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

Tiny Homeschool Groups: Do We Need a Bank Account?

Tiny Homeschool Groups: Do We Need a Bank Account?

Tiny homeschool groups have different challenges than large programs. They are limited on resources, volunteers, and activities. But they still have questions about legal status, money and taxes that the large homeschool organizations have.

In this 4-part podcast series, Carol Topp, CPA answers the common questions that tiny homeschool groups face. All podcasts are available at HomeschoolCPA.com/Podcast

  • Episode #175 Are We a Nonprofit?
  • Episode #176 Do We Need to File Anything?
  • Episode #177 Do We Need to Pay Taxes?
  • Episode #178 Do We Need a Bank Account?

In this episode Carol Topp will explain when a tiny homeschool group might need to open a checking account.

  • The pros and cons of operating in cash and without a checking account
  • Warning against using a personal checking account
  • Steps to take before opening a checking account

Join the Facebook group for homeschool leaders: I am a Homeschool Group Leader. 600+ homeschool leaders offer ideas, encouragement and respectful exchange of ideas. https://www.facebook.com/groups/72534255742/

 

Featured Product

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

 

Board, bylaws and budget for homeschool groups

A homeschool leader is asking some excellent questions about writing bylaws, establishing a board and collecting money.

Dear Carol,
I am co-directing an established homeschool group and we are in the process of writing by-laws. My question is:

  • Is it okay to not allow members to have a vote pertaining to the decisions of the homeschool board?
  • Can the by-laws be set up to allow suggestions and recommendations from the members at the approval of the board?
  • Also, is it legal to initially appoint a board without a vote and then fill vacancies at the discretion of the established board?

Our concern is to protect the vision of the homeschool group.

Your website has been a tremendous help to us. Thank-you for your time and ministry to homeschoolers.

Misty M

 

Misty,
You have asked several good questions. Your group is fortunate to have you as a co-director.

Yes, it is OK to not allow members to vote; I have been on several nonprofit boards that do not have members vote.

Yes, you can set up your bylaws to allow final approval of ideas to be a board responsibility. You may establish a practice of considering suggestions and recommendations; you may not need to formalize the practice in the bylaws.

Yes, you can appoint a board without a member vote. This is done quite frequently on nonprofit boards, especially fine arts boards (i.e., art museums, symphonies, ballets, etc). Many boards find new board members from interested members, volunteers or patrons.

As a guideline, your board should remember their fiduciary duty (duty of care and duty of loyalty) to manage the funds with the purpose/mission of the organization in mind and not for private gain or benefit.
The board’s job is

  • to provide for fiscal accountability,
  • approve the budget, and
  • formulate policies”

From “Major Duties of Board of Directors

In other words, think first of what is best for the organization.

You might find my Homeschool Organization Board Manual to be helpful.

It is a template to create a board member binder. It has lists of important documents to keep in your binder and tools to help you run your meetings smoothly including a sample agenda that you can use over and over again.

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.

I hope that helps!

Carol Topp, CPA

How to wrap up your year as treasurer

It’s near the end of the year for many homeschool nonprofit organizations.

Here’s a list of tasks for a treasurer to do to finish the year:

  • Enter all transactions and check to ensure that your bank reconciliations are up-to-date for the entire year.
  • Fill out the IRS 990/990EZ or 990N if required. As the Treasurer, you are the most appropriate person to fill out this annual IRS form.
  • Give a year end summary to your board. My free webinar Financial Reports for Homeschool Nonprofits will show you good, bad and ugly financial reports.
  • Make a list of any items that you or the next treasurer needs to address that might be out of the norm like outstanding checks.
  • Change authorized banking signatures, if needed. Change names on state registrations and the IRS EIN too. How to change responsible party name on EIN.
  • Put together a list of important deadlines like insurance renewal, Form 990 dues date, state registration deadlines, etc. If you are the next year’s treasurer, put these dates on your calendar.
  • Review the next year’s budget with the incoming treasurer. Don’t have a budget? This should help How do I create a budget for my homeschool group?
  • Train the incoming treasurer. My Board Manual  can serve as a board training guide.

My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization is a guide for treasurers of homeschool organizations. If you don’t have a copy, buy one today. Maybe you’ll say like Mara, a homeschool treasurer in Washington did, “I was also pleased to learn that we are doing many things right!”

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Reimbursement policy for a homeschool group

We discussed during our phone call the need to require receipts from our homeschool program’s teachers before they are reimbursed. I have some board members that are concerned. They are afraid it will be seen as more trouble than it’s worth and that we will have fewer moms volunteer. Their question is whether receipts are necessary.

-BW

 

BW,

Reimbursements…yes, the paperwork and receipts are necessary, because if your homeschool organization gives a volunteer a check without getting a receipt from her, it is considered taxable income to the volunteer teacher (under what the IRS calls a “nonaccountable plan”).

But if the volunteer teacher gives you a receipt, then the money your homeschool group pays her is NOT taxable income to her.

