Still time to join the IRS and State Filings for Homeschool Nonprofits webinar

 

Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA, will help you understand the IRS and state reports and file them yourself! In her webinar IRS and State Filings for Homeschool Nonprofits, Carol will explain the IRS annual returns and how to determine what your state may require as well.

You will learn:

  • The importance of maintaining 501c3 tax exempt status
  • The IRS Form 990 series. What form your group needs to file.
  • How to know if you’ve missed filing IRS returns
  • How to see Form 990-EZs and 990s from other nonprofits.
  • An explanation of the IRS Form 990-N.
  • What filings may be required by your state with examples

The live webinar will be TOMORROW evening Wednesday August 21, 2019 at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT/6 pm MT/5 pm PT

The webinar will last approximately one hour. There will be time for your questions. It will be recorded for viewing later.

The cost is $10 and you will receive:

  • Access to the live webinar on Wednesday August 21, 2019
  • An opportunity to ask questions via the live chat room
  • Handout of the slides
  • Recording to the webinar
  • IRS Forms, Instructions and samples
  • Template to summarize your state and IRS filing requirements for your board

 

I hope you can join me TOMORROW evening Wednesday August 21, 2019 at 8 pm ET.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

What do you do after your homeschool group has tax exempt status?

Getting 501c3 tax exempt status is a great accomplishment! If you’ve done it, congratulations!

But you’re not finished with government forms just yet! Your state and the IRS have several reports that must be filed regularly to maintain that precious tax exempt stats.

Almost every homeschool group will have some reporting with the IRS and their state.

Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA, will help you understand the IRS and state reports and file them yourself! In her webinar IRS and State Filings for Homeschool Nonprofits, Carol will explain the IRS annual returns and how to determine what your state may require as well.

You will learn:

  • The importance of maintaining 501c3 tax exempt status
  • The IRS Form 990 series. What form your group needs to file.
  • How to know if you’ve missed filing IRS returns
  • How to see Form 990-EZs and 990s from other nonprofits.
  • An explanation of the IRS Form 990-N.
  • What filings may be required by your state with examples

The live webinar will be on Wednesday August 21, 2019 at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT/6 pm MT/5 pm PT

The webinar will last approximately one hour. There will be time for your questions. It will be recorded for viewing later.

The cost is $10 and you will receive:

  • Access to the live webinar on Wednesday August 21, 2019
  • An opportunity to ask questions via the live chat room
  • Handout of the slides
  • Recording to the webinar
  • IRS Forms, Instructions and samples
  • Template to summarize your state and IRS filing requirements for your board

 

More information at HomeschoolCPA.com/Filings

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Tiny Homeschool Groups: Do We Need to Pay Taxes?

Tiny Homeschool Groups: Do We Need to Pay Taxes?

Tiny homeschool groups have different challenges than large programs. They are limited on resources, volunteers, and activities. But they still have questions about legal status, money and taxes that the large homeschool organizations have.

In this 4-part podcast series, Carol Topp, CPA answers the common questions that tiny homeschool groups face. All podcasts are available at HomeschoolCPA.com/Podcast

  • Episode #175 Are We a Nonprofit?
  • Episode #176 Do We Need to File Anything?
  • Episode #177 Do We Need to Pay Taxes?
  • Episode #178 Do We Need a Bank Account?

In this episode Carol Topp will explain taxes for tiny homeschool groups:

  • How a tiny homeschool group can be tax exempt without applying.
  • How tiny groups can self-declare tax exempt status with the IRS.
  • State income tax exemption.
  • The IRS annual report Form 990-N.
  • Sales tax for small nonprofit organizations.

 

Join the Facebook group for homeschool leaders: I am a Homeschool Group Leader. 1,000+ homeschool leaders offer ideas, encouragement and respectful exchange of ideas. https://www.facebook.com/groups/72534255742/

 

Featured Product

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

 

 

 

Apply for 501c3 Tax Exempt status on your own (this webinar will show you how!)

 

I’ve helped over 90 small nonprofit organizations apply for 501c3 status using IRS Form 1023-EZ.None have ever been denied by the IRS.

