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

 

Is this a gift or compensation to a homeschool leader?

gift_card_bow_ribbon_front_400_clr_4313

I just purchased your e-book, Paying Workers in an Homeschool Organization.   It only briefly touched upon the issue I am most interested in, and I am wondering if you have additional resources to answer my question.

Our Steering Committee decided years ago to provide certain gifts and perks to our chairman whom they were in danger of loosing due to her family suffering financially at the time.   The financial hardship has passed, but the gifts and perks remain. Currently, our chairman receives these annual benefits:

  1. $1,000 in gift cards (usually grocery and gas gift cards)
  2. $700 in classes for her children – these are the fees paid directly to the independent contractor teachers
  3. $100 -200 in waived registration fees (These are fees that the co-op charges members.)
  4. $160 in free pizza/drinks/snacks
  5. reimbursements for costumes and drama-related costs for her children (all other members pay for these)
  6. $300-$500 in cash gifts collected from members and given directly to the chairman.

She is the only one to receive gifts and perks out of the co-op budget.

This has been a very difficult conversation at our co-op because our chairman does do an enormous amount of work.

Thank you!

Anne in PA

 

Anne,

When I read the list of “perks” your chairman receives I was shocked! Wow!

Most board members are happy with flowers or a small gift card.

According to the IRS,  an officer who is paid is an employee. That means the gift cards, tuition discounts, and cash she received should have been reported to her on a W-2 and your group was supposed to pay employer taxes (SS/Medicare) on her “wages” and file quarterly tax forms with the IRS!

When you pay independent contractor teachers on her behalf, you are paying her personal expenses. The IRS considers payment of personal expenses as taxable compensation and it needs to be reported on a W-2. See  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopici93.pdf

My recommendation is to stop these excessive payments immediately. The IRS calls this “excess benefits” and can impose penalties and a 25% tax on what they deem “excessive.”

Here’s an excellent article on excessive benefits (they consider paying personal expenses for members of an officer’s family to be “excessive.”)
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/reporting-excess-benefit-transactions-the-irs.html

Here’s what they recommend:

If your nonprofit discovers an excess benefit transaction with a DP (disqualified person; i.e. , an insider or leader), it should make good faith efforts to correct it. To do this, you must have the disqualified person repay or return the excess benefit, plus interest, and then adopt measures to make sure the same situation doesn’t occur again. The IRS will take into account these efforts in deciding what penalties to impose and especially whether to revoke the nonprofit’s tax exemption. (emphasis added)

You can, of course, start paying her a salary that she will report as taxable income to the IRS. My new book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help with that!

Carol Topp, CPA


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Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization-2nd edition

$9.95 paperback
130 pages
Copyright 2017
ISBN 978-0-9909579-3-5

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Compensating board members can be troublesome!

man_with_bylawsI was recently reviewing the bylaws for a homeschool organization that stated,

Members of the Board of Directors may receive reasonable compensation for their services and may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in the maintenance of their duties

The board decided to pay its members for serving on the board. This board also selected its own members. There was no election or vote by the general membership on who served on the board.

It seems like a nice thing pay board members, right? They probably put in a lot of time and effort to run this homeschool group. What not pay them a bit for serving?

The IRS doesn’t like it.

A homeschool organization can compensate your board for their service, but compensation to officers is taxable income and the board members must be paid as employees. Other board members who are not officers can be paid as independent contractors and given a 1099-MISC.

Did you catch that? If board members are compensated, the IRS laws say they must be paid as employees. That means creating paychecks, paying payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare), preparing W-2s, quarterly filings with the IRS and your state, and may mean Unemployment and Workers Comp taxes!

Does your homeschool group prepared to manage payroll? My new book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help with that!

Also because this board appoints itself, it is self-dealing to vote itself compensation. This is what the IRS calls private benefit or inurement and it is forbidden by the IRS. Your organization could lose its tax exempt status if you practice inurement or too much private benefit. The IRS is serious about this!!

What counts as compensation? Here’s some guidance from the IRS

1) salary or wages
2) contributions to pension and profit sharing plans
3) unpaid deferred compensation
4) payment of personal expenses
5) rents, royalties or fees
6) personal use of organization’s property or facilities

Look at  4) payment of personal expenses, such as paying a hired teacher on behalf of the board member, is taxable compensation.

Reimbursement of expenses is OK, but compensation of board members for their service is taxable compensation.

My advice to this homeschool group was to stop paying board members compensation for serving on the board. Paying board members is complicated, requires they be paid as employees, and is probably illegal for this self-appointed board.

Carol Topp, CPA

 


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Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization-2nd edition

$9.95 paperback
130 pages
Copyright 2017
ISBN 978-0-9909579-3-5

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Should my homeschool co-op be giving any tax forms to our teachers?

Form 1099-MISC for 2010 with calculator and pencil on it

Hi Carol,

I had someone ask if our homeschool co-op will send them a 1099 for payment we made to her this year.  To the best of my knowledge, we have never done this before.  Is this something we should be doing?  Is there a guideline for how and when to do this?
-Trish

If you paid an individual more than $600 for their services in a calendar year, you are supposed to give them a Form 1099-MISC and a copy goes to the IRS.

