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 live webinar will be TOMORROW evening 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

 

I hope you can join me TOMORROW evening Wednesday August 21, 2019 at 8 pm ET.

 

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

Holding a fundraiser to pay for homeschool curriculum

Photo credit TheMagicOnions.com

 

I homeschool my 3 children and 3 children of another family. As a project, we learned how to create a school website and as a idea to raise money for curriculum, supplies and hopefully a field trip or two. We’re in NC and also considered a private school.

We thought of an idea to sell Fairy Gardens that we personally make and accept donations on our website. Am I breaking any laws by not being registered as a business or non profit? 100% of profits will be spent on the school, but it goes to my own PayPal account and I state on the website that receipts for the donation being spent on the school and states that the donations are not tax deductible.

It dawned on me that it might not be allowed to do this without some kind of permit. I’m not sure though because I would be allowed to make fairy gardens and sell at a yard sale, so is it different if I sold them online?

Also, can I be a non-profit since I homeschool the children of two families and not just my own? I would greatly appreciate your feedback on this and thank you so much for all of the knowledgeable information you’ve shared on your site!

Best wishes,

April in North Carolina

 

 

April,
You and the other family are not a nonprofit organization, even if North Carolina classifies your homeschool as a private school. Private school  only means you are not funded with public (i.e. government) funds. It does not make you or your business a nonprofit organization. (BTW, some private schools are for-profit businesses.)

In order to be a tax exempt nonprofit, the IRS says you must be operated and organized as a nonprofit.

A tax exempt nonprofit organization “must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests” (Source: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/exemption-requirements-section-501c3-organizations).

So benefiting only you and the other family is “private interests” and not serving a public good, therefore you cannot be a nonprofit organization with only two families getting all the benefits.

Your fairy garden business is NOT a nonprofit. It is a business, probably a micro business. Stop calling your sales “donations.” They are simply sales of products (fairy gardens in your case) by a business.

You probably need to register in North Carolina as a business and probably get a vendors license to collect and pay sales tax.
Better start googling “Start a small business in North Carolina.”

 

My books Micro Business for Teens could help your children start this as their business (not yours) and learn a lot too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, your comment about selling your products at a yard sale is not quite correct. You can sell fairy gardens at a yard sale, but then you’re running a business and the profit is taxable. In yard sales, you are generally selling household items you bought over many years and used personally and selling them for less than you paid for them. But that’s not true for your fairy gardens. You did not use them personally and you are selling them at a profit, so it’s a business and you should register it and apply for a vendor’s license.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Homeschool leaders summer reading: Money Management in a Homeschool Organization

 
This summer I’m encouraging homeschool leaders to take time to become a better leader by reading through my books. This week I’m featuring my book,

 

When I originally published this book in 2008, it was a short 40 page ebook and had a horrible cover.  I was still learning and self-publishing was brand new!
MoneyMgmtCover
An update was badly needed and I tackled that project in 2014. The book ballooned to 131 pages and I subtitled it “A Guide for Treasurers.” I feel like I poured my CPA brain into this book.

 

Cover Money Mgmt HS Org
 Topics covered in this book include:
Chapter 1: Your Treasurer is a Gem!
Chapter 2: Checking Accounts Done Right
Chapter 3: Super Simple Bookkeeping Basics
Chapter 4: Show Us Your Books! Regular Reporting on Financial Status
Chapter 5: Establish a Budget: You’ll Thank Me Later
Chapter 6: Get What’s Coming to You: Collecting Fees
Chapter 7: Do I Have to Report This? Reimbursement Policies and Avoiding Taxes
Chapter 8: Using Software to Stay Sane
Chapter 9: Fraud: It Couldn’t Happen to Us
Chapter 10: Need More Money? Easy Fundraisers for Homeschool Organizations
Chapter 11: Risky Business: Insurance for Homeschool Groups
Chapter 12: Paying Workers: Hiring Employees and Independent Contractors
Chapter 13: Homeschool For Profit: Running a Homeschool Group as a Business

 

 

 

Carol Topp, CPA

 

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Easy Fundraisers for Your Homeschool Group

 

Does your homeschool organization need some ideas for raising money?

Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA, shares ideas for easy fundraising in this episode of the Dollars And Sense Show.

This is a repeat of a podcast episode aired in 2014. I (Carol) caught a nasty cold and sinus infection and couldn’t talk without coughing for several weeks. I hope you find the re-broadcast of this episode helpful!

In the podcast Carol mentioned a warning: No Individual fundraising accounts!
See https://homeschoolcpa.com/scouts-dont-allow-individual-fundraising-account-and-neither-should-you/

 

More information:
Money Mgmt HS OrgCover

Money Management in a Homeschool Organization book

Blog posts  on fundraising: https://homeschoolcpa.com/tag/fund-raising/

Article “Easy Fundraisers for Homeschool Groups” at https://homeschoolcpa.com/leader-tools/articles/

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Does your homeschool group have fundraisers? You may need to register in your state

Carol,

We’re a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization (Thanks for helping us with that!). In your letter to us you say that if we “solicit contributions” we may need to register in our state. We don’t ask for donations, but we do have several fundraisers each year. Are our fundraisers considered “solicited contributions”?

