How to know your status with the IRS

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We are trying to figure out what our status with the IRS is. We are a support group/co-op and just recently learned that we should be filing the 990N. We registered our name with the state in 2008. We got out EIN in 2009. We became incorporated in September 2014. Our annual gross revenue is less than $5,000.

 We have searched the IRS database of groups that have had their tax exempt status revoked and we are not listed. How do we find out what our status is and when the IRS is considering our date of formation so we know how to proceed?
Thanks for your help!
Anna in Ohio
Dear Anna,

You referred to an IRS database of exempt organizations called Select Check. I use it frequently to check on the status of nonprofit organizations.

But many times a homeschool nonprofit organization cannot find their name in the IRS database, usually because they have not applied for tax exempt status. That’s the situation for your group.

Your legal status is that you are a nonprofit corporation who can self declare your 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Since your revenues are less than $5,000,  you can self declare your 501(c)(3) tax exempt status and do not have to officially apply for tax exemption.

The IRS considers your date of incorporation as your “date of formation.” You should get a new EIN for the new corporation and not use the old EIN from 2009. The IRS considers a corporation a new legal entity and you should get a new EIN to match it. Getting and EIN from the IRS

Even though you didn’t have to officially apply for 501(c)(3) status, the IRS does require you to file an annual information return, the Form  990-N. To be able to file the Form 990-N, you need to call the IRS Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500 and ask to be added to their exempt organization database so you can begin filing the Form 990Ns. It typically takes 6 weeks after you call to be added to the IRS database.

Say something like this,

“We’re a new 501(c)(3) educational organization and my CPA said I needed to get added to the IRS exempt organization database so we could start filing our Form 990-N.”

They will ask for :

  • your EIN(Employer Identification Number)
  • organization’s name
  • address
  • a contact name
  • Date your fiscal year ends. Many support groups operate on a calendar year, but some operate on a school year with a year end of June 30 or July 31. Look at the form you filed when you applied for your EIN (SS-4) to see what you chose as your fiscal year end.
  • They may ask if you have “organizing documents.” They mean bylaws, Articles of Association, or Articles of Incorporation.

Call the IRS early in the morning. They open at 8 am ET and you can usually get through pretty quickly of you call then. Record the date you call, the IRS employee name and their identification number.

Be sure you go online to file the Form 990-N anytime after your fiscal year ends and before its due date which is 4 1/2 months after the end of your fiscal year.

Tax Exempt Status for Homeschool Support Groups (podcast)

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Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA, explains tax exempt status for homeschool support groups in her latest podcast episode.

She discusses what she learned about tax exemption from a recent webinar conducted by the IRS including:

  • Qualifications to receive automatic tax exemption from the IRS
  • In religious discrimination allowed or not?
  • Mandatory annual reporting to the IRS for support groups

Carol also discusses the advantages of forming as a nonprofit corporation.

Listen here

 

IRS and Your Homeschool Org coverCover Money Mgmt HS Org

Carol’s book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization, discusses the advantages of tax exempt status for homeschool organizations.

Carol also mentioned her book, Money Management in a Homeschool Organization.

 

Carol’s podcast, the Dollars and Sense Show, airs twice a month at DollarsAndSenseShow.com. If you’re a homeschool leader you might find these other podcasts helpful:

Episode #6  What is tax exemption and how do I get it for my homeschool organization?
Episode #30 Easy fundraisers for homeschool groups
Episode #36 Required IRS reports for homeschool groups
Episode #37 Has your homeschool group lost its tax exempt status?
Episode #41 Who’s afraid of the big, bad IRS?
Episode #42 How the IRS sees homeschool co-ops.

Will fundraisers cause a homeschool support group to pay taxes?

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I looked at the description of the 501c(7) Social Club status, and also reviewed your comparison chart between c3 and c7 status. I agree that our homeschool group most closely fit the 501(c)(7) Social Club status.

However, I was wondering if our periodic fundraisers would cause us to be taxed – your chart says on income from other sources.  We hold the fundraisers when our funds from membership are too low to pay the rent and other costs.
Thank you,
Lisa R

 

Lisa,

I’m glad you’ve figured out the differences between 501c3 charity and 501c7 Social club status. It’s important to figure out where your group fits.

