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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Are homeschool co-op fees childcare tax deductions?

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Carol,

A parent asked me for our tax ID number to give to her accountant for listing out tuition as a childcare expense. Is this common practice? Is it the EIN that she’s asking for? Should I give it to the accountant directly? We are 501(c)(3) state-registered corporation.

–Lisa C

 

Lisa,

The parent is asking for your EIN (Employer Identification Number), but the tuition and fees she pays to your homeschool program are (probably) not tax deductible.

IRS Pub 503 Child and Dependent Care expenses make it clear that tuition/education expenses are not child care and are not tax deductible.

Expenses to attend kindergarten or a higher grade are not expenses for care. Do not use these expenses to figure your credit.
However, expenses for before- or after-school care of a child in kindergarten or a higher grade may be expenses for care.
Summer school and tutoring programs are not for care.

If the child was in preschool at your co-op, then, maybe, the portion for the child’s preschool expenses could be childcare. By the way you may need to check your state laws to see if you are required to be licensed as a daycare.

But the child car tax deduction is only allowed for the parent to work. Was this mom going to work while her preschool daughter was at co-op? If yes, then it’s childcare; if no, then it’s not childcare and not eligible for a tax deduction.

I recommend that you not give her your EIN and explain that her tuition and fees to your homeschool organization are not child care expenses and not tax deductible.

In reality, she could find your EIN on the internet if she knew where to look, but it’s more important that you explain that tuition and fees are not tax deductible child care expenses.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

 

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Tax breaks for education in some states

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I’m frequently asked about tax deductions for homeschooling expenses. The US federal government does not have any tax deductions or tax credits for K-12 education expenses, but some states do offer tax credits or deductions.

This document has a description of state tax breaks for educational expenses. The document is dated 2011.

http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/educcred.pdf

There is an 2014 update to the document at http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/ss/sseducdc.pdf.

It states:

To date, 14 states in addition to Minnesota provide income tax benefits for education-related expenses.
Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana,Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia all provide tax credits for contributions to nonprofit school tuition organizations that operate like charities; Puerto Rico also allows a similar credit.
Kansas, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island allow their credits only for corporate taxpayers; the Florida credit is allowed against corporate, insurance premiums, severance, alcoholic beverage taxes, and sales taxes for certain taxpayers; and Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana,Iowa, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia allow credits for both individual and corporate taxpayers.

Arizona also allows credits for individuals who pay extracurricular public school fees and who contribute to character education programs at public schools, and Pennsylvania also allows a corporate credit for contributions to innovative public school programs.

Louisiana allows individuals to claim a tax deduction for qualified education expenses.
Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin provide individuals with nonrefundable tax credits for qualified education expenses, and Alabama allows a refundable credit for tuition expenses of students leaving state-designated low-performance schools. Iowa’s credit applies to tuition for children attending accredited not-for-profit K-12 schools, and Louisiana’s deduction applies to public, private, and homeschool expenses.

Courts in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and New Hampshire have upheld the permissibility of these education credits.

Did you find your state listed? Ask your tax professional if your homeschool expenses qualify for a tax credit or deduction on your state income tax return.

And always remember:

Tax deductions and credits just reduce the tax you pay.

Your state government is not putting cash in your hand to purchase books. You must do that first.

Then you pay a little bit less in tax via a tax deduction.

Taxes and your homeschool expenses

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I am pretty new to homeschooling and tax returns. As a matter of fact I have never incorporated my homeschooling into my tax returns since starting homeschool in 2013. What I would be interested in is finding out what are my to-do’s and to-donts when it comes to my household’s tax return and our homeschooling. Please let me know if you can help educate myself and potentially others.

 

Well, your homeschooling expenses are not included on your federal tax return at all, so there is nothing to be concerned about.

Homeschooling expenses are personal expenses, like groceries or clothes, and are not tax deductible on the US federal income tax return.

You cannot deduct your groceries or your clothes on your tax return and you cannot deduct your homeschooling expenses on your federal income tax return.

A few states may allow a tax deduction, a tax credit or an educational saving account. I cover details in this podcast episode:

Any Tax Breaks for Homeschoolers? Dollars and Sense Show podcast Episode 11

Carol Topp, CPA

 

 

Money Myths Homeschool Moms Believe. Dollars and Sense Show #13

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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 money myths that homeschool moms believe.

Listen to the show here

Do any of you, like me, have curriculum sitting on your shelf, that, if you are honest with yourself, you will probably never use?

I want to share some experiences I’ve learned about money and homeschooling.  I call it the Five Money Myths that Homeschool Moms Believe

Myth #1:  Just a Little More Money Will Solve All My Problems

Truth: Problem is not lack of money, but lack of contentment

Contentment Robbers: mail order catalogs, magazines, malls, etc… For homeschoolers the list is similar:

  • homeschool catalogs,
  • homeschool curriculum fairs,
  • homeschooling web sites and forums,
  • homeschooling magazines
  • and even (gasp) other homeschoolers

I personally do not look at the Sunday sale ads.  I didn’t know I needed stuff until I saw the ads!  So I stopped looking. Maybe it’s the same with you.  What are your contentment robbers?