Would you like to know what I know?

I share my experience, tips, and even a few secrets that I only share with my clients in a webinar

501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits 

This webinar is for:

  • People who want to DIY (Do It Yourself) in applying for 501c3 tax exempt status but need an experienced expert to teach them how.
  • New homeschool groups formed as nonprofit organizations that want tax exempt status
  • Homeschool groups that have been around a while but never applied for 501c3 tax exempt status
  • A homeschool business that wants to convert to be a nonprofit and get tax exempt status
  • Homeschool leaders who have heard about tax exempt status, but don’t understand the steps to take.

You will learn:

  • The difference between nonprofit and tax exempt status. They are not the same thing!
  • The pros and cons of tax exempt status
  • How you could avoid applying at all, yet still get all the advantages of 501c3 status
  • What is needed before applying for tax exempt status
  • The cost and steps to take
  • An explanation of the IRS Form 1023-EZ line-by-line. This will be the crux of the webinar and will help you prepare your own 501c3 application!
  • Tips on filing the IRS Form 1023-EZ from Carol’s experience of filing over 90 applications!

After the webinar you will be equipped to file on your own the IRS Form 1023-EZ, saving you hundreds of dollars for professional help.

The cost is $25. 

What  you get for $25:

  • Webinar recording. The webinar lasts approximately 1.75 hours.
  • Handout of webinar slides
  • ebook The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization by Carol Topp, CPA
  • Sample Form 1023-EZ for your reference
  • BONUS: If you feel you need additional assistance, we can arrange a phone consultation. I will discount my hourly rate from $85 to $60/hour, so this webinar pays for itself!

This is the second part of a 3-part webinar series

The first webinar Create A Nonprofit for Your Homeschool Community is available now. I highly recommended to watch this webinar first, if you haven’t done so already!

The final webinar IRS and State Filings for Homeschool Nonprofits will air in August 2019.

 


 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Webinar: 501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits

Have you heard that applying for 501c3 tax exempt status is difficult, time consuming and expensive? Well, it can be, so Carol Topp, CPA the HomeschoolCPA wants to make applying for 501c3 tax exempt status a lot easier for you!

So easy, you can do it yourself!

In this webinar 501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits Carol shares her tips and secrets to apply for 501c3 tax exempt status with the IRS.

You will learn:

  • The difference between nonprofit and tax exempt status. They are not the same thing!
  • The different types of 501c organizations there are and which are most common for homeschool groups
  • The pros and cons of tax exempt status
  • How you could avoid applying at all, yet still get all the advantages of 501c3 status
  • What is needed before applying for tax exempt status
  • The cost and steps to take
  • An explanation of the IRS Form 1023-EZ line-by-line. This is the crux of the webinar and will help you prepare your own 501c3 application!
  • Tips on filing the IRS Form 1023-EZ from Carol’s experience of filing over 90 applications!
  • What filings may be required by your state (in addition to the IRS)

After the webinar you will be equipped to file on your own the IRS Form 1023-EZ, saving you hundreds of dollars for professional help.

 

Watch a preview:

The cost is $25.  The webinar runs approximately 1.75 hours.

What  you get for $25:

  • Access to the webinar recording
  • Handout of webinar slides
  • Sample Form 1023-EZ for your reference
  • ebook The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization by Carol Topp, CPA
  • BONUS: If you feel you need additional assistance, I will discount my hourly rate from $85 to $60/hour if you have purchased the webinar.

This is the second part of a 3-part webinar series

The first webinar is Create A Nonprofit for Your Homeschool Community. I highly recommended to watch this webinar first, if you haven’t done so already!

The final webinar IRS and State Filings for Homeschool Nonprofits will air in August 2019.

 


Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Inurement: a funny word the IRS doesn’t like!

The IRS uses an unusual word that most of us don’t know the meaning of: inure or inurement. Here’s how the IRS uses it in their definition of a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization:

A section 501(c)(3) organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator’s family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a section 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization. (emphasis added)

Source: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/inurement-private-benefit-charitable-organizations

What does inurement mean?

