Background checks for homeschool organizations

A homeschool leader on the Homeschool-Life Leaders Forum asked,

Could you share what companies you use to do background checks for your organization?

 

Here are some of the companies that homeschool groups use for doing background checks on employees and volunteers:

Protectmyministry.com

We have used ClearStar.net for several years. They charge $7.95 for a basic criminal background check. Our members can fill in their own information, so we don’t have to deal with paperwork and shredding personal information.

We use Federal Background Services. very reasonable and efficient

My co-op uses SecureSearchPro.com. They charge us about $14/check. They customized our background search to fit our specific needs. They bill us on a monthly basis. I really like them, they are easy to use, members fill out an online form so I never have to gather their personal information.

 

Many states now require background checks on any individuals working with children. You church host may require background checks as well. So the companies mentioned above may be very helpful to you in running your homeschool programs.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Helping homeschool leaders

How can I thank my volunteers?

 

It’s the end of your homeschool organization’s school year and you want to thank your volunteers. They work so hard, so you hand out generous gift cards as thank you gifts. You may have just created a tax liability for your volunteers! Carol Topp, CPA, the Homeschool CPA discusses ways to thank your volunteers that are tax-free.

Listen to the podcast

 

Do you have more questions about volunteers and paying workers? I spent at lot of time doing research so that homeschool leaders will know if they are paying their volunteers, board members, and workers legally and correctly. It’s all in this new book:

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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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Top 10 blog posts of 2016

 

Here is a round up of the top 10 most important blog posts from HomeschoolCPA in 2016.

 

Many of them have to do with paying workers in a homeschool organization, probably because I was asked a lot of questions about paying volunteers, giving discounts in stead of paying teachers and the difference between employees and independent contractors.

I also spent a lot of time in 2016 researching and writing Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization and my blog posts reflect what I was learning.

Compensation to homeschool board members is taxable income

Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization updated book is ready!

Are homeschool co-op tuition discounts taxable income? Probably!

Can you discount a homeschool co-op class in lieu of paying the teacher?

How you pay your homeschool teachers could affect the property tax exemption for your host church

Can a homeschool group just get together without having to report to the IRS?

Adding religious purpose to bylaws and Articles

Use Quickbooks online for free

Are discounts to homeschool board members taxable compensation?

How the IRS defines a school

I wonder what 2017 will bring in the world of homeschool organizations!

Sign up for my email list to be kept up to date on the questions homeschool leaders are asking.

P.S. Subscribers to my email list get freebies, discounts and special reports I share only with them.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

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Compensation to homeschool board members is taxable income

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This is an excerpt from my new book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization-2nd edition.

Compensation to board members is taxable income

I 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.

A homeschool organization can compensate your board for their service, but compensation to board members is taxable income. If the board member is an officer (chair, vice chair, secretary, or treasurer) they must be paid as employees. Other board members who are not officers can be paid as independent contractors and given a Form 1099-MISC.

Did you catch that? If officers 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 and quarterly filings with the IRS and your state, and may mean unemployment and workers compensation taxes too!

Does your homeschool group really want to deal with payroll? It can become an excessive burden on a treasurer or expensive if your organization hires a bookkeeper or payroll service. If you do choose to compensate your board members, I highly recommend using a payroll service.

*“Exempt Organizations: Compensation of Officers” https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/exempt-organizations-compensation-of-officers


I spent at lot of time doing research on this book so that homeschool leaders will know if they are paying their volunteers, board members, and workers legally and correctly.

I hope the book is helpful and lets you sleep at night not worrying about an IRS audit of your worker classification.

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 homeschool group pay a volunteer?

womangettingpaidcrop2

This is an excerpt from my update book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization

“Can we pay our homeschool co-op director? She works so hard.”

Yes, your homeschool organization can pay someone who works for the organization, but the pay must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The reporting responsibility will be on both the homeschool organization and the worker. Additionally, the organization will have to determine of the worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Other chapters in this book explain the required reporting and worker classification.

Instead of paying a worker, your homeschool organization can show appreciation to a volunteer in a variety of ways, but they may have tax consequences such as:

  • Reduced fees or tuition. Reduced tuition for classes or for a homeschool co-op fee is a nontaxable fringe benefit if it is insignificant (more on that in the book). If the tuition reduction is significant the value of the tuition is taxable income to the volunteer.
  • Gift cards, but they could be taxable income to the recipient if the cards are a replacement for payment for services and not a true gift.
  • Non-cash gifts such as flowers, books, a coffee mug or chocolate are excellent ways to express appreciation and are tax-free to the volunteer.