You do not have to provide 1099-MISCs to corporations or for goods you purchased or for reimbursements of expenses.You only give 1099-MISC to individuals who you paid for hired work.

It’s a good practice to collect the legal name, address and SSN from every person you pay for their services before paying them. Use IRS Form W-9.

I use a service Yearli.com to prepare the Form 1099-MISC. They charge about $5/form, mail a copy to the recipient and to the IRS. It’s very easy to use.

The 1099MISC is due to the recipient and the IRS by January 31 each year.

My new book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help  you understand all the rules and tax forms for independent contractors.

Carol Topp, CPA


payingworkerscoveroutlined

Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization-2nd edition

$9.95 paperback
130 pages
Copyright 2017
ISBN 978-0-9909579-3-5

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Can a teacher work off their tuition to a homeschool co-op?

TOSMoneyTaxesHSFamily

We have recently started an inclusive homeschool co-op. I have three of your ebooks and I’m a bit confused on a few issues.

1. Each family pays the outside teachers directly. We do a registration process, but the cash or checks go to the teacher, not the co-op. Do we mark that money “in the books” or is that outside of co-op money?

2. I am also confused with the differences between volunteer parents teaching a class for reduced fees for classes and  an Independent Contractor working off their tuition.

What am I missing?

Thank you so much for your time,
Heather

Heather,
Thank you for contacting me. To answer your questions:
1. Since the funds never come to your group, they are not recorded in your books as income to your group.

2. Volunteer vs Independent Contractor (IC). It’s a world of difference because an IC is not supposed to receive any fringe benefits such as free or reduced tuition. If you give an IC fringe benefits, then they are an employee and you need to set up payroll, pay unemployment taxes, workers comp, SS/Medicare taxes, etc…The IRS is very clear and very strict about ICs not receiving benefits.
Employees of educational institutions can receive tax-free tuition discounts. Colleges and private schools do that a lot for their employees.

On the other hand, a volunteer can receive reduced or free tuition as a nontaxable benefit if it is insubstantial. If the free tuition is substantial, then the IRS would consider this compensation and the volunteer should report it as taxable income on her tax return. Read more about insubstantial benefits to volunteers.

This explanation may help:
(this is from an article “Money, Taxes and Your Homeschool Family” in the March/April edition of The Old Schoolhouse magazine. Read the full article here: http://ow.ly/uAkhI

Teresa, a homeschool mom who teaches at a co-op where her own children take classes, was told by her co-op that they would just deduct her co-op tuition from her income as a teacher. Teresa’s co-op paid her as an independent contractor and this arrangement didn’t seem correct to her.

Fortunately, she emailed me, asking, “Can I work off my co-op fees by teaching a class?”

The answer is no, you cannot.

The homeschool co-op should pay Teresa with a paycheck. Then, as a separate transaction, Teresa should pay her fees to the co-op. It is important to separate the two transactions because of taxes. Being paid for teaching is earning taxable income. Paying tuition is a personal expense and not tax deductible. The two do not negate each other for tax purposes.

It may seem like more work for the co-op’s treasurer to pay and collect money from the same person, but the separation is important for clarity and correct reporting of taxable income to Teresa.

I hope that helps explain the difference.

My new book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help homeschool leaders understand how to properly set up compensation for volunteers and Independent Contractors.

Carol Topp, CPA


payingworkerscoveroutlined

Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization-2nd edition

$9.95 paperback
130 pages
Copyright 2017
ISBN 978-0-9909579-3-5

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

DollarsSenseShow#13

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

DollarsandSenseShow12

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.

 

Money, Taxes and the Homeschool Family

My latest article “Money, Taxes and the Homeschool Family” is in this month’s edition of The Old Schoolhouse magazine.

Read the entire article here

The Old Schoolhouse magazine is  completely online and FREE.

You don’t even have to give your email to read it. How coo is that?

You might want to visit page 34 too!

Carol Topp, CPA

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

DollarsAndSenseShow11

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

 

 

Do you have to file to be tax exempt every year?

TaxQuestions
Once you file a support group as a 501(c)(7) social club, does the group have to file this exempt paperwork every year?
Susan R
Susan,
An organization applies only ONCE for tax exempt status.
But, tax exempt organizations must file an annual reporting of their continued existence, Form 990/990EZ or the online 990N every year with the IRS.
It’s a little like passing your drivers license test once, but you must renew your license every couple of years.
Most homeschool organizations file the online 990N and not the longer 990/990EZ because their annual gross income is under $50,000.
If you fail to file the 990/990EZ/990N for three consecutive years, your group’s tax exempt status is automatically revoked! Then you may end up owing taxes. 🙁
Additionally, some states require annual filings as well. Visit Hurwit and Associates to see what your annual filing requirements in your state might be. Pick your state in the drop down menu on the right sidebar.
I hope that helps!
Carol Topp, CPA