You asked if periodic fundraisers would cause you to be taxed. It could be a problem, but not likely.

In general, fundraisers are considered “unrelated income” and nonprofits must pay tax on unrelated income (called Unrelated Business Income Tax, or UBIT).

Fortunately, the IRS offers several ways to avoid the UBIT tax. The exceptions include:

1. If the fundraiser was substantially conducted by volunteers (if no one was paid to run the fundraiser, then the proceeds are not taxed)

2. The fundraiser proceeds under $1,000 is not taxed.

The IRS has more exceptions to UBIT, but one or both of these exceptions to paying unrelated business income tax probably apply to your group.

Additionally, the IRS requires 501c7 Social Clubs to have most of their income come from membership fees (65% or more). You probably saw that on the chart comparing 501c3 to a 501c7 Social Club.

So make sure that your fundraisers stay under 35% of your total income. You said they are periodic and sound as if they are secondary to your membership fees (“We hold the fundraisers when our funds from membership are too low to pay the rent and other costs”).

I hope that helps.

Carol Topp, CPA

How the IRS sees homeschool co-ops (podcast)

IRS and homeschool groups

In this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show podcast, host Carol Topp continues her topic “Who’s Afraid of the IRS?” and discusses how the IRS sees homeschool co-ops and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

Listen to the podcast

Listen to the first part of this presentation where Carol discussed homeschool support groups and IRS 501(c)(7) tax exempt status as a Social Club.

Get a copy of the handout.

Carol also mentioned the article “Do You Know About IRS Required Filings for Homeschool Organizations?” Get it here.

The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization

Carol’s book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization, is available here.

 

How can the IRS revoke my tax exempt status when I never applied for it?

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Carol,
About 15 years ago a couple of moms started a homeschool summer sports group. About 8 years ago, two leaders opened a bank account. The bank set them up with a “Club” account and secured a federal ID number (EIN) for the club. We never applied to the IRS for anything. We never filed any annual reports (the Form 990-N).

Now from reading your website and our emails, it sounds like our tax exempt status was revoked and we need to get it back.

How can something we never had (501c7 Social Club status) be revoked? 

Your help in clarifying this is appreciated, so we know how to move forward.

Lisa

 

Lisa,

I know this is confusing.

Your sports group is a recreational club that fits the IRS definition of 501(c)(7) social club.

501(c)(7) Social Clubs can “self declare” their tax exempt status without officially applying. Technically, you “self-declared” your tax exempt status when you said you “never applied to the IRS for anything.”

Since 2007, the IRS has required all tax exempt organizations, even those that self-declared their tax exempt status, to file the annual Form 990N.  Read more here: http://homeschoolcpa.com/irs-form-990n-faq/

Your organization failed to file the 990-N for three years the and IRS has revoked your “self declared” tax exempt status.

Now you need to file the paperwork (Form 1024) to get back your tax exempt status that you didn’t need to apply for in the first place!

Crazy? YES!
Frustrating? YES!

A lot of small organizations have learned that their tax exempt status had been revoked and they didn’t even know about it!

I don’t think the IRS thought this through. I wish they had not revoked the status of 501(c)(7)s, but they did. I also wish they would allow a simple phone call to get reinstated instead of filing the paperwork and paying the IRS $400 fee.

Here’s the IRS webpage explaining how to get your tax exempt status reinstated. They offer 4 methods.

How to Have Your Tax Exempt Status Reinstated

If you find reading the IRS webpage a bit confusing, feel free to contact me and we can set up a personal consultation by phone to discuss your options.

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Who’s Afraid of the IRS? (podcast)

IRS and homeschool

 

Are you afraid of the IRS? Should you be?

How does the IRS see homeschool organizations?

In the latest episode of the Dollars and Sense podcast, host Carol Topp discusses how the IRS sees homeschool organizations. Carol discusses homeschool support groups and IRS 501(c)(7) tax exempt status as a Social Club.

Listen to the podcast here

Get a copy of the handout Who’s Afraid of the IRS Handout

Carol mentioned the article “Do You Know About IRS Required Filings for Homeschool Organizations?” Get it here.

The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization

Carol’s book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization, is available here.