I’ll discuss each of these types of compensation (reduced fees, gift cards and non-cash gifts) to a volunteer in detail … (you’ll need to buy the book to read the details!)

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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Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization updated book is ready!

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Some people compare writing a book to giving birth. I can understand that! Please welcome my 12th “child.” This has been quite a labor!

This latest book book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization, is a major update to the 20 page ebook I released in 2009. Homeschooling has changed a lot in the past 7 years and homeschool leaders are asking a lot of questions about paying workers. The book grew from 20 to 130 pages!

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Can You Pay a Volunteer?
Chapter 2: Paying Board Members and Other Leaders
Chapter 3: Employee or Independent Contractor? Worker Classification
Chapter 4: Guidelines for Hiring Independent Contractors
Chapter 5: Tax Forms for Independent Contractors
Chapter 6: Payroll Taxes for Employers
Chapter 7: Tax Forms for Employers
Chapter 8: Sample Independent Contractor Agreements
Chapter 9: Resources

Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization,-2nd edition

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

BuyPaperbackButton

 

The ebook version will available soon!

I hope you find the book helpful.

If it still leaves you with questions about your particular situation, I do offer a worker classification consultation. It is private, specific and will give you peace of mind.

Carol Topp, CPA

 

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What’s inside the new Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization book?

payingworkerscoveroutlined

I’ve updated my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization

It’s got a new cover. It’s grown from 20 to 130 pages, has an index, and a a bunch of sample agreements you can use with your independent contractors.
Here’s what you’ll find inside:

 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Can You Pay a Volunteer?

Chapter 2: Paying Board Members and Other Leaders

Chapter 3: Employee or Independent Contractor? Worker Classification

Chapter 4: Guidelines for Hiring Independent Contractors

Chapter 5: Tax Forms for Independent Contractors

Chapter 6: Payroll Taxes for Employers

Chapter 7: Tax Forms for Employers

Chapter 8: Sample Independent Contractor Agreements (I include 5 samples agreements: 3 for teachers, one for a speaker and one for other contractors like a bookkeeper)

Chapter 9: Resources

About the Author

Index

Does any of that sound helpful to your homeschool organization?
The book  in paperback will be available November 1.
The ebook version will be available in a few more weeks.
If you sign up for my email list, you will be sent a coupon code for 20% off the paperback price of $9.95.
Carol Topp, CPA

Paying Workers update will be available November 1

payingworkerscoveroutlined

I’m working hard at getting my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization updated. It’s grown from a 20 page ebook, to a 130 page paperback (ebook version will be available soon as well).

Here’s the Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Can You Pay a Volunteer?
Chapter 2: Paying Board Members and Other Leaders
Chapter 3: Employee or Independent Contractor? Worker Classification
Chapter 4: Guidelines for Hiring Independent Contractors
Chapter 5: Tax Forms for Independent Contractors
Chapter 6: Payroll Taxes for Employers
Chapter 7: Tax Forms for Employers
Chapter 8: Sample Independent Contractor Agreements
Chapter 9: Resources

 

The book is in the editing phase now and I hope it will be ready for sale by November 1st, 2016.

I know that can’t happen quickly enough for some of you! Just this week I received two emails from homeschool leaders asking if they are paying their teachers correctly.

I will also be offering a service to help assist homeschool leaders to make worker determinations. It will be a phone consultation followed up my helpful guidance on the next steps to take.

Be sure to sign up for my email list so you will be notified when the book is ready and when I will be offering worker determination consultations.

Carol Topp, CPA

Summer reading for homeschool leaders: Homeschool Co-ops

 

This summer, I’ll be featuring one of my books for homeschool leaders every few weeks (and offering special discounts!). I’m also updating one of my books this summer…can you guess which one?

I’ll start with my first book for homeschool leaders,

I published this book in 2008 with a different cover. In 2013 I updated it and chose a new cover.
HomeschoolCo-opsCover

Original cover

HS Co-ops Cover_400

Updated cover

This book will help homeschool leaders start and run a homeschool co-op.

