Are hired homeschool teachers household employees?

Hello Carol!

I graduated from college in May and am currently working on my masters degree in Elementary Education. A friend put me in contact with one of her family friends for a job opportunity as a homeschool teacher while I complete my degree. I do not work for a tutoring company nor do I teach any other children besides the ones in this family.

My employer said he would send me a 1099 at the end of the year and is not withholding any income taxes from my paychecks. I am wondering if I should be paid as a household employee.

I am wondering how much I should expect to put aside for taxes.
Emma

Hi Emma,

Congratulations on your recent graduation.

Other CPAs may disagree with me, but I do not think that teachers or tutors are household employees. The IRS has a list of occupations that qualify as household employees, that is workers who do household work: “housekeepers, maids, babysitters, gardeners, and others who work in or around a private residence as an employee.” Teachers and tutors are not mentioned in that list.

The IRS explains that “Repairmen, plumbers, contractors, and other business people who provide their services as independent contractors, are not your employees. Household workers are your employees if you can control not only the work they do but also how they do it.” (emphasis added)

So since your “employer” is treating you as an Independent Contractor, you are not a household employee.

It is debatable if being treated as an Independent Contractor is the correct classification for you. You may be the family’s employee (but not a household employee), if the family directs and controls your work. I cannot determine if you are correctly classified as an Independent Contractor from what you told me.


I usually recommend that self employed workers set aside 20%-30% of their pay to federal income taxes. You will pay both federal income and and self-employment tax, which is Social Security and Medicare taxes for self-employed people. Self-employment tax is 15.3% of your net earnings (i.e., your profit from being an Independent Contractor ). Then depending on your state, you may set aside a bit more for state income taxes; I estimate about 5% for state taxes.

So that’s a total of 30-35% of your pay for federal income tax, self-employment tax and state income tax.

Ouch!

I hope the family is paying you well!


I have a helpful ebook ?Taxes for Homeschool Business Owners that will be very  helpful to you as you prepare your taxes for 2020.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping homeschool leaders

Homeschool mom has concerns about Classical Conversations

I’ve written several blog posts answering questions from Classical Conversations (CC) Directors regarding:

Usually these issues affect CC Directors the most since they are the business owners that carry the responsibility and liability for operating a licensed CC Community that is compliant with local, state, and federal laws.

But sometimes the individual families in a CC Community are affected by these issues as well.

Homeschool blogger at As for Me and My Homestead, Jamie, wrote a blog posts titled, “Why My Family Left Classical Conversations.” In her post she outlines several reasons her family left CC after four years.

If you scroll to the end, she explains several business practices that she found concerning enough to make the decision to leave behind a group of homeschool families she deeply enjoyed and loved.

Through all the rest of this, I pushed the nagging, “something isn’t quite right” issues out of mind, and tried to focus on the positives.  Fortunately for me, the person who brought the errata sheet to my attention also invited me to join a Facebook group where I learned more about Classical Conversations that went beyond the mistakes and poor curriculum.

Jamie writes about several issues that bothered her including:

  • CC Corporate calling themselves (and the Directors’ businesses) a “ministry,” which can be misleading
  • Communities (as for-profit business) using churches
  • Misclassifying tutors as Independent Contractors
  • CC Corporate and local Directors using teenagers and parents as volunteer labor

She calls these issues “the tip of the iceberg.”


It’s never easy to publicly criticize a homeschool program, especially if your friends are still enthusiastic about it.

Jamie ends her post with this wish:

My hope is that in reading this, other families will see that CC is a corporation that is not operating in a godly manner, while claiming the name of God, and will find out that they could do so much better with their money & time, than join a CC community.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

I started a nonprofit CC Community. Can I pay myself?

Greetings, I’ve started a Classical Conversations Community in Washington state. To be able to host my community at my church, we were asked that we create a non-profit organization so I did. I created a separate non-profit banking account from my personal account, thankfully. Honestly all money that has gone out has been for supplies and Independent Contractor payments. Although, it would appear within the CC framework that I can pay myself, I’m unclear with the non-profit status if I actually should, so I have taken no stipend at all for my work.

Can I actually pay myself a small stipend to help off set my personal expenses?

Thank you for any and all help you might be able to offer. I’m feeling extremely overwhelmed with all of this.

-WA

Dear WA,
Last week I talked with another CC Director in Washington State who formed a nonprofit. Her situation sounds very similar to yours.

Both she and you seem to lack a board or team of leaders. You see, a nonprofit is not owned by anyone (unlike a for profit business which does have an owner). Nonprofit organizations are operated by a board or team of people. This board the hires and pays staff such as you, the Director, or the tutors.

So to answer your question: No, you cannot pay yourself. A board of people unrelated to you by marriage, blood or business relationship, must vote on what all workers get paid. That is how a nonprofit is very different from a for profit business.