Did your homeschool group lose its tax status? (podcast)

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Your homeschool group may have lost its tax exempt status and not even know it! I explain this problem in an episode of the Dollars and Sense Show podcast.

Listen to the podcast here

In 2006, the IRS made filing an annual report (Form 990/990-EZ, 990-N) mandatory for nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits that failed to file the Form 990 for three consecutive years, had their tax exempt status automatically revoked.

In the podcast, I discuss how to know if your group’s tax exempt status was revoked and how to get it back.

Episode #36 Required IRS Reports for Homeschool Groups explains the Form 990.

My book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization is a helpful resource for homeschool organizations considering the benefits of tax exempt status. Available here.

If you would benefit from a personal phone consultation, I’d would be happy to help your homeschool organizations. Contact Carol.

Carol Topp, CPA

IRS reports your homeschool group needs to file every year

IRS reports for homeschool groups

Your homeschool group should be filing some reports every year with the IRS. Did you know that?

Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, explains what forms homeschool groups should be filing with the IRS in this episode of the Dollars and Sense Show podcast.

Listen to the podcast here

In the podcast, Carol answers common questions from homeschool leaders such as:

  • We were told if our income is under $25,000 a year, we don’t have to file anything with the IRS. Is that true?
  • What changed? We never had to file anything with the IRS before!
  • But we’re not a 501c3 organizations (or don’t want to be), so why do we need to file anything with the IRS?
  • We don’t like government intervention. Why do we need to have anything to do with the IRS?
  • Our homeschool group doesn’t make any profit, so why do we have to file a tax return?
  • We’ve never filed anything with the IRS? We didn’t know we had to! Now what? Will be owe back taxes?

Here’s a helpful FAQ page explaining the IRS Form 990-N.

How to get added to the IRS database to file the Form 990-N.

If all this is new to you, don’t panic!

We can arrange a phone consultation with your homeschool leaders. Together we can sort out what needs to be done.

Contact me here.

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Congratulations! Another homeschool group receives tax exempt status

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Congratulations to Christian Homeschool Organization Interact Connect Encourage (CHOICE) in South Carolina on recently receiving 501(c)(3) tax exempt status with the IRS.

I was happy to help this homeschool organization use the new IRS short Form 1023-EZ. They received their tax exempt letter in 3 weeks.

CHOICE’s leader wrote:

Thank you so much for all of your help.  We have you in our budget now, so that we can contact you with questions whenever we need answers.

I am a little nervous about knowing what forms need to be sent where and when.

If you’re uncertain about what your organization needs to file with the IRS and your state, please contact me. I can help you sort it all out.

Tax exempt status is not automatic! Do you know what forms your homeschool organization should be filing with the IRS?

My (recently updated) book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization could help you understand when and how to become tax exempt.

Price: $9.95 paperback $3.99 ebook

Carol Topp, CPA

Can our homeschool nonprofit get a new EIN to start filing the Form 990-N?

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Carol,

What would happen if I were to call the IRS, have them enable my Employer Identification Number (EIN) to file a 990-N (we’re under $5k/year in gross receipts), and then file a 990-N at the end of the year? Perhaps they would flag my e-postcard since we have never filed one, but the EIN has existed for many years. Can my organization apply for a new EIN?

Will

 

Will,

Since your organization has existed for many years, but has not filed any annual information returns (990/990EZ, 990-N), the IRS will look back and revoke your tax exempt status. You will need to apply for tax exempt status.

Your current organization could dissolve and some of your leaders could form a new organization with a new name and new EIN. But the former head of the IRS Exempt Organizations, Lois Lerner, has said,

“I don’t know if it’s purposeful, but I do know that it’s important for people to understand getting a new EIN is not the answer. It’s like getting a Social Security number, they’re very easy to get. You can get one, we’ll enter it in our system but when we actually start looking and you’ve got two EINs, and one of them is revoked, unless you came back in, the other is not going to be legitimate in terms of your status. So keep that in mind.”

Source: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/uploadedfiles/boustany_johnson_ssns_72313.pdf page 9

So, getting a new EIN does not satisfy the IRS. You should probably look into getting your tax exempt status reinstated. I can help with that. More information here.

Carol Topp, CPA