The IRS Says Our Homeschool Group is a Private Foundation. Is that Correct?

Carol,
I am wondering if we can get some clarification from you. I am looking through this IRS document we received after we reapplied for 501c3 tax exempt status per your direction back in January.

It says we have been determined to be a 501(c)(3) private foundation and are required to file a 990-PF.

I feel like this information is incorrect, am I right in thinking this? 

Thank you,
Ashley


Ashley,

Oh dear. This is very unfortunate.

I guess that whoever filled out the 1023-EZ checked the box saying your homeschool group was a private foundation rather than a public charity.

Almost all homeschool organizations are public charities not private foundations.

What’s a private foundation?

Private foundations are funded by an individual, family, or a corporation, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or the Ford Foundation.These individuals and corporations typically make large donations to the foundation. The foundation invests the donations. The goal of the foundation is to distribute the income from their investments to charitable works like universities or medical research.

So what’s a public charity?

On the other hand public charities are funded by the general public through donations, membership fees, or activities related to their exempt function.

Most homeschool organization receive their funds from membership fees, tuition, field trip fees, and class fees. They are not private foundations.

Almost all homeschool programs are public charities.

Why does it matter?

There are several reasons why being classified as a public charity rather than a private foundation is important:

  • Private foundations must distribute their income from their investments every year or pay taxes. In addition, private foundations must pay an excise tax on net investment income.
  • The annual report for a private foundation is the complex, multi-page form called the 990-PF. It will take a CPA to help you prepare this beast of a form. But small public charities can file the IRS Form 990-N electronically every year by themselves!
  • Dissolving a private foundation involves either paying an IRS fee or distributing the funds to another established private foundation. it’s complex to dissolve a private foundation and will probably require an attorney and a CPA.
  • Private foundations must to make public their list of contributors; pubic charities do not have to make their donor list public.
  • Private foundations are highly regulated by the Tax Code and subject to a host of technical rules and restrictions that do not apply to public charities.

The cause of the mistake

Here’s a snapshot of the Form 1023-EZ application for 501c3 status where a homeschool organization tells the IRS how it receives its funding.

The homeschool program that emailed me checked the wrong box on the Form 1023-EZ and said they were a private foundation when they are not.

How to avoid this mistake

This mistake could have been avoided.

I offered my services to help this homeschool group with the Form 1023-EZ While my fee is $300, I also pointed the leaders to a $25 webinar where I go though the Form 1023-EZ line-by-line and I explain the difference between public charity and private foundation.

This homeschool group never purchased my services or even my webinar, thinking they could save time and money. 🙁


The webinar on 501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits costs only $25. In addition to the 90 minute webinar, you get a copy of my ebook The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization.


How to fix the mistake

To request the IRS change the status of Ashley’s homeschool program from private foundation to public charity, it must file IRS Form 8940. The form looks easy, but it is all the supporting documents and the explanation to the IRS that are the quite complex and burdensome.

Ashley will need to give the IRS a lot more documentation including bylaws and financial statements than she did when filling the Form 1023-EZ application.

I will charge Ashley’s organization $200 to request a change to public charity with the IRS on Form 8940. The IRS fee is an additional $500.

So a $700 expense could have been avoid by paying $25 and watching my webinar!

Don’t make the same mistake!

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Stuck inside doing your taxes?

Are you stuck inside because of illness, social distancing, or the corona virus?
Well, it’s a good time to work on your tax return!
(Not what you wanted to hear, I’m sure!)


I hear from lots of CC Directors and tutors about their taxes. It can be confusing running a business, paying tutors, etc.

If you’re confused about takes, I have a book for you!

I am pleased and proud to announce my latest book, Taxes for Homeschool Business Owners!
Read more here.

I have spoken and emailed with so many CC Directors, tutors and teachers at homeschool programs that are confused about their taxes. This is my attempt to keep you out of trouble with the IRS!

This ebook is a great resource for:

  • Tutors or teachers for a homeschool program paid as an Independent Contractor
  • Classical Conversations(R) Directors
  • CC tutors
  • Coaches, musicians, artists, etc. hired to teach at a homeschool co-op


The ebook is 60 pages long and contains information on

  • Business Start Up
  • LLC status
  • Tax Deductions
  • Tax Forms
  • Sample Tax Returns
  • Self Employment Tax
  • Paying Yourself
  • Paying Others
  • Businesses Using Churches
  • Should My Homeschool Program Be a Nonprofit?