Resources

My book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization explains how a CC nonprofit should be paying its Director and tutors (i..e, as employees not as Independent Contractors).

The book is available in paperback $9.95 or ebook format $3.99

You’ll find my latest ebook Business Q&A for CC Directors to be full of questions just like yours from CC Directors and my answers. There are so many issues to learn and understand when running a Classical Conversations Community. Get accurate information on running your business from a CPA who has consulted with dozens of CC Directors.

Ebook (pdf) format only: $10.00

I think you will find both books very helpful!


Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

San Antonio, Austin and Houston: Q&A with HomeschoolCPA this week

San Antonio, Austin and Houston, Texas will all be getting live Q&A time this week with Carol Topp, CPA, the Homeschool CPA!

San Antonio: Tuesday February 25, 2020
from 7:00 to 8:30 pm
on the lovely grounds of
Family Educators Alliance of South Texas (FEAST)
7735 Mockingbird Lane • San Antonio, TX • 78229
Register here for San Antonio

Austin: Wednesday February 26, 2020
from 6:30-9:15 pm
at
Calvary Worship Center (North Austin, close to TX 45 & N Mopac Expy)
14901 Burnet Road
Austin, TX 78728 
More information and to RSVP for Austin

Houston: Thursday February 27, 2020
from 6:30-9:15 pm
at
University Baptist Church  (Chapel area)
16106 Middlebrook Dr
Houston, TX 77059  
More information and to RSVP for Houston

Each event is free, but the organizers would appreciate you register so they have a head count.

The San Antonio event is sponsored by Family Educators Alliance of South Texas and the Austin and Houston events are sponsored by Texas Homeschool Coalition with much appreciation!


Each event will have:

  • A brief session presented by Carol Topp, CPA, the HomeschoolCPA on “Topp Tips for Running a Homeschool Organization”
  • A Town Hall session for you to ask question and get advice from other homeschool leaders
  • Q&A time with Carol Topp, CPA
  • Professional advice on finances, legal structures, taxes, employees, insurance, etc.
  • A chance to look at HomeschoolCPA’s books
  • An opportunity to be encouraged by other leaders who understand you!

I hope to see you in San Antonio, Austin or Houston!

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Do we file 1099s for teachers before we are a 501c3?

We board members just want to clarify something about issuing the 1099 to our five paid teachers. Do we need to wait until we have our 501(3)(c) status before we issue them?

In your book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization,  Chapter 3, you wrote about the difference between an independent contractor and a worker. I had a hard time trying to classify which one it would be for our teachers. Three of our teachers are former homeschool moms, one is a former homeschool student, and one is a single lady who has taught a variety of classes over the years. They really don’t have any expenses, but if they do, they get reimbursed for them. Is this enough information for you to tell me which category they fall under?

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions,
Lisa

Dear Lisa,
You should not wait until your organization has 501c3 tax exempt status to issue the 1099-MISCs.

As soon as it formed as a nonprofit corporation, your homeschool group could legally start running your program, paying workers, etc.

As a matter of fact, your homeschool group is REQUIRED to file the 1099-MISC if it paid any individual more than $600 for their services in 2019.

That’s a requirement whether an organization has 501c3 tax exempt status or not.


To prepare your IRS Form 1099-MISC, I recommend Yearli.com. I’ve used them for years. It’s fast, easy, inexpensive ($4.99 per 1099-MISC) and all online, so there are no paper forms to mail!

If you use my Yearli referral link, you receive a 15% discount and I get a small referral fee. https://mbsy.co/rzrbp

Making a worker determination can be confusing. Unfortunately, I cannot determine if your teachers are Independent Contractors or employees from what you explained.

Since you have my book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization, look at Chapter 3 and pay close attention to page 44 where I discuss workers who provide the key activity of the business.  It is a key factor that the IRS (and now states like California) uses in determining that your homeschool teachers are probably employees.

This blog post may help as well: Why I think most homeschool teachers should be paid as employees

I do offer a phone consultations to help you determine if your homeschool organization’s workers are employee or independent contractors. Worker Classification Consultation.
The phone call will be followed up with an email containing a fact-based determination and information to help you take the next steps. My fee for this consultation is $100/hour. Typically 1-1.5 hours. 

Please contact me to schedule a phone consultation.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

End of Year Tasks for Nonprofit Homeschool Groups

Happy New Year! In the new and out with the old.

But wait! Not so fast!

There are several tasks a nonprofit homeschool group needs to do to finish out the prior year before forging ahead.

1. Wage Form W-2 to employees by January 31st:  Your treasurer should furnish Form W-2 to employees who worked for your organization during the past year by Jan 31st.
The cover sheet for the W-2s, called a transmittal form W-3 transmittal form is due the end of January as well.

