How does the new tax law changes affect homeschool teachers and tutors?

There were a lot of changes to the US taxes in 2018 and the IRS re-designed the Form 1040, so tax preparation in 2019 will be very confusing.

Here are some highlights of the tax law changes that affect homeschool business owners and that includes (nonemployee) teachers at a homeschool co-op, owners of for-profit homeschool programs, and tutors.

Yes, teacher and tutors are business owners! If you accept payment and offer a service (like a class), you are in business and are a business owner. If you teach or tutor as an Independent Contractor, you have a tutoring business!

 

Highlights of Tax Changes in 2018

  •  No more exemptions for each family member. This may hurt large families.
  •  Standard deduction increased to $12,000 S/$24,000 MFJ
  •  Child Tax credit increased to $2,000/child
  •  New Qualified Business Income deduction
  •  New tax forms: 1040 “postcard”
  •  Lower tax rates (12% for most of us)

 

The new Qualified Business Income deduction will help homeschool business owners. You’re going to love it!

The deduction is equal to 20% of your profit from a “qualified” business (sole prop, partnerships, S corp)

If your Taxable Income less than $157,000 Single or $315,000 Married Filing Joint, your business is “qualified.”

Look for this Qualified Business Income deduction on new re-designed Form 1040 Line 9

 


There is a lot to learn about running a business. I don’t mean to discourage you or anyone else away from operating a homeschool business. You provide a valuable service to homeschool families! I am offering this webinar to help you understand the tax implications:

I recorded a webinar on Tax Preparation for Homeschool Business Owners. It should be a lot of help to tutors, non-employee co-op teachers and other homeschool business owners! You can watch the recording at HomeschoolCPA.com/HSBIZTAXES for a small fee of $10.

Carol, thank you again for the webinar. It was one of the BEST webinars I’ve EVER attended. If you do hold another one, I would pay for it hands down.  Totally worth the $10! -Denise, webinar attendee

“I actually don’t care for webinars at all – it is not my learning style at all and I struggle to focus, but this one was extremely value and had my attention”. -Mary, webinar attendee


I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Helping homeschool leaders

Where to find the Taxes for CC Directors ebook

 

Here’s how to find my ebook Taxes for Licensed Classical Conversations Directors.
The link is in an updated version of the Director’s Licensing Guide (DLG) on page 54.
At the end of a paragraph on that page, there is a sentence saying for more information see Appendix M and “this document,” which is the link to the ebook. 
Appendix M is a letter from Robert Bortins talking about the book. The title of the book is not mentioned, except if you click the little blue “this document” link you will see the book itself.
Please help out your fellow CC Directors and point them to the Directors Licensing Guide (DLG) page 54, Appendix M and click on “this document.” 
If you cannot find Appendix M, or the “this document” link” doesn’t take you to the ebook, you may have an older version of your DGL. Please ask you Support Rep for the most recent version of your DLG.

 

Why can’t I get the ebook from Carol Topp, CPA, the author?
Unfortunately, I cannot distribute the ebook myself. My contract with Classical Conversations states that only CC may distribute the book. I am so sorry that it seems to be difficult for many of you to find.

 

What if I messed up my taxes?
If you read the ebook and believe you have made an error in filing your tax return, please consult a tax professional. If you prepared your tax return yourself, please contact a local tax professional to help you amend your tax return. It’s a confusing and complicated process to amend a tax return so I don’t recommend you doing it yourself. How to find a local tax professional

There is a lot to learn about running a business, so I recorded a webinar to help you understand your taxes:

I recorded a webinar on Tax Preparation for Homeschool Business Owners. It should be a lot of help to tutors, directors and other homeschool business owners! You can watch the recording at HomeschoolCPA.com/HSBIZTAXES for a small fee of $10.

Carol, thank you again for the webinar. It was one of the BEST webinars I’ve EVER attended. If you do hold another one, I would pay for it hands down. Totally worth the $10! -Denise, webinar attendee

“I actually don’t care for webinars at all – it is not my learning style at all and I struggle to focus, but this one was extremely value and had my attention”. -Mary, webinar attendee


 

I hope that helps.
Carol Topp, CPA
Helping Homeschool Leaders and Organizations

Homeschool business owner under reporting her income

I’m a leader of a small, for-profit classical homeschool program. I have only been recording the amount that I retain after I pay my tutors on my tax return. After reading your website and FB comments, I’m confused. Why do I have to claim all of the money even though I don’t keep it?