“Inurement” means “benefit.”  The IRS forbids a tax exempt organization to use its income or assets to directly or indirectly benefit an individual, a person with a close relationship with the organization or a person who is able to exercise significant control over the organization. These can be board members or donors.

Jeramie Fortenberry an attorney, gives an excellent explanation of inurement in his website article “The Inurement Prohibition & Non-Profit Organizations.”

Non-profit organizations are subject to what is known as the nondistribution constraint.  Simply stated, this means that non-profit organizations cannot distribute profits to those who control it.  The nondistribution constraint is the fundamental distinction between non-profit organizations from for-profit organizations.  (emphasis added)

Any time assets of the organization flow through to benefit the organization’s insiders, whether directly or directly, inurement is an issue.

What are some examples of inurement?

  • A nonprofit executive used the organization’s money to pay his child’s college tuition, lease a luxury car for his wife, have his kitchen remodeled, and rent a vacation house at the beach.
  • The CEO at a tax-exempt hospital used charitable assets to pay for personal items such as liquor, china, crystal, perfume, an airplane, and theater tickets.
  • A nonprofit art gallery exhibits artwork created by its members for a fee but grants board members the same service without cost.
  • The nonprofit organization’s sole activity is conducting seminars and lectures based on the program owned by its president and his for-profit company.
  • An educational organization had four board members who voted themselves free tuition to the program for their children. This benefit ranged from $2,000-$4,000 per board member per academic year.

Sources: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-is-private-inurement.html and https://boardsource.org/resources/private-benefit-private-inurement-self-dealing/ and https://www.forpurposelaw.com/the-private-benefit-rule-three-more-examples/

What happens if a nonprofit practices inurement?

I would hope inurement would never happen in a homeschool group, by Mr. Fortenbury discusses the IRS’s options against a nonprofit organization.

The inurement restriction is absolute: An organization that violates this prohibition will not qualify (or will cease to qualify) for tax exemption.

In cases involving inurement, the IRS may impose the penalties in lieu of or in addition to the revocation of tax exempt status. 

This system effectively gives the IRS two options to enforce the nondistribution constraint.  In blatant violations of the inurement prohibition, the IRS can both revoke tax exemption and impose monetary penalties under the intermediate sanction regimes. In less severe cases, the IRS may seek to correct the situation through intermediate sanctions alone.

For the full article visit: https://www.fortenberrylaw.com/inurement-prohibition-nonprofit-organizations,

 

So, please homeschool leaders, stay away from inurement (giving benefits or the assets that belongs to the nonprofit) to any insiders (those who exercise control over the organization).

We’re homeschoolers and we’re better than that.

Carol Topp, CPA

Create a Nonprofit Organization for Your Homeschool Community


Can a homeschool community of families become a nonprofit? What if it is currently a business?
How hard is it?
What are the steps to take?
How fast can it get it done?
How much will it cost?

 

I have recorded a webinar to answer all these questions and more!

Create a Nonprofit Organization for Your Homeschool Community

The webinar is 90 minutes and covers:

  • The difference between a business and a nonprofit
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a nonprofit
  • Forming a board: who can be one it, what do they do, etc.
  • Creating bylaws
  • Drafting a budget
  • Setting up a bank account
  • Forming a nonprofit corporation in your state
  • The timeline to get this all done
  • The expense to accomplish this

Who should watch the webinar?

  • Brand new start up homeschool groups
  • Existing groups that never formed as a nonprofit
  • Homeschool communities run as a business that want to convert to be a nonprofit
  • Leaders that are unsure if their homeschool group is a business or a nonprofit. It can be confusing!

 

Watch a preview:

 

The webinar fee is $10. Yes only $10.

You will receive:

  • A link to the recording of the video (90 minutes). Watch anytime (just bookmark the link)
  • A copy of the slides from the webinar


Thank you for this webinar! It was great!-Alicia, homeschool leader
Thank you! It was very informative!-Rhonda, live attendee


UPDATE: The follow-on to this webinar is 501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits. It walks you though the IRS Form 1023-EZ application line-by-line. You will be ready to apply on your own after watching this webinar.

