Box Tops now requires 501c3 status for homeschool groups

Box Tops for Education now requires homeschool groups to have 501c3 tax exempt status with the IRS in order to participate.

Bad news.

Box Tops for Education now requires homeschool groups to have 501c3 tax exempt status with the IRS in order to participate.

Here’s what their website states:

“Eligibility is also available to IRS recognized 501(c)(3) home school associations in the United States, organized and operated primarily for educational purposes and containing a class of 15 or more students from Kindergarten to 8th grade.”


This means that support groups that are considered 501c7 social clubs by the IRS are not eligible to participate.

It may also mean that tiny co-ops with gross revenues under $5,000 who are considered tax exempt by the IRS, but have no written determination letter (i.e. proof) may not be eligible.

There is also no clear word if current groups will be “grandfathered in” and allowed to continue to participate.


What can a homeschool group do?

1. Discontinue the Box Tops program. (Bummer).

2. Complain to Box Tops for Education. I’m happy to help you compose a letter with some information regarding the tax status of most co-ops if you think it would help.

3. Apply for 501c3 tax exempt status. Start by reading my articles here:

4. Work with your state homeschool organization if they have 501c3 tax exempt status. In VA, a local group mails their Box Tops to the state organization (HEAV). The state homeschool organization then takes about half of the money from Box Tops and sends the local group the other half. It might work for you, although you give up a portion of the funds.


Carol Topp, CPA


  1. Carol,

    You assisted us with our 501c3 and I just got off the phone with BoxTops for Education. Part of their requirements include official mail received (our letter from the IRS will suffice), full roster with first name and grade level, and lesson plans for each grade level/subject. The supervisor on the phone said “what they are doing everyday”. After I explained to her that we do not MEET everyday and curriculum varies by family she said then we would not qualify.

    But we are a 501c3 and educational, meeting weekly. Our activities are educational. Have you had any organization experience this response? I could tell she DID NOT understand how homeschooling works or associations.

    What would you recommend to remedy this situation? Should we abandon BoxTops altogether?

  2. How annoying, especially when you know that other homeschool groups are participating in Box Tops.

    In general, General Mills/Box Tops gets to decide who can participate and who cannot. (sigh…)

    I’ll put your question out on the Facebook group, I am a Homeschool Group Leader. Are you part of the group? It’s excellent.
    We’ll see if they have any ideas.

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