-S

 

Dear S,

You, as a business owner, must report all your income om your tax return. Additionally, you can deduct business related expenses, like paying your tutors, insurance, rent, etc.

You asked, “Why do I have to claim all of the money even though I don’t keep it?
Good question!

Short answer: It’s the law. The IRS requires business owners to report ALL their income. Then the business owner shows the IRS all their business-related expenses. The difference is profit and that’s what business owners pay taxes on (and get to keep).

Longer answer: By showing your total income from your business and all your business-related expenses, you prove to the IRS that your business had little or no profit. The IRS won’t take your word for it that your didn’t “keep it.” They want proof of how much profit you had and you give the proof by filling out the numbers on the tax form (Form 1040 Schedule C for businesses).

On your tax form (Schedule C) you should have answered this question: Did you make payments that require you to file Form 1099? with a YES, because you paid your tutors as 1099 Independent Contractors and gave them each a 1099-MISC (I assume).

Then further down on the Schedule C you can deduct what you paid those tutors on Line 11 Contract Labor (or Line 26 Wages if they are employees). Then you can also show any other expenses like insurance, office supplies, etc.


It is not my intention to scare you or anyone else away from operating a homeschool business. You provide an essential service to homeschool families, so don’t stop, but you do need to understand the legal and tax implications, so I am offering this webinar to help:

On Monday January 21, 2019 at 8 pm I will be giving a live webinar on Tax Preparation for Homeschool Business Owners.  The webinar is free for the live version. For details visit HomeschoolCPA.com/HSBIZTAXES


If you did not prepare your tax return this correct way, you may need to amend your prior years’ tax returns, especially if you failed to report all of your income. You can amend up to 3 prior years. The IRS can fine taxpayers for under-reporting income. They take that very seriously!

But if you correct prior year tax returns now, the IRS usually waives any fines and penalties.
You may not owe any additional tax, so don’t panic!. I cannot tell if you will owe more tax (or get money back!) until I would see your tax return and recalculate your Schedule C.

Did you prepare the tax return yourself or use a professional tax preparer? If you used a professional tax preparer, go back to him/her with all your records for the past 3 years and see what they recommend that you do.

 

I hope that helps!

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Webinar: Tax Preparation for Homeschool Business Owners


 

Taxes! Oh my! 2018 tax returns will be a doozy with massive tax law changes and the redesigned Form 1040.

But tax preparation for homeschool business owners is even more complex than regular taxpayers.

Fortunately, HomeschoolCPA is here to help. I recorded a webinar.

 Taxes for Homeschool Business Owners

$10.00 includes unlimited viewing and a handout of slides

Here’s what the webinar covers:

  • Highlights of tax changes for 2018
  • IRS tax forms for a sole proprietorship: Schedule C and SE
  • Self-employment tax
  • How to pay yourself
  • Tax deductions common to homeschool business owners
  • New tax deduction for 2018! Look out for this one. It’s terrific!
  • The new redesigned IRS Form 1040
  • Two sample tax returns. Yes, I walk you through two sample tax returns, so you can see how everything looks. 🙂
  • Common mistakes to avoid

Carol, thank you again for the webinar. It was one of the BEST webinars I’ve EVER attended. If you do hold another one, I would pay for it hands down.  Totally worth the $10! -Denise, webinar attendee

Carol, thank you for doing this for us! I am not a numbers person at all, and still found this webinar very interesting and helpful.”-Anne, webinar attendee

“I actually don’t care for webinars at all – it is not my learning style at all and I struggle to focus, but this one was extremely value and had my attention”. -Mary, webinar attendee


This webinar is for:

  • Paid teachers at a homeschool co-op
  • Tutors getting paid as Independent Contractors
  • Directors/owners of homeschool programs such as CC directors running a community
  • Music teachers, tutors, coaches, etc. running their own businesses
  • Business owners selling services to the homeschool marketplace

The webinar recording costs only $10. You will gain a lot more than $10 worth of information, I promise.

