California’s new ABC test for Independent Contractors. How will it affect homeschool groups?

California’s new law (AB5) puts into affect the 2018 ruling by the California Supreme Court in the Dynamex case that makes it more difficult to treat workers as Independent Contractors. The new law uses an ABC test introduced in the Dynamex case. It’s a simple 3-part test that makes it more difficult to legally pay workers as Independent Contractors.

The California Supreme Court said that the worker could only be an independent contractor if each (meaning ALL) of these three factors was met:

  1. The worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact and
  2. The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business and
  3. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.

I recorded a podcast episode about the ABC test when it first came out. ABC Test for Independent Contractors (podcast episode)


How does this affect homeschool groups?

  • If your homeschool group is a nonprofit organization, these employment laws apply to your organization. Your nonprofit status (with or without 501c3 tax exempt status) does not exempt your organization from obeying the employment laws of the IRS and your state.
  • If you’re in a homeschool business, such as a CC Community, then you are affected by this ruling, especially if you live in California.
  • If you are an all-volunteer homeschool program (no one is paid), then this law does not affect you. 🙂

This blog post explains why I believe most teachers in a homeschool program should be paid as teachers: Why I think most homeschool teachers should be paid as employees


I’m a homeschool group leader. What do I need to do?

If you live in California, convert your teachers/tutors to employees starting January 1, 2020.

If you live in another state, strongly consider having me (or another qualified CPA) do a worker determination. There may be changes you can make to your homeschool program that are simple and inexpensive.

Will this spread to other states? What about the IRS?

Probably. I predict within 5 years, most states will adopt something like the California ABC test for Independent Contractor status.

So far the IRS is not using the ABC test, but they use similar criteria that causes me to conclude teachers in a homeschool program should be treated as employees not Independent Contractors. Read my reasons.

Which law do I follow? State or Federal/IRS?

The general rule is that you must follow whichever law is most generous to employees (not yourself as the employer or hirer). Federal and state default status is that workers are employees. The burden of proof is on the employer (your homeschool group) to prove they are eligible for independent contractor status.

I talked to a CPA about this a few years ago and he said we’re fine

or

My CC SR or AR said I’m OK treating my tutors as ICs; their lawyers know about the situation.

A worker determination should be in writing on the letter head of either a CPA, Enrolled Agent or attorney. Only those three professions are allowed to practice before the IRS. This determination, in writing and on the letterhead of the professional, may help abate any penalties for misclassifying workers if the IRS or your state audits you.

Do not rely on verbal statements. Do not reply on verbal statements made by CPAs, EAs or attorneys. Get it in writing. Do not reply on verbal statements made by non-CPAs, non-EAs or non-attorneys, no matter how reassuring they are that they have talked with a professional. Get an opinion specific to your organization in writing.

Ask for a statement in writing addressed to your particular business/nonprofit from a qualified professional who has assessed your situation in particular.

 

What if the parents pay the teachers directly?

or

My CC tutors are now sublicensees, not my Independent Contractors; I’ve been told that is OK.

The fact that you (as the homeschool group or homeschool business owners) do not pay the worker does seem to avoid the worker classification issue, but it introduces at least two other issues:

  1. You cannot control, supervise or direct that worker. They are their own business owner and you have no opportunity to oversee their methods or their performance. You cannot direct them; you cannot supervise them. Do you really want that? Would your parents accept this? You’re working with children, don’t you need to supervise and direct the people teaching the children?
  2. If you host your program at a church or other property-tax exempt facility (like a library), then the teacher/sublicensee tutor is conducting his or her business on church property. Does your church host know this? They may have a policy against conducting business on their property because it threatens their property tax exemption. Please refer to my Property Tax FAQ page for more information.

How can I learn more about paying workers?

My book will help


Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization

  • Have a payroll consultation with Mary Musick, CPA (inactive) and current homeschool mom. Mary runs a bookkeeping service and will discuss payroll with you. It may not be as awful as you fear since you are probably hiring part-time, seasonal employees with no benefits. Her email is hfbkkpg@gmail.com.
  • Or have a payroll consultation with Jamie Buckland, The Classical Homeschool Consultant. Jamie runs payroll herself for her homeschool classical academy. She can do research on what your state payroll taxes are and reassure that if she can do it, you can do it! Jamie’s website is https://jamiebuckland.net/
Understand your risk, your legal and tax requirements, get compliant and get help! We don’t want homeschool organizations to get in trouble with the IRS or state agencies.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Top 10 Tips for Homeschool Leaders: Paying Workers

 

Lots of homeschool groups hire and pay teachers to conduct classes. Sometimes these teachers are homeschool parents, but sometimes they are professional instructors. Homeschool leaders have a lot of questions about paying teachers and other workers.