 

Your host:

Carol Topp, CPA is the owner of HomeschoolCPA.com and has assisted more than 150 homeschool organizations apply for 501c3 tax exempt status. She is the author of 15 books.

 

 

 

Making Sure Your Nonprofit Organization is Compliant

 

A lot of homeschool leaders ask me,

“What do I need to do after my homeschool gets nonprofit or tax exempt status?”

They are asking about being compliant with the laws of our land, both federal and sate.

This article Making Sure your Nonprofit Organization is Compliant from MoneyMinder.com has a great article that explains compliance in these areas:

Tax Exempt Status which includes federal income tax exempt granted by the IRS, and sales tax exemption from your state. Your nonprofit may even be eligible for property tax exemption if your own a building. The laws on sales tax and property tax exemption vary by state.

My article explains the IRS filing requirements Do You Know About Required IRS Filings? for tax exempt organizations.

Register with the State Registration laws vary from state to state but most require you to confirm your active status (especially if you are formed as a nonprofit corporation), contact information, mailing address, and name of board members. This reporting is usually to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Charitable Solicitations
Many states ask that you register before actually asking for donations or fundraising. This registration is usually to the Attorney General’s office in your state.

Donation Receipt Requirements
A donor should be given a receipt for any single contribution of $250 or more. The article gives more details on what your donation receipt should say.

 

To research what your state compliance requirements are visit this helpful website

https://www.harborcompliance.com/information/nonprofit-startup-guide.php

If you wish, I can research your state’s requirements and compose a letter explaining what you should do next for filing in your state. I will charge $50 for the research and letter. Just let me know if I can help you in this way.

 

I hope that helps you know what it takes for your homeschool nonprofit to be compliant in your state and with the IRS.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

How to Convert Your Homeschool Business into a Nonprofit Organization

 

 

Sometimes a homeschool group that started as a for-profit business wants to convert to a nonprofit organization.

Can that be done? Yes!

How hard is it?

How costly is it?

What steps do I take?

 

I’m offering a webinar on How to Convert Your Business into a Nonprofit Organization for Homeschool Programs

Now it has a new name!

Create a Nonprofit Organization for Your Homeschool Community

This is a slight name change from the original webinar. As I was preparing the slides, I realized that the information I was sharing was broad enough to be helpful to anyone starting a new homeschool nonprofit or converting a business to a nonprofit. So I re-named the webinar and I also reduced the price to $10 to make it affordable to more people.

The webinar will be airing live on Monday April 22, 2019 at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT/6 pt MT/5 pm PT.

 

The goal of this webinar is to equip homeschool leaders with an understanding of how to form a nonprofit. You will understand:

  • The steps to take
  • What documents need to be filed and with who
  • The cost and time commitment
  • How to determine if this is a viable option for your homeschool program to pursue

The webinar will cover:

  • The difference between a business and a nonprofit
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a nonprofit
  • Forming a board: who can be one it, what do they do, etc.
  • Creating bylaws
  • Drafting a budget
  • Setting up a bank account
  • Forming a nonprofit corporation in your state
  • The timeline to get this all done
  • The expense to accomplish this

A follow up webinar will cover the IRS Form 1023/1023-EZ Application for 501c3 Tax Exempt Status. It will air sometime in June 2019.

Who should register?

  • Brand new start up homeschool groups
  • Existing groups that never formed as a nonprofit
  • Homeschool communities run as a business that want to convert to be a nonprofit
  • Leaders that are unsure if their homeschool group is a business or a nonprofit. It can be confusing!

The webinar fee is $10. 

You will receive:

  • Access to the live webinar with a chat room to ask questions
  • A link to the recording of the video to watch later
  • A copy of the slides from the webinar

 

Your host:

Carol Topp, CPA is the owner of HomeschoolCPA.com and has assisted more than 150 homeschool organizations apply for 501c3 tax exempt status. She is the author of 15 books.