For $10 so you get:

  • Access to the webinar video to re-watch as often as needed (just save the link!)
  • Download of the webinar slides
  • Notification of upcoming webinars for homeschool business owners and nonprofit leaders

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Is ignorance of tax law a good defense for homeschool teachers?

A homeschool leader became concerned about a paid teacher in her homeschool group. It seems this woman has not reported her income from teaching at the homeschool program for 7 years!

The teacher has refused to listen when others try to explain her tax obligation.

The leader told me that the teacher “stops me in mid sentence because she wants to claim ignorance if she were to get audited.”

She believes she could claim, “I didn’t know.”

 So is ignorance of the tax laws a good defense?

Not typically!

Typically, ignorance of the law is not a defense in our criminal justice system.  Under a long-standing legal fiction, defendants are, instead, presumed to know the law. Source: https://www.freemanlaw-pllc.com/cheek-defense-federal-tax-crimes/

 

But in this case, the teacher is NOT ignorant of her obligation to report her income.

She is willfully blind.

“Most courts agree that if the taxpayer willfully remains “blind” to his or her obligations under the tax laws, no valid defense can exist.” Source: https://thetaxlawyer.com/…/tax-law-mistake-ignorance…

 

In other words, since the paid teacher is being willfully blind, she has no defense as to why she is evading income tax.

And as a taxpayer I don’t like it when other people evade taxes!

 

Your responsibility as a homeschool leader is to file the required reports, either a 1099-MISC (for Independent Contractors) or W-2 (for employees) with the IRS by January 31 each year.

 

My book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization explains the required reports your homeschool group should be giving to its workers (and a whole lot more!)

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

We don’t want 501c3 status. Should we still include the IRS language in the Articles?

We recently formed a non-profit in Texas but do not want to file for 501c3 tax exempt status.  When we created our bylaws your site was very helpful to us.  I thought I read somewhere on your site that it is better to include the IRS 501c3 verbiage from the beginning so that if we ever decided to do that, it would already be included.

I now can not find where I thought I read that.

Do we need to include it anyway or should it be left out if we have no plans on filing 501c3?

Thanks so much,
Cathy

 

Cathy,

The IRS requires their specific language to be included in your “organizing documents.” That’s usually the Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Association if your group is not a nonprofit corporation.

This requirement is found in the IRS Instructions to the Form 1203 Application for Tax exempt Status and IRS Pub 557 Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization (p. 22)

If you have no plans to request tax exemption as a 501(c)(3) charitable or educational organization, then your Articles of Incorporation do not have to include the IRS required language.

 

But, being a CPA, I always think about money and taxes, so I will warn you that without 501 tax exempt status of some kind (501c3 or c4 or c7), your organization must be filing a corporate income tax return, IRS Form 1120, every year and paying  federal taxes on any surplus you had that year. Texas may have a corporate or franchise tax as well.

By the way, that Form 1120 can be pretty complex. You’ll probably need professional help from a CPA to prepare it. You have to prepare and submit this form every year even if you didn’t have any profit! The Form 1120 shows the IRS that you didn’t have any profit!

So, you might want to reconsider your decision not to apply for tax exempt status.

I’m happy to discuss the pros and cons of tax exempt status with your board. Contact me.

 

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Holding a fundraiser to pay for homeschool curriculum

Photo credit TheMagicOnions.com

 

I homeschool my 3 children and 3 children of another family. As a project, we learned how to create a school website and as a idea to raise money for curriculum, supplies and hopefully a field trip or two. We’re in NC and also considered a private school.

We thought of an idea to sell Fairy Gardens that we personally make and accept donations on our website. Am I breaking any laws by not being registered as a business or non profit? 100% of profits will be spent on the school, but it goes to my own PayPal account and I state on the website that receipts for the donation being spent on the school and states that the donations are not tax deductible.

It dawned on me that it might not be allowed to do this without some kind of permit. I’m not sure though because I would be allowed to make fairy gardens and sell at a yard sale, so is it different if I sold them online?