 

 

Topics in this episode include:

• Independent Contractor or employee
• The factors the IRS considers in classifying workers
• What if parents pay teachers directly?
• How paying teachers affects your church host
• Can Independent Contractors receive tuition discounts

This is the fourth part of a 5-part series on Top 10 Tips for Homeschool Leaders, a workshop given to homeschool leaders in Wichita, Kansas.

Each episode can be found at HomeschoolCPA.com/Podcast. In the 5-part podcast series Carol will cover:
Episode # 180 Board duties
Episode # 181 Bylaws
Episode # 182 Preventing fraud
Episode # 183 Paying Workers
Episode # 184 Insurance and Record keeping

 

Featured Resource:

Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization
Are you paying workers in your homeschool organization?

• Can a volunteer be paid?
• Should a worker be treated as an employee or independent contractor?
• Do you know the difference?

Homeschool leader and CPA, Carol Topp, has the answers to your questions in her book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization.
This 130 page book covers paying workers as employees or independent contractors. There are also chapters on paying volunteers and board members. It includes sample forms, tips and advice to help you pay workers in accordance with the IRS laws to help your organization pay their workers correctly. Written specifically for homeschool organizations.

 

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What does it cost to get tax exempt status?

How much does it cost to be a 501c3? My homeschool group is new and we don’t have a lot of money.
-Homeschool leader

 

Dear homeschool leader,

It’s not as expensive to apply for 501c3 tax exempt status as it used to be, especially if your organization is small (revenues less than $50,000/year) and is eligible to file the shorter IRS Form 1023-EZ.

Here’s an explanation of the cost to get 501c3 status from my webinar on 501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits

This webinar (90 minutes total length) will explain the benefits of tax exempt status, the application process and walk you through the application Form 1023-EZ line-by-line. At the end of the webinar you’ll be equipped to apply for tax exempt status by yourself. The cost of the webinar is $25.

 

Get more information on the webinar 501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Tips for Starting a Tiny Homeschool Group

 

Carol,

What are the absolute essential things a small growing co-op needs to do to organize and avoid future headaches? We are entirely run by volunteers, and moms are required to remain on site, either teaching or assisting in some way. Right now we have 13 families and 35 kids ranging from infant to 10th grade.

-C Wilson

 

Dear C,

While the bigger homeschool groups get most of the attention on this website, tiny homeschool groups are abundant.

You asked an excellent question. I created a 4-part podcast series to help answer your question.

 

And here’s a blog post that sounds very similar to your group:

12 moms want to start a homeschool co-op. How to get started

 

My ebook Homeschool Board Member Manual may be very helpful. It’s a way to organize your group’s important paperwork and a board training guide.

 

Finally, tiny homeschool leaders are encouraged to join the Facebook group for homeschool leaders I am a Homeschool Group Leader. Join over 1,000 other leaders for support and information.

 

That’s a lot to help you get started! Divvy up the jobs. Don’t start even a tiny homeschool group on your own. Gather a board  and start learning together!

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Helping Homeschool Leaders

Top 10 Tips for Homeschool Leaders: Preventing Fraud

 

Let’s hope fraud or embezzlement never happens in your homeschool group! Do you have safeguards to spot it and prevent it?

In the podcast Carol mentions her list of “Best Practices to Prevent Fraud.” Find it here.

 

This is the third part of a 5-part series on Top 10 Tips for Running a Homeschool Group, a workshop given to homeschool leaders in Wichita, Kansas. You will probably find many of the audience questions would be a question you might ask as well!

Each episode can be found at HomeschoolCPA.com/Podcast. In the 5 part podcast series Carol will cover:

Episode # 180 Board duties

Episode # 181 Bylaws

Episode # 182 Preventing fraud

Episode # 183 Paying Workers

Episode # 184 Insurance and Record keeping

 

You might find Carol’s podcast series for Tiny Homeschool groups helpful

Tiny Homeschool Groups: Are We a Nonprofit?

 

Featured Resource

Money Management in a Homeschool Organization

  • Does your homeschool group manage their money well?
  • Do you have a budget and know where the money is spent?
  • Do you know how to prevent fraud?

This 115 page book will help you to open a checking account, establish a budget, prevent mistakes and fraud, use software to keep the books, prepare a financial statement and hire workers. Sample forms and examples of financial statements in clear English are provided.

Click here for more information

 

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Change your homeschool group’s name on your EIN

Carol,

Our homeschool group formed a nonprofit corporation in our state with the name Grace Home School Organization. We just discovered that our EIN with the IRS has Grace Homeschool Organization with  “Homeschool” as one word, not two words. What do we do?