Here’s a blog post you should share with your board: No receipts for expenses can get you in trouble!

Your homeschool program should have a reimbursement policy that is an “accountable plan” to avoid your volunteers having to report the reimbursement as income on their tax return.

To be an accountable plan by the IRS, your reimbursement plan must include all three of the following rules:

  1. The expenses must have a business connection; that is, the expenses must have been paid or incurred while performing services as an employee (or volunteer) to your organization.
  2. The volunteer or employee must adequately account for these expenses within a reasonable time (typically within 120 days). Your homeschool organization must require volunteers/employees to give you detailed information on these expenses, including date, time, place, amount, and  purpose for the expense.  Lots of homeschool groups create a reimbursement form. I offer a sample here (it’s an Excel spreadsheet so you can edit it if you like).
  3. You must require the volunteer or employee to return excess reimbursements within a reasonable and specific period of time (usually 60 days). This is applicable if you give money in advance to a volunteer. Giving and advance is not typical in homeschool groups, but a few groups have told me that they give advances to some volunteer teachers.

If all three of these requirements are not met, the plan is determined by the IRS not to be an accountable plan, and any expenses reimbursed to the employee by your homeschool program are taxable to the volunteer!

So now you can see the importance of requesting those receipts (and having an accountable plan)!

Better yet, use my sample reimbursement form (opens an Excel spreadsheet) since it collects all the information required by the IRS to have an accountable plan.

I strongly recommend that your reimbursement policy state that if no receipts are turned in, no reimbursement money will be paid to a volunteer!

 

My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization offers tips on reimbursement plan and other aspects of managing the money in a homeschool group.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

 

Income and expenses are a “wash.” Do I have to record them?

I’m treasurer for a nonprofit homeschool group. Every year some of the teachers charge a lab fee and it all gets spent on lab equipment. Do we have to claim that as income or is it just a wash because it’s used for materials or experiments?

Homeschool Treasurer

 

 

Dear Homeschool Treasurer,

You should claim/record the lab fees collected in full as income to your group.

Then also record the lab or equipment expenses to clearly reflect both the income and the expense.

If you don’t record the income, because it is a “wash” (meaning the same as the expenses, so no effect on your profit or surplus), then you are guilty of both under-reporting income and under-reporting expenses.

Your board will not have an accurate picture of all the income and all the expenses.

And you’ll be lying to the IRS! This is obviously more serious if your homeschool group is a for-profit business.

I warn against mixing income and expenses in your bookkeeping in my book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization.

Please take a few minutes and record all your income and all your expenses.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Helping Homeschool Leaders

Top tax mistakes homeschool business owners make

I’ve talked to a lot of homeschool (for-profit) program directors over the past few years. These people have a huge heart for homeschooling, but many do not understand that when they start their programs, they began operating a business. They don’t see themselves as business owners (but they are!), and so they neglect getting educated about running a business and make a lot of mistakes.

Here are the top tax mistakes I see homeschool for-profit directors make:

  1. Giving themselves a 1099-MISC.
  2. Not understand that they are business owners.
  3. Paying tutors as Independent Contractors but treat them as employees.
  4. Not understanding their tax obligations.
  5. Not being prepared for self-employment tax.
  6. Not being aware of potential penalties for worker misclassification.
  7. Not keeping good records.
  8. Not seeking professional advice before signing an agreement or launching a program.
  9. Not getting tax advice.
  10. Asking Independent Contractors or employees to volunteer their time. That is Illegal in most states.
  11. Not realizing fundraisers are taxable income.
  12. Thinking they can form a nonprofit by filing a piece of paper but not forming a board or drafting bylaws.

I explain a lot of these tax mistakes in my webinar on Tax Preparation for Homeschool Business Owners. It should be a lot of help to for-profit directors, tutors, co-op teachers and other homeschool business owners! For details visit HomeschoolCPA.com/HSBIZTAXES

 

Additionally my book on  Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization  explains in detail why tutors should be paid as employees and the risk a homeschool business owner is taking if she pays her teachers or tutors as Independent Contractors.

 

I’m not trying to scare anyone!  Sorry if I did, but maybe it will compel you to change your actions.

I’m not trying to talk you out of being a homeschool business owner, director of a for-profit program, or tutor if you love it.

But I am trying to help you stay out of trouble with the IRS and your state government.

The last thing I want is an audit of homeschool programs or businesses by the IRS or state governments! No one wants the reputation of homeschooling tainted in the eyes of our government. We don’t need that!

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Helping homeschool leaders

New tax deduction for homeschool teachers and tutors in 2018!

Congratulations homeschool business owners which may include homeschool co-op teachers, directors and tutors! There is a new tax deduction that you are (probably) entitled to take on your 2018 tax return!

It’s called the Qualified Business Income (QBI) Deduction.

The QBI tax deduction is equal to 20% of your profit from a “qualified business.”

Tutoring and teaching are both a “qualified businesses” if operated as anything except a C corporation.