 

 

 

FAQ on Property Tax for Churches Hosting Homeschool Programs

FAQ on Property Tax for Churches Hosting Homeschool Programs

By Carol Topp, CPA         HomeschoolCPA.com

Last update April 5, 2019

For a easy-to-print pdf version click here.

Many homeschool groups use churches for their educational programs. These groups are grateful to the churches for allowing homeschoolers to use their building, sometimes without charging rent.

But some homeschool programs are organized and operate as for-profit businesses and that could threaten the church’s property tax exemption. Churches are granted property tax exemption by their states for conducting religious activities or worship services. In most states, a church cannot let their building be used for activities with a “view to profit” or for “pecuniary gain” (gain of monetary value) or the church could lose part or all of its property tax exemption.

 

Here are some frequently asked questions about property tax, churches and homeschool groups.

If my homeschool group is a nonprofit organization, can we use the church building?

Yes, probably. Nonprofits, especially those with a religious purpose, do not have a “view to profit” or engage in activities for “pecuniary gain,” (those phrases are used in several state statues regarding property tax exemption) so they may use church property without posing a threat to the church’s property tax exemption.

What if my business doesn’t make a profit?

The property tax exemption is based on the use of an exempt property (i.e., the church building) by a for-profit business. Exemption is not based on the profitability of the business entity using the church’s property.

If I don’t make a profit from my business, I’m a nonprofit then, right?

No. An organization is only a nonprofit if it is organized (with a board, bylaws, etc.) and operated (with a religious, educational, or charitable purpose) as a nonprofit. What you are is an unprofitable business, but not a nonprofit organization.

I’m not a business; we’re just a bunch of moms gathered together to educate our children.

If you received money and in return offered a service (such as educational classes), then you are operating a business. You are not “just a bunch of moms.”

What if my business doesn’t pay rent to the church?

It is commonly assumed that if a church does not charge rent to a for-profit business, then no income tax would be owed by the church. That is usually correct and refers to unrelated business income tax (UBIT). No income, therefore no income tax to pay.

But income tax and property tax are two separate taxes. The property tax exemption is based on use of the church’s real and personal property, not on any income the church receives from rental activities. Therefore, the fact that a church is generous and does not charge rent to the business owner using the church building, does not change the fact that the church’s property tax exemption is at stake.

Renting out space could incur unrelated business income tax (UBIT). The IRS assesses UBIT on churches and all 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofits if they receive income from conducting a business unrelated to the church’s religious purpose. If a church rents space to a for-profit business, the church is conducting a business and may be required to pay UBIT. There are several exceptions to UBIT, so the church should discuss the issue with their CPA.

What if my business gives a love offering or donation to the church?

Calling what you give to the church a “donation” or “love offering” is a simply renaming the payment. Calling your payment a donation does not change the fact that you are giving money to the church in exchange for use of its space. Even if the church does not bill you, it is payment for use of space and not a donation. Be honest. Call it what it is: rent.

Attorney and CPA, Frank Sommerville, says

“Many churches try to disguise rents by using other terminology or by claiming that the other organization is simply giving a donation to the church. Other times the church calls it a “cleanup fee” or tells the tenant to pay the janitor directly for his services. None of these name games work. If any amount is paid by the other organization to the church or the church’s workers, then the IRS and state taxing authorities will likely treat it as rent paid to the church.”

Source:  https://www.wkpz.com/content/files/Use%20of%20Church%20Facilities%20by%20Outside%20Groups.pdf

Will the church lose its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status for hosting a for-profit business?

The church has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status as a religious organization and probably also charitable and educational purposes as well. As long as the church’s activities are exclusively religious, charitable, and/or educational, their 501(c)(3) status is not in jeopardy. But two other issues need to be considered: inurement and unrelated business income tax (UBIT).

The church could lose its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status if they practice inurement. Inurement means “benefit” and includes the transfer or use of property to insiders for less than fair market value. The IRS forbids a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization to use its income or assets to directly or indirectly benefit an individual, a person with a close relationship with the organization, or a person who is able to exercise significant control over the organization. These “insiders” can be board members or donors and would also include the pastor, leaders, elders, deacons, trustees, and staff and their family members.