I hope you find the ebook and the webinar helpful this tax season!

Taxes for Homeschool Business Owners ebook

I am pleased and proud to announce my latest book, Taxes for Homeschool Business Owners!
Read more here.


I wrote this book because I have spoken and emailed with so many homeschool business owners that are confused about their taxes. This is my attempt to keep you put of trouble with the IRS!

Thank you so much for the tax resources you put out there, it’s been super helpful for me as a director of our CC Homeschool campus! -Jessica


The ebook is 60 pages long and contains information on

  • Business Start Up
  • LLC status
  • Tax Deductions
  • Tax Forms
  • Sample Tax Returns
  • Self Employment Tax
  • Paying Yourself
  • Paying Others
  • Businesses Using Churches
  • Should My Homeschool Program Be a Nonprofit?

This ebook is a great resource for:

  • Tutors or teachers for a homeschool program paid as an Independent Contractor
  • Classical Conversations(R) Directors
  • CC tutors
  • Coaches, musicians, artists, etc. hired to teach at a homeschool co-op

As we do our taxes this year I am thankful for your knowledge and being willing to share it. I GUARANTEE many women WEREN’T doing their taxes correctly. -Julie


Please do not share the ebook file with other people or post the ebook file on the internet. If you know someone who would be helped by the book, please send them to this page and they can purchase their own copy.
Share this link: HomeschoolCPA.com/TAXESHSBIZ


I hope you find the ebook helpful this tax season!

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

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

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

Homeschool groups and fundraisers. Do you know what your state requires?

Michelle asked a question about fund raisers in a homeschool group:

Hi Carol,
We have had fund raisers in the past (Butterbraids, a frozen pastry) and have made approx. $1,500 doing that fund raiser. We had a cooking class that prepared hot lunches and the co-op made money on those. We will have less than $100 left in the check book. We have a Fed ID #. What do we do? What about next year? Is fund raising not a good idea for us as you say in your website? We thought about charging more for membership (we charge $35/ yr now) and if people wanted to do individual fund raisers that would be up to each family. What do you think? Thank you so much for your help to the homeschool community and for whatever answers you can give us.
Sincerely,
Michelle P

Dear Michelle,

Did I say fund raising is not a good idea? I didn’t mean to. Hopefully, I just warned groups that fund raising can be a lot of work.

Charitable Solicitation filings 
If you hold fundraisers by selling products to the public (outside your own membership) you may need to report your “solicitation” to your state, typically the Attorney General’s office.

In my home state of Ohio, nonprofits have to file a Charity Registration form if they do fund raising to the public. One year my homeschool co-op sold candles door to door and had to file a seven-page financial report with Ohio’s Attorney General Office. That report was such a nuisance (and the fund raiser was so much work) that the co-op no longer does sales to the public.

Investigate what your state requires from groups doing fund raisers. These websites have information on nonprofit reporting requirements by state:

https://www.hurwitasociates.com/

https://www.harborcompliance.com/fundraising-registration

In general I encourage groups to get most of their income from membership fees and not depend too much on fund raising. Fund raising can be very successful or turn out very poorly. It is also a lot of work with sometimes only a few people doing all the work.

Individual fundraisers

I’m not sure what you mean by “individual fund raisers.” I do know that it is not proper to “award” a family for raising more money than another family, nor is it proper to set up individual accounts. It’s not right because it is not in keeping with the nonprofit motive or with the idea of a group benefit. In short, individuals are not supposed to benefit; the group is supposed to benefit.

 

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

 

Are you up to date on your state filing requirements for your homeschool nonprofit organization? Do you even know that your state may require annual reports?

Most states require some reporting from nonprofit organizations on an annual basis. My webinar on IRS and State Filings for Homeschool Nonprofits will explain the state reports and help you research your state’s requirements.

 

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Still time to join the IRS and State Filings for Homeschool Nonprofits webinar

Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA, will help you understand the IRS and state reports and file them yourself! In her webinar IRS and State Filings for Homeschool Nonprofits, Carol will explain the IRS annual returns and how to determine what your state may require as well.

