofit board: What is required?

BoardRoom2

I think we have 3 people willing to be on the board. Their main question is time commitment. I have no idea what to tell them. Do you have any support materials to help leaders judge this?

Jennifer in North Carolina

Jennifer,

Board commitment can vary a lot. Some homeschool organizations need everyone to pitch in on co-op day, but the board may only meet once a month for 1-2 hour long meetings.

The more important issue is that potential board members consider their duties as board members.

Each board member has a fiduciary (i.e. legal) duty to manage the organization and its funds within the purpose/mission of the organization and not for private gain or benefit. The board’s job is to govern the organization, be responsible for the management of funds, and be responsible for its programs.

From Ohio Attorney General Guide for Charity Board Members comes this excellent list of the duties of board members (with my comments and links added).

Duty of Care

  • Read and understand mission, vision, and governing documents. I recommend a board binder for important documents.
  • Attend board and committee meetings.
  • Be informed and prepared to participate in decision-making and oversight.
  • Exercise same care as a prudent person would in the handling of their own affairs.

Duty of Loyalty

  • Be prepared to put organizational objectives above self-interest.
  • Establish and follow written policies concerning conflict of interest situations.
  • Disclose personal financial interests when needed/excuse yourself from voting. See a sample Conflict of Interest policy.
  • Avoid entering into business relationships between board members and the organization.

Duty of Management

  • Develop policies that assure the financial responsibility of the organization. Get my list of best practices when you sign up for HomeschoolCPA’s email list.
  • Keep accurate and complete records of income, expenses, investments, and minutes.
  • Develop budget as a blueprint for program plans and all organizational spending. My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization can help you create a budget.
  • Develop fundraising goals and assist the organization in acquiring adequate resources.

Duty of Compliance

  • Understand and comply with governing documents, including bylaws and code of conduct. Sample bylaws.
  • Know and comply with state and federal laws governing non-profit organizations, including registration and reporting requirements. If you’re unsure about what your filings requirements are, contact me and we can discuss it. My book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization, will also be helpful.

I hope this list of duties doesn’t scare away your potential board members! I have found that serving on a nonprofit board has been one of the most rewarding things I have done.

Carol Topp, CPA

 

“Is my idea a homeschool co-op or not?”

kidz00a

 

Hi Carol,

I would like to start a homeschool support or enrichment group. I have a large home on 1/2 acre that is perfectly suited for a co-op or school type gathering place for homeschoolers and unschoolers. I would like to offer all inclusive art, drama, stretching and balance, cooking, gardening classes and help with school work. Hours would be Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m. with children able to come and leave at their own schedule.

I would like to offer part time or full time based on the families needs. I would like to charge a monthly fee of around $200/month per child and less for part time. Could you please tell me if this is legal and if there is a cap on the number of children I could have in my home? If my idea sound like it is covered in your book I would be happy to buy it, I am not sure if this is a co-op?

Would I need to file anything or get a license or could I just advertise and start. Any help you could give would be great because I can’t seem to find any info on my particular idea, and I would love to use your services if they could apply to my situation

Thank You!
Heather M in California

 

Heather,

You have a pretty neat idea!

What you need to decide is if you’re going to run this as a business with you as owner (since you are using your property) or if you want it to set up a nonprofit organization (a homeschool co-op).  No one “owns” the co-op; you may help lead it with others and you can offer (or rent) your space to the organization.

Your specific questions on the maximum number of children and licensing are California specific and I cannot answer them. And they probably apply more to for-profit school/daycare than a nonprofit association (i.e a gathering of moms and kids).

In my opinion, if the parents stay on the premises and help out, you have a co-op and fewer regulations because you are a gathering of moms and kids and not a “school.” And my book, Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out would be extremely helpful.

My advice is to start small and learn as you go. For example, start with one or two classes, one day a week, but not Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm. Make the full time operation your goal after a year or two. After a year of running your program, you’ll know if you should get licensed, operate as nonprofit or for-profit business.

Carol Topp, CPA