Can homeschoolers take the $250 educator tax credit?

Educator Tax Deduction for Homeschoolers?


The IRS gives a $250 tax deduction to educators for unreimbursed supplies they spend in the classroom.


Can homeschoolers take this deduction?

The IRS guidelines say to be an eligible educator:

“You work at least 900 hours a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education, as determined under state law.”

To work means to get paid for your work as a teacher-employee. Homeschool parents are not employees of a school. We do not get paid; we do not get a W-2. The IRS will check for a W-2 from a school if a taxpayer takes the Educator Expense deduction. Homeschoolers would not have a W-2 from a school, even if your state classifies your homeschool as a private school.

The Educator Expense Deduction was initiated by President Geo W. Bush. It expired with all the other Bush tax cuts,on December 31, 2011. It will not be available for 2012 unless renewed by Congress.

I do not recommend that homeschool parents take the Educators Expense deduction. Sorry.

Carol Topp, CPA

P.S. Here are my required “lawyer” words:
Internal Revenue Service Circular 230 Disclosure: Advice relating to federal taxes that is contained in this communication (including attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

Unplug the Christmas machine


About 18 years ago, I read Unplug the Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Staeheli.

It changed the way I see and celebrate Christmas.


I created a mini ebook to share what I learned about having a happier, debt free Christmas.

Carol Topp’s Plan for a Debt Free Christmas (click to download)

I include tips, a funny poem and a recipe that eliminates holiday baking.

  • Give yourself permission to break old habits and discover new traditions.
  • Eliminate or greatly reduce Christmas baking. This will save time, money and gym fees in January! I quit baking
    Christmas cookies several years ago. I now bake a less fattening Christmas bread from my grandmother’s native country of Finland called pulla (recipe in the ebook). I will bake cookies only if I know they will be given to someone else or taken to a party within one day of baking. I keep less than one dozen for my family.
  • Don’t kid yourself that homemade cards or gifts are less expensive. They cost in time, frustration, supplies, etc.

I hope you enjoy the mini ebook Carol Topp’s Plan For A Debt-Free Christmas.


Merry Christmas!

Carol Topp, CPA


Teaching Kids About Money radio interview

I’m being interviewed on The Sociable Homeschooler today (Friday July 22, 2011) at 9 am EST on teaching our kids about money and starting a micro business.

Listen in at

(titled “Worm Farms and More: Carol Topp,” dated 7-22-2011; starts about 14 minutes in)

View the handout with helpful resources: How to Teach Your Kids About Money

Link to my site mentioned in the radio program: Micro Business for

(this is a great curriculum to teach in a homeschool co-op!)

Hope you enjoy the show!

Carol Topp, CPA

Can I homeschool a friend’s child?

Hi Carol,

I would really like to homeschool my 3 children next year and would also like to pick up my daughter’s best friend as well. She and her mother have expressed an interest in having me homeschool her. I live in Maryland and am having a hard time finding info on whether or not I can do that and how to go about it. Do you have any info on that kind of thing? From what I understand, I would have to start up a small business. My question is would I have to be a licensed childcare provider? She is 9 years old, and her brother is 4 and I was considering schooling him also.

Thanks ahead of time for any help you can give me!

I’m not an attorney nor familiar with MD homeschool laws, so you’ll have to do some homework on whether it is legal to homeschool other people’s children.

Some states allow it; others apply restrictions. Many states do not address it at all!

Start with this helpful diagram from Homeschool Legal Advantage:

and this explanation from HSLDA:

You could also contact the Maryland Home education Association at

Then at the A to Z Home’’s Cool website ( I found this comment on using tutors and ‘alternative resources’ from the President of the Homeschool Association of Harford & Surrounding Areas

On the issue of tutoring and how much or use of alternative resource a homeschoolers uses, this is a huge NON issue. As long as the parents are overseeing the homeschooling program there is no issue or fear of using educational services.

I hope that’s a start!