Here’s the IRS definition of inurement:

A section 501(c)(3) organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator’s family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a section 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/inurement-private-benefit-charitable-organizations

For example, the spouse of a pastor operating his or her for-profit business on the church’s property could threaten the church’s 501(c)(3) tax exempt status because the church may be guilty of inurement.

Inurement is a very serious matter and the IRS has revoked the 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from churches for practicing inurement.

Renting space is a commercial activity and not a religious, charitable or educational activity. So the IRS considers income from renting space as “unrelated business income” and will charge an unrelated business income tax (UBIT) on the profits from the rented space.

Property tax and unrelated business income tax are two separate taxes. Property tax is determined by state laws and administered by local county government. It is an ad valorem tax, meaning based on value. An ad valorem tax is based on the assessed value of an item such as real estate or personal property.

UBIT is determined and administered by the IRS at the federal level. It is a tax based on income, specifically business income unrelated to the exempt purpose of the tax exempt entity. Most churches strive to avoid UBIT and many have policies prohibiting for-profit businesses to rent or use the church’s property to avoid UBIT.

My business has a religious purpose. I’m a Christian, we pray before classes and quote Bible verses. So I fit the religious purposes of the church, right?

Having a religious faith or conducting religious activities such as prayer, Bible teaching, etc. does not mean your business has an exempt religious purpose. As a business, your purpose is to make a profit. Many state statues regarding property tax exemption are specific on what type of entities can claim the religious exemption.

What if the church knows I’m operating a for-profit business and doesn’t mind or doesn’t care?

It is quite rare for a church to knowingly allow a for-profit business use their facilities. The church is putting itself at risk of losing part or all of its property tax exemption. The church may be ignorant of their state’s prohibition against using their tax-exempt property to conduct for-profit activities. Or you may have misrepresented the true nature of your business. Or you may have spoken with a pastor and not the church’s business administrator or board of trustees, who are more aware of the legal and financial matters of the church.

What if my homeschool program is a nonprofit but I hire my teachers/tutors as Independent Contractors? (added April 5, 2019)

Many small nonprofits desire to avoid the hassles of employees and payroll, but hiring workers who provide the key activity of the nonprofit’s purpose (education in the case of a homeschool program), means that these individuals are still conducting their for-profit businesses on the church’s property. That could still threaten the church’s property tax exemption. An educational nonprofit should treat workers (i.e., teachers or tutors) providing the key activity of their nonprofit (education) as employees.

Other workers such as a website designer or outside bookkeeper, who do not provide the primary or key services of the nonprofit, can be treated as Independent Contractor without threatening the church’s property tax exemption.

What if my business is an LLC (Limited Liability Company)?

A single-member LLC taxed as a sole proprietorship is still a for-profit business. If you regularly conduct your for-profit business on the church’s property, it could threaten the church’s property tax exemption.

Isn’t it the responsibility of the church to ask if my homeschool program is a for-profit business?

It is quite unusual for a church to let a for-profit business use their facilities, so they may not have even thought of asking. The church may be ignorant of their state’s prohibition again using their tax-exempt property to conduct for-profit activities. Additionally, you may have misrepresented yourself as “just a bunch of moms” or as a homeschool groups and not disclosed the for-profit nature of the business. You bear responsibility for disclosing the true nature of your business to the church.,

My church houses a bookstore/coffee shop/Weight Watchers, etc.? How is that legal but my homeschool business program is not?

These examples may be for-profit businesses operating in a church and may threaten the property tax exemption of the church. Alternately, the church may be paying property tax on the portion of the building being used by the businesses (if their state allows partial nonexempt use).

How do I know what my state laws say about property tax exemption for churches?

Do an internet search on property tax exemption and your state. Or search this pdf file (466 pages long) from The Civic Federation. https://www.civicfed.org/file/4794/download?token=3ifCi8dI. It lists the property tax laws or each state. After you do a search for state laws, call your local county tax assessor. The state sets the laws, but the local assessor applies the law to specific situations. Ask the assessor about business use of a church’s building affecting property tax exemption.