Here’s some advice:

  1. Only look at catalogs when you have a specific need
  2. Use a shopping list at curriculum fairs. If it’s not on the list, you don’t need it.

Myth # 2:  I Need …..

Truth:  Wants are different from needs

Do you think that you just have to have a certain item (whether you need it or not) just because another homeschooler has it?

Here are some tips:

  1. Don’t buy things sight unseen
  2. Don’t buy more than one year of a new text

Myth # 3:  It was on sale; I saved a lot of money!

Truth:  Money is not saved unless there is a deposit into the bank!

As yourself: Is the sale price a good value?

My daughter was looking at an audio book catalog with deeply discounted prices.  “How can they sell these audio books so cheaply?” she asked me. “The original price was $500 and they’ll sell it for $150.” Perhaps, it never sold at $500 and it’s only worth $150. Is the $150 a good value?

Tip: If you buy something on sale, put the difference in a savings account.  Use the savings for future homeschool needs.

 

Tune in for the next Dollars and Sense show on April 10, 2014 when Carol and Susan will discuss More Money Myths that Homeschool Moms Believe.

 

Teens and taxes. Dollars and Sense Show #12

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In this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show host Carol Topp discusses taxes and teenagers.

Listen to the show here

Show Notes:

 A teenager files their own tax return!  Do NOT add your child’s income to your tax return.

You can still claim your teenager as your dependent. They check a box stating they are claimed as a dependent on your tax return.

Major taxes affecting teenagers: earned income, unearned income, and self-employment tax.

 Earned Income from a job or micro business (including babysitting). Federal income tax is owed if earned income is more than $6,100 (in 2013)

 Unearned Income: interest, dividends, capital gains on taxable accounts in the student’s name. Federal income tax is owed if unearned income is more than $1,000. Between $1,00 and $2,00 unearned income is taxed at child’s tax rate. More than $2,000 unearned income is taxed at parent’s rate  on Form 8615 (“Kiddie tax”)

Self-Employment Tax

Same as Social Security and Medicare for self-employed people. 15.3% of profit over $400. Unadjusted since 1954 (adjusted would be $6,250). Schedule SE attached to Form 1040. Reported on Line 56 under Other Taxes on back of Form 1040. (the “hidden” tax)

Example: $5,000 profit earned by single teenager. Income tax $0. SE tax $706!

If you’d like to see this changed, visit MicroBusinessForTeens.com/eliminate-tax-on-teen-entrepreneurs for a position paper you can share with your congressman.

 Exception to SE tax for teenage Household Employee: Students under age 18 working in or around an individual’s home is a household employee are not subject to SE tax. Report wages on Form 1040 Line 7 with “HSH” as note. Examples: babysitting, lawn care, house cleaner

 Teenagers scammed: Treated as independent contractor instead of employee.
Signs: Paycheck with no SS/Medicare withheld. Paid in cash. 1099MISC not W-2.
Action: Complain to employer. File complaint with IRS (Form SS-8) and Form 8919 to pay half SS/Medicare.

Resources

Teens and Taxes ebook by Carol Topp, CPA available at TeensandTaxes.com
Money and Taxes in a Micro Business by Carol Topp, CPA available at MicroBusinessForTeens.com
IRS Understanding Taxes website http://apps.irs.gov/app/UnderstandingTaxes

 

Tune in for the next Dollars and Sense show on March 27, 2014 when Carol will discuss 5 Money Myths that homeschool moms believe.

 

Any tax breaks for homeschoolers? Dollars and Sense Show #11

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In this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show host Carol Topp discusses tax breaks for homeschoolers.

Listen to the show here

Show Notes:

There is no federal tax credit or deduction for homeschool expenses

Some states do allow a deduction, usually on state income tax. Proposed in Ohio: Property tax deduction for homeschool expenses

Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana and Minnesota and all have some sort of tax break for individuals. The credit is available to any public or private school student, so it is not unique to homeschoolers.

Links:
This website has a comparison of state programs that offer a tax credits for educational expenses or for a donation to a scholarship fund. It was last updated in September 2011. http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/educcred.pdf

Home School Legal Defense Association has an explanation of some states’ tax breaks or credits:http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200504150.asp

Ann Zeise of A to Z Home’s Cool has a great, detailed and lengthy post of tax write-offs for homeschoolers:
http://a2zhomeschooling.com/laws/homeschool_laws_legalities/tax_writeoff_educational_writeoffs/

 Disadvantages of tax breaks for homeschool expenses:
We have an overly complex tax system already
Fear of government regulation, proof of homeschooling, etc.

 

Remember tax deductions and credits just reduce the tax you pay.

Your state government is not putting cash in your hand to purchase books. You must do that first.

Then you pay a little bit less in tax via a tax deduction.

 

Tax breaks for parents

  • Exemptions: $3,900 per person in 2013.
  • Child tax credit. $1,000 per child. Ends when child turns 17, not 18! Law says child “was under age 17 at the end of the year.”
  • Earned Income Credit
  • Child care deduction (if working for pay)
  • Educator Expense deduction (not allowed for homeschoolers because the teacher-parent is not employed by a school for 900 hours in a school year)
    • There is a bill in the US House of Representatives to allow home school parents to take this deduction. HR 1850 sponsored by Rep Tom Cole, R-OK.