You will learn:

  • The importance of maintaining 501c3 tax exempt status
  • The IRS Form 990 series. What form your group needs to file.
  • How to know if you’ve missed filing IRS returns
  • How to see Form 990-EZs and 990s from other nonprofits.
  • An explanation of the IRS Form 990-N.
  • What filings may be required by your state with examples

The webinar was live in August 2019 but you an purchase the recording for $10.

The webinar will last approximately one hour. There will be time for your questions. It will be recorded for viewing later.

The cost is $10 and you will receive:

  • Access to the live webinar on Wednesday August 21, 2019
  • An opportunity to ask questions via the live chat room
  • Handout of the slides
  • Recording to the webinar
  • IRS Forms, Instructions and samples
  • Template to summarize your state and IRS filing requirements for your board

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

What do you do after your homeschool group has tax exempt status?

Getting 501c3 tax exempt status is a great accomplishment! If you’ve done it, congratulations!

But you’re not finished with government forms just yet! Your state and the IRS have several reports that must be filed regularly to maintain that precious tax exempt stats.

Almost every homeschool group will have some reporting with the IRS and their state.

Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA, will help you understand the IRS and state reports and file them yourself! In her webinar IRS and State Filings for Homeschool Nonprofits, Carol will explain the IRS annual returns and how to determine what your state may require as well.

You will learn:

  • The importance of maintaining 501c3 tax exempt status
  • The IRS Form 990 series. What form your group needs to file.
  • How to know if you’ve missed filing IRS returns
  • How to see Form 990-EZs and 990s from other nonprofits.
  • An explanation of the IRS Form 990-N.
  • What filings may be required by your state with examples

The live webinar will be on Wednesday August 21, 2019 at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT/6 pm MT/5 pm PT

The webinar will last approximately one hour. There will be time for your questions. It will be recorded for viewing later.

The cost is $10 and you will receive:

  • Access to the live webinar on Wednesday August 21, 2019
  • An opportunity to ask questions via the live chat room
  • Handout of the slides
  • Recording to the webinar
  • IRS Forms, Instructions and samples
  • Template to summarize your state and IRS filing requirements for your board

 

More information at HomeschoolCPA.com/Filings

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Webinar: IRS and State Filings for Homeschool Groups

Getting 501c3 tax exempt status is a great accomplishment! If you’ve done that, congratulations!

But don’t think you are done with government forms just yet! Your state and the IRS have several reports that must be filed regularly to maintain your precious tax exempt stats.

Carol Topp, CPA the HomeschoolCPA has helped over 100 homeschool organizations apply for tax exempt status. She has prepared a webinar on IRS and State Filings for Homeschool Nonprofits. Carol explains the IRS annual reports for tax exempt nonprofits and how you can know what your state requires.

You will learn:

  • The importance of maintaining 501c3 tax exempt status
  • The IRS Form 990 series. What form your group needs to file.
  • How to know if you’ve missed filing IRS returns
  • How to see Form 990-EZs and 990s from other nonprofits.
  • An explanation of the IRS Form 990-N.
  • What filings may be required by your state with examples

After the webinar you will be equipped to file on your own the IRS Form 990-N and state forms saving you hundreds of dollars in professional fees.


This webinar is the third in a series of 3 webinar to teach homeschool nonprofit leaders how to create a nonprofit, get and maintain tax exempt status. The other two webinars are:

I highly recommend you watch the first two webinars on Create a Nonprofit for Your Homeschool Community and 501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits. They are both a precursor to this webinar and tells you what to do to create a nonprofit and apply for 501c3 tax exempt status.


This third webinar on IRS and State Filings is for Homeschool Nonprofits if for groups that have received (or applied for) for tax exempt status with the IRS and:

  • Are unsure about IRS annual returns
  • Don’t know what forms their state requires from nonprofit organizations
  • Do fundraisers or ask for donations
  • Received a letter from the IRS or their state about missed reports
  • Need to know what to do to maintain their tax exempt status
  • Want to know what it takes to run a compliant nonprofit organization
  • People who want to DIY the IRS and state flings but need an experienced expert to teach them how.