P.S. For those of you outside of MD, You’ll have to do some homework for the homeschooling laws in your state. The links I share are a good place to start!

Carol Topp, CPA

Homeschool Business and Entrepreneur Directory (FREE!)

Homeschool Business and Entrepreneur Directory™has just been released this week by Paul and Gena Suarez, the publishers of  The Old Schoolhouse magazine.
This digital magazine is being sent out to homeschool families around the world.

And it’s free to everyone!

HomeschoolBusiness Directory

Feel free to pass this link to your friends. The directory is 200 pages and shares the following:

  • What kind of homeschooler are you?
  • What is your homeschooling style?
  • Unit Studies
  • Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
  • Eclectic Homeschooling
  • Classical Homeschooling
  • Homeschoolers in business
  • The Relaxed Homeschooling Lifestyle
  • Special needs homeschooling
  • Gifted homeschoolers

I have a few articles and ads in the Directory including:

  • p. 38 “The Ten (Unusual)Roles You’ll Play as a Work-At-Home-Mom” article
  • p. 46 “Accountant to Author: A Home Business Journey” article
  • p. 47 my ad for Micro Business for Teens, my new book series
  • p. 124 my ad for my small business consulting and accounting services at
  • p. 134 my ad for, my website for homeschool leaders

The Homeschool Business and Entrepreneur Directory™ is full of article on homeschooling and a huge directory of resources and entrepreneurs ready to serve the homeschooling community!

Look and see!

Carol Topp, CPA

Blog Carnival: All Things Austen

I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen, one of the finest authors ever. Like many girls of her age, Jane was homeschooled learning reading, writing, music, dancing and foreign language from her home in the Stevenson Rectory in Hampshire, England in the early 1800s.

One of my favorite Jane Austen quotes reminds me of many homeschool mothers:

“Your mother must have been a slave to your education”-Lady Catherine de Berg, Pride and Prejudice

Mrs Bennet and her five daughters

Indeed, we do sometimes feel like slaves to our children’s education. I hope the blog posts shared here encourage you and lighten the load, just a bit!

A woman (or gentleman) of Jane Austen’s era had many facets to her education including reading, writing, art, music, dancing and more to be considered an “accomplished woman.” I hope you enjoy these blog posts on homeschooling.

Extensive Reading

Mr. Darcy claims an accomplished woman demands, “something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.” Pride and Prejudice

Lexi offers The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading posted at Lextin Academy of Classical Education.

Lynn presents Summers Here! Does the Learning Stop? posted at Eclectic Education.

Jenn Schwilling, who reads extensively, presents A Great Reader? posted at DaisyChain Daily Carnival.

Denise asks if a girl and a half can read a book and a half in a day and a half, then how many books can one girl read in the month of June? in Rate Puzzle: How Fast Does She Read? posted at Let’s Play Math!.

Writing and Accounts

“Writing and accounts she was taught by her father;  French by her mother.” Northanger Abbey

TristanDR makes lapbooks of her unit studies as she discusses in Our Civil War Plans posted at Our Busy Homeschool.

Here’s a neat writing exercise to try in your homeschool: A six word story. Tom DeRosa presents A Lifetime in Six Words? Possible. posted at I Want to Teach Forever.


“At my time of life opinions are tolerably fixed. It is not likely that I should now see or hear anything to change them.” Marianne in Sense and Sensibility

Deana at The Frugal Homeschooling Mom explains some of the reasons she chose homeschooling for her family in Why Do I Homeschool?

ChristineMM of The Thinking Mother tells about a very busy spring and how that has affected her family’s leisure time as well as helping her let go of unnecessary material possessions, including homeschool curriculum and books in Material Stuff We Own

Pamela tuns a field trip into a philosophical talk about politics and economics in Flower Fields posted at Blah, Blah, Blog

Is there such a thing as “too much” socialization? Read one mom’s opinion and share yours at Lesson Pathways (Christina S.) How Much is “Too Much”? posted at Lesson Pathways Blog.