If your taxable income is less than $157,500 for a single person or $315,000 for married filing joint, you can claim the 20% QBI tax deduction (even if you are one of the not qualified businesses I listed). If your income is more than those thresholds, your deduction will be phased out.

There are some additional restrictions and complications, especially if your business is an S Corporation, pays wages to employees, or if you have several businesses. So consult your tax professional if those situations apply to you.

 The Qualified Business Income Deduction is found on Line 9 of the 2018 Form 1040. so look for it!

Your tax prep software may not calculate the deduction automatically; you may have to answer some questions to trigger the deduction.

This deduction is for business owners, but not for employees.

Need more help preparing your tax return for 2018 this year?

There is a lot to learn about running a business. I don’t mean to discourage you or anyone else away from operating a homeschool business. You provide a valuable service to homeschool families! I am offering this webinar to help you understand the tax implications:

Carol, thank you again for the webinar. It was one of the BEST webinars I’ve EVER attended. If you do hold another one, I would pay for it hands down.  Totally worth the $10! -Denise, webinar attendee

“I actually don’t care for webinars at all – it is not my learning style at all and I struggle to focus, but this one was extremely value and had my attention”. -Mary, webinar attendee

The webinar was recorded and you can access the recording and slide handout at HomeschoolCPA.com/HSBIZTAXES for a small fee of $10.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping homeschool leaders

How does the new tax law changes affect homeschool teachers and tutors?

There were a lot of changes to the US taxes in 2018 and the IRS re-designed the Form 1040, so tax preparation in 2019 will be very confusing.

Here are some highlights of the tax law changes that affect homeschool business owners and that includes (nonemployee) teachers at a homeschool co-op, owners of for-profit homeschool programs, and tutors.

Yes, teacher and tutors are business owners! If you accept payment and offer a service (like a class), you are in business and are a business owner. If you teach or tutor as an Independent Contractor, you have a tutoring business!

 

Highlights of Tax Changes in 2018

  •  No more exemptions for each family member. This may hurt large families.
  •  Standard deduction increased to $12,000 S/$24,000 MFJ
  •  Child Tax credit increased to $2,000/child
  •  New Qualified Business Income deduction
  •  New tax forms: 1040 “postcard”
  •  Lower tax rates (12% for most of us)

 

The new Qualified Business Income deduction will help homeschool business owners. You’re going to love it!

The deduction is equal to 20% of your profit from a “qualified” business (sole prop, partnerships, S corp)

If your Taxable Income less than $157,000 Single or $315,000 Married Filing Joint, your business is “qualified.”

Look for this Qualified Business Income deduction on new re-designed Form 1040 Line 9

 


There is a lot to learn about running a business. I don’t mean to discourage you or anyone else away from operating a homeschool business. You provide a valuable service to homeschool families! I am offering this webinar to help you understand the tax implications:

I recorded a webinar on Tax Preparation for Homeschool Business Owners. It should be a lot of help to tutors, non-employee co-op teachers and other homeschool business owners! You can watch the recording at HomeschoolCPA.com/HSBIZTAXES for a small fee of $10.

Carol, thank you again for the webinar. It was one of the BEST webinars I’ve EVER attended. If you do hold another one, I would pay for it hands down.  Totally worth the $10! -Denise, webinar attendee

“I actually don’t care for webinars at all – it is not my learning style at all and I struggle to focus, but this one was extremely value and had my attention”. -Mary, webinar attendee


I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Helping homeschool leaders

Can a homeschool program director deduct her child’s tuition on her tax return?

Carol,

I’m a director for a small classical homeschool program. I am required to have all my children enrolled in the program. I see this as a requirement for being a director and therefore a business expense. Can I deduct my children’s’ tuition and fees as a business expense on my tax return?

-T

 

Dear T,

No. The tuition and fees are not a business expense; they are a personal expense. They are not tax deductible as a business expense.

Just because the program you use requires you to have all your children enrolled in the program, does not make those expenses “ordinary and necessary” business expenses allowed by the IRS.

To be a bit ridiculous consider this:

I have to eat in order to stay alive and operate my business, but that doesn’t make my meals eaten at home are a business expense!

I imagine that the homeschool program wants to you to wear clothing while teaching, but your typical street clothes are not  a tax deductible business expense. They are a personal expense.

 

From the IRS:

To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business.

Generally, you cannot deduct personal, living, or family expenses. (emphasis added)

Source: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/deducting-business-expenses

Your children’s tuition is a “family expense,” not a business expense.

Do not deduct it on your Schedule C Profit or Loss from Business tax form.


It is not my intention to scare you or anyone else away from operating a homeschool business. You provide a valuable service to homeschool families, but you do need to understand the legal and tax implications, so I am offering this webinar to help:

I recorded a webinar on Tax Preparation for Homeschool Business Owners. It should be a lot of help to tutors, co-op teachers and other homeschool business owners! For details visit HomeschoolCPA.com/HSBIZTAXES


I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping homeschool leaders