The webinar will last approximately one hour.

The cost is only $10 and you will receive:

  • A recording of the webinar
  • Handout of the slides
  • IRS Users Guide for Form 990-N
  • Blank IRS Form 990-EZ and Instructions
  • Template to summarize your state and IRS filing requirements

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders maintain tax exempt status.

How to self declare tax exempt status

In my webinars on Creating a Nonprofit for a Homeschool Community and 501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits, I briefly mentioned that some homeschool groups can self declare tax exempt status.

I didn’t go into detail of HOW to self declare this tax exempt status. This blog post explains the HOW.

Background:

Organizations that are eligible to self declare 501 tax exempt status do not have to apply for tax exempt status with the IRS. So no Form 1023/1023-EZ or 1024 needs to be filed! This saves you time and money! Hooray.

But self-declared tax exempt organizations must still maintain that tax exempt status by filing an annual report with the IRS. This annual filing is Form 990/990-EZ or 990-N.

 

If you are a 501c7 social club:

This status is common for homeschool support groups that focus on social activities and clubs rather than on educational activities

Self declare tax exempt status

Since you have not applied for 501(c)(7) status  (you can “self declare” 501(c)(7) status and don’t have to file the paperwork), you are not in the IRS database (yet) so you will not be able to file the 990-Ns. You will need to call the IRS Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500 and be added to their Exempt Organization database so you can begin filing the Form 990-Ns.

It typically takes 6 weeks after you call to be added to the IRS database.

Tips when calling the IRS

Say something like this,

“We’re a brand new 501(c)(7) Social Club and we needed to get added to the IRS exempt organization database so we can start filing our 990-Ns.”

 


If you are a 501c3 Educational Organization

This status is common for tiny homeschool groups including co-ops, tutorials, youth sports, music and arts organizations that focus on educational activities.

Your organization’s total gross revenues must be less than $5,000 per year to be eligible to self declare 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.* 501(c)(7) social clubs mentioned above do not have that $5,000/year limitation. They can have gross revenues of more than $5,000/year and still self-declare tax exempt status.

Read about the difference between 501(c)(7) Social clubs and 501c3 organizations.

Since you have not applied for 501(c)(3) status, you are not in the IRS database (yet) so you will not be able to file the 990-Ns. You will need to call the IRS Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500 and be added to their Exempt Organization database so you can begin filing the Form 990-Ns.

Tips when calling the IRS

Say this: “We’re a small 501(c)(3) educational organization with revenues of less than $5,000 per year. We understand we can self-declare our 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. We’d like to get added to the IRS exempt organization database so we can start filing our 990-Ns.”

 

*Note that only 501(c)(3) organizations with less than $5,000 annual gross revenues can “self-declare” their tax exempt status. 501(c)(3) s with more than $5,000/year in revenues must apply for501(c)(3) status using Form 1023 or the new, shorter Form 1023-EZ.


For both  501c7 Social Clubs and 501c3 Educational Organizations

During your call with the IRS, they will ask for your EIN and organization’s name, address, and probably a contact name. Have all that ready before you call.

They may also ask what date your fiscal year ends. Many support groups operate on a calendar year, but some operate on a school year with a year end of June 30 or July 31. You get to pick it!

They may ask if you have “organizing documents.” They mean bylaws, Articles of Association (or Articles of Incorporation). So tell them if you have bylaws or Articles of Association/Articles of Incorporation. Samples can be found here.

Call the IRS early in the morning. They open at 8 am local time and you can usually get through pretty quickly of you call then. Record the date you call, the IRS employee name and their identification number.

Don’t forget to the the 990-N every year!

Be sure you go online to file the Form 990-N anytime after your fiscal year ends and before its due date which is 4 1/2 months after the end of your fiscal year.

So if you operate on a calendar year, the 990-N is due May 15. If your fiscal year ends June 30, the From 990-N is due November 15 every year. File it at IRS.gov/990n

 

Have more questions about your homeschool organization’s tax exempt status? My book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization would be a big help.

 

 

 

 

If your 501(c)(3) educational organization grows and has more than $5,000 in revenues per year, it’s time to officially apply for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

This webinar 501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits will explain how to do that.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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