Janine write about her thoughts on the test results of her daughters in Test Results at
Why Homeschool

Leisure and Games

Jane Austen and her contemporaries spent many hours playing card games such as whist and cribbage, charades, word games and puzzles. They enhance logic and math skills.

Being able to perform mathematical tricks is a great way to build student confidence. Sol Lederman presents Terrific Tic Tac Toe Trick posted at Wild About Math!.

Have you ever taken a math field trip? Tracy Beach presents Math Learning Field Trip Ideas for Homeschoolers posted at Math Learning, Fun & Education Blog : Dreambox Learning.

Art & Music

I couldn’t decide whether to put this post under Reading or Art because it combines the two. Jane Austen would have been charmed! Maureen Spell presents Read & Do: My Heart is Like a Zoo posted at Spell Out Loud.

Summer is a nice time to try a mini co-op. Here’s a cute idea for a music co-op that is simple but fun and memorable! Plan a summer mini music co-op

Katherine found here are plenty of cultural activities available for children, even in her tiny town in Maine. sign us up! posted at No Fighting, No Biting!.

Mom can study art and be an accomplished woman! ~Kris~ presents Time for Mom: Drawing posted at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.


“There is nothing like dancing after all. I consider it as one of the finest refinements of polished societies.” Sir William Lucas, Pride and Prejudice

Dawn writes about her local homeschool group’s annual cotillion. It’s a wonderful idea that teaches manners and etiquette! Hold a homeschool cotillion

The Accomplished Woman

“A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing and the modern languages…” Caroline Bingley, Pride and Prejudice

Laura Grace Weldon presents Transferring Enthusiasm posted at Laura Grace Weldon. There is something vitally important transmitted when one person’s enthusiasm sets off a spark in others. This sort of spirit can’t be reproduced in any curriculum. That’s why, whenever possible, we learn from people who are passionate.

Christine Field is an accomplished woman in the field of law (no pun intended). She is offering a free year of legal representation (and a bonus) to homeschooling families as Barbara Frank Online describes in Free Legal Coverage for Homeschooling Families

e-Mom presents an excerpt from an interview with author Jill Savage Living With Less so Your Family Has More posted at C h r y s a l i s ?.

The Educated Man

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy

“His mind is well informed, his enjoyment of books exceedingly great, his imagination lively, his  observation just and correct, and his taste delicate and pure” Elinor describing Edward Farrers in Sense and Sensibility.

C.L. Dyck presents The World as Narrative posted at Scita > Scienda. A post from Scienda guest blogger Marc Schooley — beautiful writing by an intelligent man: “The world is a narrative, not a science project.” Marc muses on hurricanes of change, the passing of his father, and the final homecoming of heaven.

Rhonda Miller discovers the bent her two sons have in their learning styles in Bent Homeschooling posted at Parent Community and Forum.

Dave Roller shares a few things he picked up (literally and figuratively) at a recent home school convention in Conventional Wisdom posted at Home School Dad.

Get your boys interested in reading Jane Austen! Robin Phillips shares how in Jane Austen for Boys: 7 Topics to Inspire Their Reading posted at Crack the Egg.

I hoped you enjoyed this Carnival of Homeschooling: All Things Austen.

Next week’s host will be Roscommon Acres.

Milestone: Graduation Day for my first born!

Today, my first born , Emily, will graduate from high school.  this is quite a milestone in her life and mine.  12 years of homeschooling! It’s been a privilege and an honor.  I’ve lea093rned so much by homeschooling her, and of course she has learned a lot, too!

I won’t say it’s been pure joy, bit it comes close. 3rd grade was pretty rough with lots of phone calls to the “principal” (my husband at work) about her stubbornness.  Put two type A, opinionated people together and you’ll have some conflict.  But in the end we are so much closer for working it out instead of giving up. High school has been great. It is fun and exciting to see her grow and develop.

Congratulations Emily! Your dad and I are very proud of you.

Carol Topp, CPA