IRS amnestry program for employers (how to avoid penalties for paying workers as Independent Contractors)

You may have heard about the IRS crackdown on misclassifying workers and the penalties that your business or homeschool program could face if  your business is audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For a true but sad story about the Landry Academy read this.

What can you do to avoid the IRS penalties?

The IRs has a program called the Voluntary Classification Settlement program (VCSP) .

Eva Rosenberg, the Tax Mama, explains the IRS Voluntary Classification Settlement Program in plain, clear English. Just the way your mama would talk to you.

The VCSP (aka the IRS amnesty program) allows employers to avoid the penalties for paying your workers as Independent Contractors when they should have been paid as employees.

IRS Amnesty Program? Yes There IS an Employer Amnesty Program

Eva explains,

For those employers who do apply for the VCSP, the savings can be substantial. For example, take a calculation based on unreported payroll of $625,000 in the prior year. Under the amnesty, the full payment to the IRS would be under $6,600. Without the amnesty, with the IRS looking back for only three years, it would cost the employer over $292,000 (for six years, over $620,000).

I can help you determine if the IRS amnesty program is a good option for your homeschool business or nonprofit organization. Contact me and we can talk about your options.

One homeschool group leader decided to apply for the IRS amnesty program and convert her tutors to employees. She said, “For $145 (her fee to the IRS), I can sleep better at night knowing the IRS won’t audit me or make me pay a penalty.”

Carol Topp, CPA

Helping homeschool leaders

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What Homeschool Leaders Don’t Know About Worker Classification

 

What Homeschool Leaders Don’t Know About Worker Classification

Carol Topp, CPA, the HomeschoolCPA will share tips on important issues that homeschool leaders may not know about. This episode will focus on worker classification — helping homeschool leaders understand how to classify their workers correctly as employees or independent contractors.

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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Tax return for a Classical Conversations homeschool business

We are a new Classical Conversations community set up as a single member LLC. We only had 2 students and so my tutor’s income was below the requirement for filing 1099s. Same for me. However, I saw that I shouldn’t be filing a 1099-MISC for myself. What should I be doing?

And what is considered profit for a CC community?

Esther

 

Thank you for emailing me your question about taxes and your Classical Conversations (CC) business.

As a single member LLC, you are a sole proprietorship and you report your income and expenses from your CC business on a Schedule C Profit or Loss from Business as part of your Form 1040.

All your income from the tuition and fees charged to your customers (i.e. parents) goes on line 1 Gross receipts or sales. In this example the total income is $4,500.

Your payment to your teacher(s) goes on Line 11 Contract Labor.  In this example a total of $2,250 was paid to independent contractors. Other expenses go in the categories listed in Part II of the Schedule C. Other expenses made the total expenses sum to $2,982 as shown on Line 28.

The profit is shown on Line 31> It is calculated  from Gross Income (Line 7 on the form) minus Expenses (Line 28). The profit is what you get to keep (and pay taxes on!) as the business owner. In this example the profit is $1,518. This amount will carried forward to the first page of the Form 1040 to Line 12 Business income or loss.

This Youtube video may help: https://youtu.be/qd5etmtyn9s It’s not specific to homeschooling businesses or Classical Conversations, but it goes over the Schedule C line-by-line in about 20 minutes.

P.S. I am no longer taxing new tax clients, so I recommend you find a local CPA to help you in preparing your tax return. To find a local CPA or accountant I recommend you try Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers and Quickbooks Proadvisors. A lot of CPAs and accountants listed on these sites specialize in small businesses.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping homeschool leaders

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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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CC Directors: Do not give yourself a 1099-MISC

I have spoken to several Classical Conversations (CC) Directors lately who tell me that they gave themselves a 1099-MISC to report what they paid themselves.

But this is not correct! CC Directors should not give themselves a 1099-MISC.

I can understand their confusion. These Directors are business owners of a Classical Conversations community offering classes for homeschool students and their parents in how to educate their children using classical methods. Typically, these Directors hire tutors as independent contractors to reach a class once a week and frequently the Directors also teach a class themselves.

They give their tutors a 1099-MISC to report their earned income and so they think they should give themselves a 1099-MISC as well. But this is not the correct way to report income as a CC Director.

As a business owner (and I’m referring to a sole proprietorship filing a Schedule C on their Form 1040) a CC Director is not paid as an independent contractor. Business owners are not “paid” at all. Instead they get to keep all the profit that the business makes. That profit is their “pay” or earnings from the business.