Dave

 

Dave,

The name on your incorporation paperwork takes legal precedent over the name on the EIN, so you need to notify the IRS that there is an error in the EIN’s name. Here is what I found on how to change your name on your EIN.

https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/change-of-name-exempt-organizations

Write a letter to  IRS Exempt Organization (P.O. Box 2508  Cincinnati, OH 45201) or Fax: (855) 204-6184. Include a copy of the amendment to the Articles of Association, Constitution, or other organizing document (i.e., original Articles of Incorporation) , showing the effective date of the change of name and signed by at least two officers, trustees or members.

The letter or fax reporting the change of name must include your organization’s 

  • full name (both the prior name and the new name) 
  • Employer Identification Number and 
  • authorized signature (an officer or trustee) 

The individual signing the letter must state the capacity in which he or she is signing (for example, “John Smith, President”).

 

Include a copy of your original incorporation paperwork (Articles of Incorporation) from your state proving your legal name is Grace Home School Organization. The IRS should simply correct the incorrect spelling of “Home School” on the EIN.


Have you set up your homeschool group as a nonprofit corporation? Do you know the benefits and the process?

Carol Topp’s webinar Create a Nonprofit for Your Homeschool Community walks you through the steps of forming a nonprofit and getting incorporated in your state.


 

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Top 10 Tips for Homeschool Leaders: Bylaws

“Are bylaws and a board really necessary or is that only for homeschool groups that are 501c3 nonprofits?” was a great question asked by a homeschool leader at a workshop given to homeschool leaders in Wichita, Kansas.

In this second part of a 5-part series on Top 10 Tips for Running a Homeschool Group, Carol Topp, CPA, will answer that question and discuss bylaws and boards. She even explains IRS 501c3 tax exempt status too!

 

Each episode can be found at HomeschoolCPA.com/Podcast. In the 5 part podcast series Carol will cover:

Episode # 180 Board duties

Episode # 181 Bylaws

Episode # 182 Preventing fraud

Episode # 183 Paying Workers

I Episode # 184 Insurance and Record keeping

 

In the podcast Carol mentions how a tiny homeschool group should maintain its tax exempt status by filing and annual IRS Form 990-N. Here’s how to do that:

How to get added to the IRS database and file the Form 990N

 

You might find Carol’s podcast series for Tiny Homeschool groups helpful

Tiny Homeschool Groups: Are We a Nonprofit?

 

Featured Resource:

 

Start a Nonprofit and Get Tax Exempt 3-webinar set

Webinars are a great way to learn!

This 3-webinar set will help your homeschool group get established as a nonprofit, apply for IRS 501c3 tax exempt status and maintain it with IRS and state annual reports!

Everything you need to know in an easy-to-understand video format. This set includes the 3 videos (90 minutes each), an ebook The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization by Carol Topp, CPA, the slide handouts, IRS forms, and templates to help you apply for 501c3 status on your own!

Learn more.

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Can my individual homeschool have a fund raiser?

Can we (an individual homeschool) be allowed to do fund raising similar to youth sports groups, scouts,etc?

What a good question. In general I say, Yes, you can participate in a fund raiser if the fund raising organization allows it. BUT, the profit you make is taxable income and you’ll need to report it on your tax return.

Another homeschooling mom e-mailed me with a similar question:

With 6 children needing school curriculum, we are coming up short in finances. We contacted a calendar company that said it would be permissible for us to sell calendars as a fund raiser for our homeschool. We accepted personal checks made out to our homeschool name (that we registered with the state school board, considered a non-profit private school). We do not have a checking account with our homeschool name on it. Therefore, we have no way to deposit them.

What is your advice to us? The checks amounted to $90. Is this method acceptable to continue as long as we pay taxes on it? Mrs. W.

By selling calendars Mrs W. was operating a small for-profit business. She is free to use the profit of the small business for anything she wishes, including homeschool books and supplies. Since Mrs W. didn’t mention what state she was in, I cannot determine if her state requires business registration. Many states do not require any type of registration for a sole proprietorship using your own name. You may have to file a name registration with your Secretary of State to establish a business name.

To deposit these checks Mrs W. needs to open a checking account in the homeschool’s name. You’ll have to get an EIN number from the IRS at www.irs.gov. You can then spend the money in the checking account on homeschool supplies and close it or keep a small amount in it until next year.

Mrs W. should report the $90 as income on her tax return as either Other Income on line 21 of the 1040 or on Schedule C Business Income if she had expenses from the sale of the calendars (postage, mileage, etc…)

Quite a lot of work for a $90 fund raiser, huh?

Before you try a fund raiser for you individual family homeschool make sure its worth the effort of getting a business name, EIN, and checking account.

Is it worth the time and effort for the money you will raise?
Maybe try having a garage sale or sell something to bring in income instead!