Our church pastor/deacon/elder’s spouse is the business owner. Is that a problem?

It could be. The church’s 501(c)(3) status makes them exempt from federal income tax and usually state income tax as well. Hosting a for-profit business does not typically threaten the church’s 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, but if the for-profit business is owned by a church “insider” or family member of an insider, the church could be guilty of inurement and that may threaten their 501(c)(3) status. Prohibited inurement includes the transfer or use of property to insiders for less than fair market value.

Aren’t the churches making a big fuss over nothing?

Maybe not. Read this story about a church in Miami, FL that was assessed a $7.1 million dollar property tax bill for conducting a for-profit school on their church property.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/real-estate-news/article222993435.html?fbclid=IwAR2Ehjdp7kYjJQFeJHipP_wBKMXhJfc3U33vi0SNwwBMkqtzudi_dSryE9g

The facts in this case are different from most homeschool programs, but a tax assessor can levy a tax lien against a church for conducting a for-profit business (in this case a Christian school) on the church’s property.

What should I do if I am the business owner?

  • Become informed about the limits on business activities conducted by churches in your state’s property tax exemption laws. This document may help you start your research:https://www.civicfed.org/file/4794/download?token=3ifCi8dIThis pdf file is 466 pages and lists the state statuses for every state. Then do an internet search “YOUR STATE nonprofit property tax exemption” or “YOUR STATE church property tax exemption.”
  • Call the government agency responsible for assessing property tax. In most states that is your local county property tax assessor. In other states, it may be the state department of revenue.  Ask the person with the knowledge and authority to assess property tax, “Can a church let a for-profit business use the church’s building on a regular basis without harming our property tax exemption?” Ask for an assessment to be conducted and an estimate of the property tax to be calculated. Request a written report of their findings and opinion, especially of the county tax assessor declares there is “no problem.” Determine if your business can afford to pay the property tax bill. (expanded to clarify the proper agency to contact on April 5, 2019)
  • Talk to your host church about this issue. Ask what they know about limits on business activity for churches in your state.
  • Consider looking for a location that is not a church or other property tax exempt nonprofit organization.
  • Consider converting your business to a nonprofit organization with a religious and educational purpose. That involves forming a board to operate the program, drafting bylaws, etc. It takes time and money, but then the nonprofit organization could use the church’s space without being concerned about threatening the church’s property tax exemption.
  • Seek competent legal advice on your business’ use of church property regarding property tax exemption, UBIT, and inurement.

What should I do if I am a church leader/pastor/elder, etc.?

  • Call the government agency responsible for assessing property tax. In most states that is your local county property tax assessor. In other states it may be the state department of revenue. Ask the person with the knowledge and authority to assess property tax, “Can a church let a for-profit business use the church’s building on a regular basis without harming the church’s property tax exemption?” Ask for a written assessment to be conducted and an estimate of the property tax to be calculated. Request a written report of their findings and opinion, especially of the county tax assessor declares there is “no problem.” (expanded to clarify the proper agency to contact on April 5, 2019)
  • Cease offering space to for-profit businesses. Draft a policy prohibiting the use of the church’s property by for-profit businesses on a regular, continual basis.
  • Continue being generous, especially to nonprofit homeschool groups.
  • Explain to the business owner that she can convert her for-profit business to a nonprofit organization with a religious and educational purpose. It involves giving up control of her business activities to a board, drafting bylaws, incorporating as a nonprofit with the state, etc. It takes time and money, but then the nonprofit organization could use the church’s space without being concerned about threatening the church’s property tax exemption.
  • Ask anyone desiring to use the church’s space if they are a nonprofit organization and perhaps ask for bylaws, Articles of Nonprofit Incorporation, or the IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter as proof of their nonprofit status and religious purpose.
  • Seek competent legal advice on use of your church’s property regarding property tax exemption, UBIT, and inurement.