Jennifer in Georgia

Jennifer,

Congratulations on your 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS. Now it’s time to determine what your state requires from your organization.

Charitable solicitation registration

My source for information on nonprofit fundraisers is Nolo’s Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: The 50 State Guide

The Guide explains that 39 states (and the District of Columbia) require registration from nonprofit organizations that solicit donations in their state. (This is all nonprofits, not just those with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.)

Definition of charitable solicitation

“Solicit contributions is defined broadly…Charitable solicitations don’t always have to involve asking for a donation. Offering to sell a product or service that includes a representation that all or part of the money received will be devoted to a charitable organization or charitable purpose is considered a charitable solicitation and triggers the registration requirement.”

So, fundraisers are included in the definition of charitable solicitations. That means if your homeschool group holds a fundraiser, you probably need to register in  your state. But keep reading…

Exemptions

The good news is that all states offer exemptions to their charitable registration for certain types of nonprofits. One common exemption is for small nonprofits:

“Most states exempt very small nonprofits from registering. In most states “small” is defined by a nonprofit’s gross revenues, not the number of members it has. In many states (about 16) a nonprofit qualifies for this exemption if it has annual gross revenues of less than $25,000.”

Nolo’s webpage with more exceptions to charitable registration

I researched the exemption rules in Georgia (it was included in the Form 1023-EZ Application for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status service that I provided to Jennifer’s organization ). I learned that Georgia offers an exemption from charitable registration  for nonprofits whose total revenue from contributions has been less than $25,000.00 for both the immediately preceding and current calendar years. Jennifer’s organization is under that $25,000 threshold in contributions and fundraisers, so she was happy to hear that her homeschool group did not need to register in Georgia. 🙂

Help for your homeschool organization

Determining whether your nonprofit is exempt from charity registration can be difficult. Exemptions vary from state to state. To determine whether your nonprofit is exempt in your state, you could look up the charitable solicitation laws of that state. The law is usually found on the Attorney General or Secretary of State’s website.

Or contact me, Carol Topp. I can do the research for you since I know what I am looking for!. This service includes drafting a letter for your board and future boards explaining the all required forms in your state with due dates. Cost: $50.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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Used curriculum sales and taxes

When a homeschool group has a fund raiser like a used curriculum sale or mini-exhibit hall is the income taxable?
Thanks,
Dorothy
Dorothy,
Fundraisers are usually considered unrelated business income, meaning that the fundraiser activities are not related to your organization’s tax exempt purpose. In other words, a homeschool group’s purpose is education, not selling curriculum or hosting an exhibit hall.

 

Unrelated business income is taxable income. It’s called UBIT-unrelated business income tax.

 

From the IRS: Unrelated business income is income from a trade or business, regularly carried on, that is not substantially related to the charitable, educational, or other purpose that is the basis of the organization’s exemption. An exempt organization that has $1,000 or more of gross income from an unrelated business must file Form 990-T (and pay federal income tax).

 

Fortunately, the IRS has several exceptions to paying the UBIT tax:

  • A $1,000 threshold allows that the first $1,000 in gross revenues from an unrelated business will not be taxed.
  • If the fundraiser (or unrelated business) is run by volunteer efforts (i.e., no paid staff) then the proceeds are not taxed.
  • If the fundraiser is not regularly carried on, such as a once-a-year unsed curriculum sale, then the proceeds are not subject to UBIT.
  • If you are selling donated items, like in a garage sale, the income raised is not taxed.

One of these exceptions are bound to apply to most homeschool organizations.

So, while the income from an unrelated business activity may be taxable, in reality, no tax will be paid because one of the exceptions mentioned above applies.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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Is my homeschool graduation fundraiser breaking the law?

Hi Carol,
The past 3 years we have held a graduation. The graduate families have been doing the fundraising, with the amount earned going into our checking account and then paid out for speakers, food, programs, and etc. I am concerned after reading your book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization: A Guide For Treasurers that we have been doing this all wrong!
 Are we instead supposed to fund raise as a whole group, and have graduation as a budgeted item in place of creating the graduation fund in our checking account?
Thank you so much for all your help!

Heidi,

 

Heidi,

The fundraising to pay for the graduation expenses is fine. The fundraiser proceeds are going to an event that your homeschool organization operates, not to individual families.

What is prohibited by the IRS is private inurement which is when an organization earmarks fundraiser proceeds as belonging to specific families to defray their specific and particular expenses. That’s a no-no. The purpose of those fundraising monies to to further your exempt purpose (homeschooling), not to give a financial break to specific, individual families.

There was a homeschool group that showed me their spreadsheet of about 10 fundraisers(!) and the 20 families that participated and how each dollar of profit from the fundraiser was divvied up to each family. Yikes! It was a record-keeping marvel, but prohibited by the IRS! I warned them to cease and desist immediately.

I think the graduation event should be included in your budget with both the revenues (parents paying money and the fundraisers proceeds) and the expenses (speakers, food, programs, etc) recorded.

 I hope that helps,
Carol Topp, CPA

 

 Learn more about managing money and IRS tax exempt status for your homeschool organization

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