It has chapters on:

Part One: Starting a Homeschool Co-op
Chapter One: Benefits of Co-ops
Chapter Two: Disadvantages of Co-ops
Chapter Three: Different Types of Co-ops
Chapter Four: Your First Planning Meeting
Chapter Five: What’s in a Name? Names, Missions

Part Two: Running a Homeschool Co-op
Chapter Six: Leadership
Chapter Seven: Co-op Offerings
Chapter Eight: Money Management
Chapter Nine: Managing Volunteers and Conflict
Chapter Ten: Ready for the Next Step? 501c3 Tax Exempt Status

Part Three: Not Burning Out
Chapter Eleven: Avoiding Burn out

Read a sample chapter

Read more about Homeschool Co-ops the book


Here’s a special for the summer. Buy Homeschool Co-ops at 25% off. Get the paperback version for $7.50 (usual price $9.95) or ebook version for $3.99 (usual price is $4.95).


Order Homeschool Co-ops in paperback

Order Homeschool Co-ops in ebook Kindle  or pdf

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Are homeschool co-op tuition discounts taxable income? Probably!

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Carol,

I see a lot of schools (homeschooling co-ops, private schools, etc) that offer tuition discounts or reduction for parent volunteer hours. If a parent volunteers to teach a  class a few hours a week and receives a tuition reduction for this commitment, is this considered taxable income for the parent?

I have also read this:

“IRS has broadly interpreted a worker’s “compensation” to also include the amount of free or reduced tuition that is given to a parent in consideration for his or her service to the school or church. A worker is no longer considered to be “volunteering” if he or she receives something of value “in kind” for his or her service. In the situation of a working parent whose child is enrolled in the school, it is the student’s waived tuition amount normally charged to nonworking parents that will constitute the worker’s taxable wage amount.”

I would love any follow up information you have about this. Thanks again!

Joanna R.

 

Dear Joanna,

I read the quote you provided with a lot of interest. I did a little research and came across IRS Publication 3079 which, although its title is “Tax Exempt Organizations and Gaming,” had a helpful section titled, “Volunteer Labor”

It stated something I didn’t want to read,

“Compensation is interpreted broadly. A worker who obtains goods or services at a reduced price in return for his services may be considered to be compensated.”

 

When the IRS says “compensated,” they mean taxable income. Ugh! That could mean that hard working volunteers in a homeschool organization, who get a discount on tuition, could have to report and pay taxes on this “compensation.”

But, as with all IRS documents, I kept reading Publication 3079 and found this:

On the other hand, a worker who receives merely insignificant monetary or non-monetary benefits is considered a volunteer, not a compensated worker.
Determining whether a benefit is insignificant requires consideration not only of the value of the benefit but also:
•The quantity and quality of the work performed;
•The cost to the organization of providing the benefit; and
•The connection between the benefit received and the performance of services.
(emphasis added)

 

So, if a co-op gives an insignificant monetary benefit to its volunteers, it is not taxable income. The IRS does not define insignificant, but here ares two examples that might help:

Insignificant benefits to a volunteer
A volunteer teacher was given a $50 discount off her $250 tuition for teaching a class. She put in a minimum of 30 hours preparing and teaching this semester-long class. That’s is an hourly rate of less than $2/hour. That seems pretty insignificant to me! It cost nothing for the co-op to offer this benefit. The co-op offered this discount as an incentive to increase volunteerism and it was not payment for services.

Significant benefits are taxable income
Another co-op gave their director several thousands of dollars in gift cards to grocery stores and Target, gave her children free tuition worth $1,500,  waived all field trip fees, theater ticket fees and registration fees amounting to hundreds more in benefits. These were NOT insignificant and were compensation for her services. The co-op thought that by giving gift cards and reduced tuition they could avoid payroll taxes and the paperwork of hiring and paying their director as an employee. They were wrong! The director should be treated as an employee. She should report all these benefits as taxable compensation.

Conclusion
Homeschool leaders should determine if the benefits of reduced tuition of fees they are giving to volunteers are insignificant. Look to the IRS guidelines in IRS Publication 3079 listed above. If the benefits are significant and are compensation for services, then it needs to be reported as taxable income to the worker/volunteer.

I can help you determine if your fee waivers or discounts are “insignificant.” Just contact me.

My ebook Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization can help you determine the paperwork and reporting for workers.

Carol Topp, CPA

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