Also, can I be a non-profit since I homeschool the children of two families and not just my own? I would greatly appreciate your feedback on this and thank you so much for all of the knowledgeable information you’ve shared on your site!

Best wishes,

April in North Carolina

 

 

April,
You and the other family are not a nonprofit organization, even if North Carolina classifies your homeschool as a private school. Private school  only means you are not funded with public (i.e. government) funds. It does not make you or your business a nonprofit organization. (BTW, some private schools are for-profit businesses.)

In order to be a tax exempt nonprofit, the IRS says you must be operated and organized as a nonprofit.

A tax exempt nonprofit organization “must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests” (Source: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/exemption-requirements-section-501c3-organizations).

So benefiting only you and the other family is “private interests” and not serving a public good, therefore you cannot be a nonprofit organization with only two families getting all the benefits.

Your fairy garden business is NOT a nonprofit. It is a business, probably a micro business. Stop calling your sales “donations.” They are simply sales of products (fairy gardens in your case) by a business.

You probably need to register in North Carolina as a business and probably get a vendors license to collect and pay sales tax.
Better start googling “Start a small business in North Carolina.”

 

My books Micro Business for Teens could help your children start this as their business (not yours) and learn a lot too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, your comment about selling your products at a yard sale is not quite correct. You can sell fairy gardens at a yard sale, but then you’re running a business and the profit is taxable. In yard sales, you are generally selling household items you bought over many years and used personally and selling them for less than you paid for them. But that’s not true for your fairy gardens. You did not use them personally and you are selling them at a profit, so it’s a business and you should register it and apply for a vendor’s license.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Do CC Directors pay for their own children’s tuition?

Do Classical Conversations (CC) Directors have to write a check (to themselves) for full tuition for each of their kids?

Karen-CC Director

Karen,

No. You do not have to write a check to your business for your children’s tuition. 

Here’s why:

If you pay your licensing fee based on student enrollment/tuition collected, you should track the total tuition collected including your own children in that head count. That way you is paying the correct amount for your licensing fee.

But for tax purposes, a you should NOT write your business a check for your own children’s tuition. Additionally, you do not include your child’s tuition in the income reported on your tax return (I’m assuming Karen, that you are operating your business as a sole proprietorship).

The reason is a principle in taxation called imputed income.

It states that a person should not be taxed when they avoid paying for services by providing the services to themselves.

There was a court case in 1928 that ruled that the imputed income from produce grown and eaten by a farm owner is not taxable as income to the farmer.[9]

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imputed_income#cite_note-9. See Footnote 9 Morris v. Commissioner, 9 B.T.A. 1273, 1278 (1928). Accessed January 20, 2019. See footnote 9

Conclusion: Karen must keep track of the tuition she would owe for her children so that she pays the correct licensing fees, but she does not need to write a tuition check to her business and she should not report her child’s tuition as taxable income on her business tax return (Schedule C).

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

My book Taxes for Licensed Classical Conversations Directors is available through Classical Conversations. Find it  in the Directors Licensing Guide  page 54, Appendix M and click on “this document.”

Can CC Director offered reduced tuition to her tutors?

 

Can a Classical Conversations director gift an Independent Contractor or employee with free or reduced tuition?

Suzy

 

Suzy,
A Classical Conversations (CC) Director can give educational benefits (i.e., discounts on tuition) to Independent Contractors (IC) or employees, but (and this is a big, “but”) the value of these educational benefits is taxable income and must be reported on their W-2 or 1099-MISC.

So a CC director can offer a tuition discount to an IC or employee, but must add the value of that discount to the tax reports she gives to her tutors (1099-MISC or W-2).

And the worker must report her paid wages and the value of this discount/gift on her tax return as taxable income. You should warn her about that in writing and face-to-face, so they aren’t surprised at tax time!

We think that taxable income is only what comes in a paycheck, but the IRS defines taxable compensation to include “educational benefits.”

compensation includes salary or wages, deferred compensation, retirement benefits…, fringe benefits (personal vehicle, meals, lodging, personal and family educational benefits, low interest loans, payment of personal travel, entertainment, or other expenses, athletic or country club membership, and personal use of your property), and bonuses.[i]  (my emphasis added)

[i] Instructions for Form 1023 https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i1023/ch02.html#d0e1909

So, yes, a CC Director can offer free or reduced fees to an Independent Contractor or employee, but it is not a gift; it is taxable income and must be included in their wage and income reporting.