My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization covers fundraising and offers some ideas for easy fundraisers.

 

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Top 10 Tips for Homeschool Leaders: Board Duties

Homeschool Leaders: Board duties

What does it take to be a board member of a homeschool group? Is it just attending meetings? Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA explains the 4 duties of nonprofit board members:

Duty of Care, Loyalty, Compliance and Management.

 

This is the first part of a 5-part series on Top 10 Tips for Running a Homeschool Group, a workshop given to homeschool leaders in Wichita, Kansas. You will probably find many of the audience questions would be a question you might ask as well!

Each episode can be found at HomeschoolCPA.com/Podcast. In the 5 part podcast series Carol will cover:

Episode # 180 Board duties

Episode # 181 Bylaws

Episode # 182 Preventing fraud

Episode # 183 Paying Workers

Episode # 184 Insurance and Record keeping

 

 

Featured Product

The Board Manual for homeschool organizations will be very helpful to organize your board and run your homeschool organization successfully!

Author and homeschool advisor, Carol Topp, CPA, has created a Homeschool Organization Board Manual. It is a template to create a board member binder. It has:

  • A list of important documents to keep in your binder
  • Section dividers so you can organize the important papers
  • Tools to help you run your meetings smoothly including
  • A sample agenda that you can use over and over again
  • A calendar of board meetings

But this is more than just a few cover sheets for your binder. It is also a 55-page board training manual with helpful articles on:

  • Suggested Board Meeting Topic List
  • Board Duties
  • Job Descriptions for Board of Directors
  • What Belongs in the Bylaws?
  • Compensation and Benefits for Board Members
  • Best Financial Practices Checklist
  • How to Read and Understand Financial Statements
  • Developing a Child Protection Policy

Read more about the Homeschool Organization Board Manual

 

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Insurance Providers for Homeschool Groups

There have been a lot of homeschool leaders sharing helpful information on insurance for homeschool groups on the I Am a Homeschool Group Leader Facebook group. (Come join us!)

Be aware that insurance is licensed by the states, so many insurance plans are limited to only a few states where they are licensed.

Here are insurance providers in no particular order that other homeschool groups have used and comments from homeschool leaders:

 

We use Erie Insurance. If you are in a state that they service, I can’t recommend them enough. The agent was responsive, answered my endless questions about the policy and the many what if’s I could think of, and they came in significantly cheaper than the NCG quote. The best part was they set us up on the same type of policy that a school would use (they were well aware of the type of co-op we were), so every year they can adjust my coverage based on the number of students.

Mennonite Mutual was least expensive for us.

Brotherhood Mutual. They were more reasonable and better insurance in my opinion. https://www.brotherhoodmutual.com

NCG (National Church Group) sold through HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) https://ncginsurance.com/home-school-insurance-solutions

There were concerns that NCG did not cover children ages 0-3 years old. As of August 29, 2019, they agreed to extend coverage to children in nursery care (ages 0-3 years) during homeschool group activities effective immediately.

This coverage will be available for an additional premium for nursery exposures within any homeschool co-op, support group, or Classical Conversations community.

The premium charge for this coverage is:Accident Medical – $20 flat charge and General Liability – $100 flat charge

For more info, contact NCG customer service  at homeschoolsupport@ncginsurance.com or at 833-409-8500.

Church Mutual will write policies for nonprofits. One leader said this,” They sent an agent to our building and she sat with me for two hours to understand our programs and needs. She made certain they cover what we need and do. AND, it was less than HALF the quote I got from Brotherhood! Its a really good rate in our opinion.”

I received a quote from Pro Insurance Managers for less than $300. It is event only general liability for the days we meet to do our program (18x/year). For us, a group just starting out, would this be a good choice? PRO Insurance Managers 1-877-CALL-PRO

Church Insurance Specialists, Inc. (in WV, OH, or PA). Contact Ron Shirey at 814-618-5532. You must have a board of directors, you may be an unincorporated association or an incorporated nonprofit, and you must have a religious purpose.

The policy will include general liability, a minimum of $1,000 personal property, sexual misconduct & abuse, accident medical, daycare exposure(for 3 & under), and directors & officers. He said the average quote is $2,000. Churches can be named as additional insured to cover their property.

Have employees? They can also quote you a worker’s comp policy and they offer a payroll service. For more information about their payroll service call 1-866-215-5540 and leave a message in the sales department.

 


Jamie Buckland, Classical Program Consultant gave an excellent webinar on insurance and a summary of questions you should ask your insurance provider when shopping for a policy.

Homeschool Risk 101: Understanding It & Transferring It

I attended the webinar and learned a ton! Very worth the low cost of $12.


Carol Topp, CPA

Helping Homeschool Leaders