Education credits/deduction

  • American Opportunity Credit (used to be called the Hope Credit) up to $2,500 per student. Tuition, books and equipment. First 4 years of undergraduate college.
  • Lifetime Learning Credit: up to $2,000 per tax return. Tuition, books and equipment. Undergrad, graduate and courses to acquire or improve job skills.
  • Tuition/fees deduction: Up to $4,000. Cannot claim tuition deduction and AOC/Lifetime for same student in same year.
  • Student loan interest deduction. $2,500 deduction.
  • Some states allow 529 deduction (Ohio)

College savings incentive

  • 529 plans offered in many states. Known an Qualified Tuition Programs (QTP). Tax free earnings when used for tuition, books, room and board.
  • Coverdell Education Saving Account (also known as Education IRA). $2,000 contribution per beneficiary per year. Tax free earnings when used for tuition, books, room and board. Can also be used for k-12 expenses.

 

Tune in for the next Dollars and Sense show on DATE when Carol will discuss NEXT EPISODE TITLE

 

 

How to report income earned from teaching at a homeschool co-op

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

Best regards, Lynn (New York)

Lynn,

You report all your income and all your expenses from teaching at a homeschool co-op on a Schedule C or the shorter form Schedule C-EZ as part of your federal Form 1040.
The net amount is carried onto page one of your 1040 (line 12 Business income) and added to other income from W-2s etc.

If you made more than $400 in net income (profit) you will also have to fill in a Schedule SE and pay Self-employment tax (it’s the same as Social Security and Medicare taxes) on Line 56.

Hope that helps!

Carol Topp, CPA

Any tax breaks for homeschooling in 2013?

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Tax season hasn’t even started, but my website stats tell me that homeschooling parents are already wondering if there are any tax breaks for homeschooling, based on my previous blog post, Any Tax Breaks for Homeschoolers?

 

There are no tax credits for homeschool expenses from the federal government, but there may be tax deductions on your state income tax depending on what state you live in.

Several states have an educational tax credit.

Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana and Minnesota and all have some sort of tax break for individuals. The credit is available to any public or private school student, so it is not unique to homeschoolers.

Florida, Indiana, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania offer businesses a tax credit if they sponsor a scholarship.

This website has a comparison of state programs that offer a tax credits for educational expenses or for a donation to a scholarship fund. It was last updated in September 2011. http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/educcred.pdf

 

Home School Legal Defense Association has an explanation of some states’ tax breaks or credits:http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200504150.asp

Ann Zeise of A to Z Home’s Cool has a great, detailed and lengthy post of tax write-offs for homeschoolers:

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/laws/homeschool_laws_legalities/tax_writeoff_educational_writeoffs/

Sorry I don’t have happier news, but many homeschoolers fear that a tax credit might come with strings attached such as reporting private information and record keeping that they would not care for. They prefer to homeschool in freedom and pay their own way in full.

What do you think?

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Can a teacher work off her homeschool co-op tuition by teaching?

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Carol,
Some of our paid teachers who have kids in our homeschool program still owe our group money. Can we just reduce their salary to reflect their net debt to us?
For example, one of our teachers will make $1000 for teaching next semester, but she will owe us $1,588 for all of her kids’ classes. Can I just bill her for $588 and call it a day?
Another teacher might make $2,000 and owe $,1000. Can we just offer a salary of $1,000?

Kay B in IL

 

Kay,

Oh I wish things were as simple as you describe!

Unfortunately for the teachers you pay, you cannot simply net what they owe you with what you owe them. The reason has to do with taxes. Earned income from teaching is taxable income, but tuition the teacher pays to your co-op is not a tax deduction. 🙁

In my latest book, Money Management in a Homeschool Organization, I address this issue. Here’s what I wrote:

I heard of a homeschool leader who let parents work off their tuition by teaching classes as independent contractors. One morning she announced to her teachers, “You all just got paid today!” but no paychecks were given out because they still owed tuition.

Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

Being paid for rendering services is one transaction (earning taxable income). Paying tuition (which is a personal expense like food or clothing and not tax deductible) is another transaction. The two do not negate each other.

The correct method would be for the homeschool group to pay the independent contractor teachers with paychecks and then they pay their tuition fee as a separate transaction.

Why is it so important to separate the two transactions?

It has to do with taxes. The teachers needed to report the income they earned on their tax return at the end of the year. Tuition for their child’s homeschool class is not a tax deduction, so they should not be seen as canceling out.

Or the homeschool group could hire teachers as employees and offer free or reduced tuition as a tax-free employee benefit.

Alternately, in a nonprofit organization, a volunteer can be given free or reduced tuition as a (tax-free) benefit in appreciation for their volunteer efforts.

If you’d like more information on managing the money in your homeschool group, order a copy of Money Management in a Homeschool Organization.

Carol Topp, CPA