A CC Director should also check her license agreement with Classical Conversations to see if reduced fees are allowed.

If you have additional tax questions about being a CC Director, I wrote an ebook that can help!
Taxes for Licensed CC Directors is available from Classical Conversation. Find it here
Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Can homeschool groups give free tuition to teachers like private schools?

I taught at a private school before I started homeschooling and I received free tuition for my children. Now I teach at a homeschool program. Can homeschool groups give free or reduced tuition as a fringe benefit like private schools?

 

Maybe!

You’re talking about what the US Tax Code calls “Qualified tuition reduction.”

The United States Tax Code, or 26 U.S.C. § 117(d) has some good news:
 In General. – Gross income shall not include any qualified tuition reduction.
“qualified tuition reduction” means the amount of any reduction in tuition provided to an employee of an organization described in section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii)

 

In plain English that means a school may provide its employees with tuition breaks, or cash grants for payment of tuition, without that benefit being considered taxable income to the employee. Good news for school employees!

But notice a few important words: employee and school

Are you an employee of the homeschool program?

If so, keep reading. But if you are an Independent Contractor, you cannot get tax-free tuition reduction benefits.

Is the homeschool program you work for as an employee a “school”?

The US Tax Code defines a school in section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii):

 An educational organization is described in section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii) if its primary function is the presentation of formal instruction and it normally maintains a regular faculty and curriculum and normally has a regularly enrolled body of pupils or students in attendance at the place where its educational activities are regularly carried on. The term includes institutions such as primary, secondary, preparatory, or high schools, and colleges and universities. It includes Federal, State, and other public-supported schools which otherwise come within the definition.

 

One aspect of a school is a “regular faculty,” which the IRS defines as

“qualified teachers instruct the students, and the same teachers do so on a recurrent basis.” 

Source: Internal Revenue Manual viewed http://www.irs.gov/irm/part7/irm_07-026-002.html#d0e549 on 5/11/15.

And by “qualified” the IRS means:

“certifications by the appropriate state authority or successful completion of required training.” 

Source: Instructions for Form 1023

Hmmm…

…regular faculty…regularly enrolled student body…qualified teachers…recurrent basis…teacher certifications…

Do those words used to definition a “school” apply to your homeschool program?

Maybe. Or maybe not. It might be hard to tell what the IRS meant since this part of the US Tax Code was written long before anyone thought of homeschool programs employing teachers.

Here’s my concern: If a homeschool program fits the IRS and US Tax Code definition of “school” so that its employees can get tax-free fringe benefits, is that homeschool program also a school in the eyes of its state laws regarding private schools? And are the students then attending a school and not really legally homeschooling?

Additionally, since states regulate education in the USA, your state’s definition of school may be VERY different from the US Tax Code’s definition.

It gets confusing. Very confusing. I’m a pretty conservative CPA and don’t like advising my clients unless things are pretty clearly stated in the tax code.

I also don’t want homeschool programs to be treated as schools or to even call themselves schools. I’m concerned that if homeschool programs call themselves “schools” the state may start imposing all the rules that schools must follow onto independent homeschool programs. That will stifle creativity, educational freedom, add a paperwork and reporting burden, and may end up restricting our homeschool freedoms.

It’s just not worth it!

My advice: Avoid attempting to fit the US Tax Code definition of “school.” Avoid even calling your homeschool program a school with both the IRS and with your state. Maintain homeschooling freedom even if it means you cannot offer your employees tax-free fringe benefits of “qualified tuition reduction.”

You may decide differently from what I wrote above. You may decide your homeschool program is a “school” by the IRS and US Tax Code definition. But if you do, please, please get a legal opinion on your organization’s status as a school from a qualified attorney experienced in educational institutions and get it in writing. Yes, you’ll have to pay for it, but it will be your defense if your State Board of Education wants to regulate your homeschool program!

 

Carol Topp, CPA