2. Independent Contractor Form 1099-MISC are also due January 31. Provide a Form 1099-MISC to individuals paid $600 or more in 2019 for performing a service for your nonprofit. Like the W-2s, the 1099s have a cover page, Form 1096 transmittal form that is also due by Jan 31st.

In 2020, the IRS will be replacing the 1099-MISC for non-employee compensation with a separate form called 1099-NEC. It will be used in early 2021 to report 2020 payments to independent contractors. Click here to see the IRS draft.

PaperW-2s and 1099-MISCs are a nuisance to fill in and mail, so do what I do and file online.
I used a service called Yearli.com for years. They are fast, easy and inexpensive.
Check them out! https://mbsy.co/rzrbp
Using this link gets you a 15% discount and (full disclosure) I make a small commission.

The start of a new year is a great time to determine if your workers should be classified as an employee or independent contractor.

Worker misclassification is a serious issue and can cause significant financial hardship and has caused several businesses to close. Penalties for misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor are very stiff and strictly enforced so now is a good of time to make sure every one of your workers are properly classified. Read more here

My book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization will help to determine if a worker is an Independent Contractor or employee.

For more specific advice, I offer a Worker Classification Consultation.


3. Contribution statements for donations your nonprofit received in 2019. A donation is recorded when it is received even if you don’t deposit the check until the new year. The only exception to that rule is if you receive a check in the mail and the envelope is dated December 31st or before. You can count that as a donation in 2019.
Your contributions statements to donors should be mailed in January so donors can prepare their tax returns.

Those tasks will keep your treasurer (or hired bookkeeper) pretty busy in January!

If you’re needing bookkeeper, I recommend Mary Musick, CPA (inactive) and current homeschool mom. Mary runs a bookkeeping service and can help your homeschool nonprofit with bookkeeping and payroll. Her email is hfbkkpg@gmail.com.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

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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The IRS is on the prowl in 2019!

Every year the IRS Tax Exempt division releases a list of areas and issues they plan to focus on for audits and investigations. The IRS Tax Exempt division calls it their Program Letter. The Exempt Division is the branch of the IRS that grants 501c tax exempt status to nonprofit organizations.

The Charity Law blog discussed the IRS Tax Exempt work plan for 2019.

 

I found the list of things the IRS considers “the highest known priority and emerging risks” to be interesting, especially these two issues that affect homeschool programs, both nonprofit and for-profit:

  • Previous for-profit: focus on organizations formerly operated as for-profit entities prior to their conversion to IRC Section 501(c)(3) organizations.
  • Worker classification (misclassified workers): determine whether misclassified workers result in incorrectly treating employees as independent contractors.

 

So if you are converting a for-profit homeschool business to a nonprofit organization, be prepared for some extra questioning and scrutiny from the IRS. You’ll have to file the longer Form 1023 to apply for 501c3 tax exempt status and explain in your Narrative why you are converting to nonprofit status. You will not be eligible for using the shorter IRS Form 1023-EZ.

 

My book, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization  explains how to apply for 501c3 tax exempt status.

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, if you are treating your homeschool program teachers or tutors as Independent Contractors, be prepared for the IRS to keep an eye on you and they may open an investigation into your worker classification.

 

 

My book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization will be a big help to you in paying workers.

 

 

 

Additionally, the IRS is hiring approximately 40 new revenue agents to process determination applications. Is that good news? More IRS revenue agents should mean both faster processing and increased audits and investigations! Both good and bad, in my opinion.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

 

Should You Pay Homeschool Teachers

 

Should your homeschool program pay teachers? Jamie Buckland, a homeschool leader from West Virginia started Appalachia Classical Academy and pays her teachers as employees. How and why would she do that? This podcast (19 minutes) will give you something to think about and consider for your homeschool program.

Jamie explains to host Carol Topp how she started her classical homeschool program including:

  • How she received advice from other homeschool leaders
  • Why her program charges tuition
  • Why she pays teachers as employees
  • The benefits of having employees
  • The difficulties of using volunteers

Carol and Jamie both belong to a Facebook group for homeschool leaders called I Am a Homeschool Group Leader Facebook Group. It is a closed group (meaning you have to request to join) of 600+ homeschool leaders from across the USA. You can join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/72534255742/

 

Jamie is the owner of Classical Program Consultant a consulting service for homeschool leaders interested in launching a classical homeschool program. Her website is JamieBuckland.net.

Are you interested in starting a homeschool program like Jamie described? Jamie and Carol teamed up to give a webinar on the ABCs of Starting an Academic Homeschool Program. You can benefit from their combined knowledge in this webinar (and several extra resources are included as well). https://homeschoolcpa.com/how-to-start-an-academic-homeschool-program/

 

In the podcast Carol mentioned …

In the podcast Jamie mentioned paying teachers or tutors as employees. My book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization has more information about paying Independent Contractors and employees.

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.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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