How to correctly report your income from your CC business

One Director told me that she reported her 1099-MISC as her total income on her Schedule C Business Income or Loss. But this is not correct. I explained that she needed to report all the income that the participating families paid her. That amount is her total income, not what she “paid herself” and reported on a 1099-MISC (incorrectly).

“Oh dear,” she replied, “I’ve been doing it wrong for three years!” Yes, she had been. 🙁

I explained that she needed to file a Form 1040X  Amended Tax Return to correctly report her income on her Schedule C for those prior years.

I also advised her to contact a local CPA to help her learn how to correct her tax returns and prepare it properly in the future.

How to correct a 1099-MISC

If you have given yourself a 1099-MISC, then you need to correct it ASAP!

Start by reading IRS Instructions to Form 1099-MISC page 10. Follow the instructions carefully. Check the CORRECTED box. Include yourself with $0 (zero) in Box 7  Non-employee compensation.

I recommend you contact a local CPA to help you file the corrected 1099-MISC.

If you’ve already prepared your tax return with the incorrect 1099-MISC, you’ll need to file a 1040X as well to amend your tax return.  It’s time to get professional help!


Business taxes and paying employees or independent contractors is not a guessing game! There are professionals like CPA and tax professionals who can help you file your 1099-MISC and tax returns correctly.

How to find a local CPA or accountant
I recommend you hire a local CPA or tax professional because they know your state and local laws best. If you do not already have a CPA or tax professional (and I don’t mean a store front tax preparation service) I recommend you try Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers or Quickbooks Proadvisors.
A lot of CPAs listed on these sites specialize in small businesses.

Business Consultation

I am not accepting new tax clients, but I will offer a phone consultation for CC Directors, tutors and other homeschool business owners. Contact me to request a phone consultation.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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What tax forms does a homeschool co-op teacher file?

Hi Carol.
Thank you for all the help you have already given our homeschool community!
There is a homeschool co-op that allows teachers to charge the parents $0-$45 per student.  As a teacher, how would I report any net income on my income tax return? Payments are made directly to me, the teacher.

Best regards,

Lynn (New York)

 

 

Lynn,

You report all your income and expenses on a Schedule C or the shorter form Schedule C-EZ as part of your federal form 1040.

The net amount (Income less all your business expenses) is carried onto page one of your 1040 and added to your other income  from W-2s etc.

If you made more than $400 in net income (your income less any expenses) in the year, you will also have to fill in a Schedule SE and pay Self-employment tax (it’s Social Security and Medicare taxes for self-employed people).

Hope that helps!

Carol Topp, CPA


Homeschool leaders: If you hired and paid a teacher in the past year you may need to file some paperwork with the IRS! The deadline is January 31 to give your workers a 1099-MISC or W-2.

Find out what to do in my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization.

 

 


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I’m a Classical Conversations Director. Do I have to file any forms with the IRS?

On April 15 last year (you know, that day the personal tax returns are due!), I received this email:

I need to be sure I don’t have any tax forms to file with IRS. This was our first year as a CC community, with only 2 tutors and 12 children.
-Name withheld to protect the guilty

 

Just as aside before I answer her question: This CC Director treated her tutors as independent contractors all year long. That may or may not have been the proper worker classification for them. She may have exerted enough control over the tutors that they should have been treated as employees, but I did not address that issue with her. At this point, what the director did in the past with regard to paying her tutors is done; it cannot be changed now. I addressed what she needs to do now to properly file her taxes.

Dear Name withheld,

As a Classical Conversations (CC) director, you are a small business owner.

You should have given your tutors a Form 1099-MISC to report the income you paid them (assuming you classified them as independent contractors). The Form 1099-MISC is to be given to each tutor by January 31 each year for the income paid in the prior year. A copy is also sent to the IRS. It sounds like you missed that deadline.

By the way, you cannot simply print the Form 1099-MISC from the IRS website. You must order forms from the IRS, purchase them at an office supply store, or use an online filing program like Yearli.com (that’s the service I’ve used to file my 1099-MISC).

You should also have reported your income and expenses from your CC business on your personal income tax return, using Form 1040 Schedule C Profit or Loss from Business.

If you had a profit of more than $400 for the year, you will also owe Self-Employment Tax. It is calculated on Form 1040 Schedule SE.

I’m afraid you are very late in filing these forms! You may owe a penalty for late filing your 1099-MISC forms. You may need to file an amended federal income tax return (Form 1040X)  if you failed to include your CC income and expenses. You may also need to amend your state income tax return.

I strongly recommend that you contact a local CPA to discuss amending your  federal and state income tax returns.

You may also need to address if independent contractor status is the proper classification for your tutors. My book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help you determine the best classification for your workers.

Carol Topp, CPA

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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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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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