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

 

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

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

ABC Test for Independent Contractors

 

Is your homeschool teacher an employee or Independent Contractor?

In 2018 California Supreme Court tried to make that questions easier to answer with a simpler 3 part test: The ABC Test for Independent Contractor status.

Can You Pass The Three-Part ABC Test?

Listen to the podcast (11 Minutes) for Carol’s reply.

 

In the podcast Carol mentioned …

In the podcast I mentioned my paying teachers or tutors of others in a homeschool business or nonprofit organization. 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.

 

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The federal government might be shut down, but you still have to file 1099-MISC by January 31

The US government is partially shut down, but taxpayers still must file their 1099-MISC forms by January 31, 2019.

Your homeschool business, tutoring program, nonprofit organization, co-op or community must give a 1099-MISC to anyone you paid more than $600 in 2018.

 

Greatland cpa academy webinar yearli logo

I recommend you use an online filing system like Yearli.com Core program by Greatland (my affiliate link). I’ve used them for years.

Yearli by Greatland is the best way for businesses to file 1099 and W-2 forms.

I used to buy forms at an office supply store, upload the software, type in the data, run the forms through my printer, and mail them all off! Even just a few 1099-MISC could take a long time! And heaven forbid you misfeed the red ink IRS forms into your printer (I did!). You could not make a mistake or back to the office supply store to but another set! Ugh!

Yearli by Greatland makes it so easy and they charge only $4.99 per 1099-MISC. They send a copy to the IRS and mail a copy to the recipient. Simple!

You’ll receive 15% off your filings because I referred you.
You will need the following information:

  • Your business or organization’s legal name, address and EIN number
  • The recipient’s name, address, SSN number and total amount paid in 2018.

Don’t forget you have to have the 1099-MISCs completed by January 31, 2019!

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

 

Webinar: Tax Preparation for Homeschool Business Owners


 

Taxes! Oh my! Tax returns will be a doozy with massive tax law changes and the redesigned Form 1040.

But tax preparation for homeschool business owners is even more complex than regular taxpayers.

Fortunately, HomeschoolCPA is here to help. I recorded a webinar.

 Taxes for Homeschool Business Owners

$10.00 includes unlimited viewing and a handout of slides

Here’s what the webinar covers:

  • Highlights of tax changes for 2018
  • IRS tax forms for a sole proprietorship: Schedule C and SE
  • Self-employment tax
  • How to pay yourself
  • Tax deductions common to homeschool business owners
  • New tax deduction for 2018! Look out for this one. It’s terrific!
  • The new redesigned IRS Form 1040
  • Two sample tax returns. Yes, I walk you through two sample tax returns, so you can see how everything looks. 🙂
  • Common mistakes to avoid

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

Carol, thank you for doing this for us! I am not a numbers person at all, and still found this webinar very interesting and helpful.”-Anne, 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


This webinar is for:

  • Paid teachers at a homeschool co-op
  • Tutors getting paid as Independent Contractors
  • Directors/owners of homeschool programs such as CC directors running a community
  • Music teachers, tutors, coaches, etc. running their own businesses
  • Business owners selling services to the homeschool marketplace

The webinar recording costs only $10. You will gain a lot more than $10 worth of information, I promise.

For $10 so you get:

  • Access to the webinar video to re-watch as often as needed (just save the link!)
  • Download of the webinar slides
  • Notification of upcoming webinars for homeschool business owners and nonprofit leaders

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

How does the IRS prove my homeschool group’s tutor should be an employee?

 

D. is a leader of a homeschool program, Classical Conversations, who asked me about the worker status of tutors in her program: Should they be employees or Independent Contractors? This question applies to many homeschool groups, not just Classical Conversations.

What evidence would the IRS use to prove an “employee” was “treated” wrong (i.e., misclassified as an Independent Contractor when they should be an employee)? If it’s how much freedom the tutor felt they had, I am confused.

If I hire a independent contractor to paint my walls do I not have full rights to specify how, what color, the time frame I need it done, etc? How can this truly be an issued PROVED by IRS?

-D.
(edited for clarity and spelling)

 

D.,

Let me clear up something.

The IRS rulings, decisions and determinations on worker status are based on common law, not scientific facts.

Common law is the body of law derived from custom and judicial precedent rather than statutes. Common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is that body of law derived from judicial decisions of courts (Wikipedia definition https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_law)

The common-law system is used in all the states of the United States.

Common law and the IRS does not use the word “prove” as used in science. Instead judges and the IRS make judgements or determinations. Application of IRS regulations and determinations is not science, it’s law and that’s a different mindset.

Things cannot be “proven” in law like they can in science.

Under a common-law system, disputes are settled through an adversarial exchange of arguments and evidence. Both parties present their cases before a neutral fact finder, either a judge or a jury. The judge or jury evaluates the evidence, applies the appropriate law to the facts, and renders a judgment in favor of one of the parties. Following the decision, either party may appeal the decision to a higher court. Appellate courts in a common-law system may review only findings of law, not determinations of fact. Source: https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/common+law

I’ve written several blog posts on the factors (or “evidence”) that the IRS considers in making a worker determination. Here’s one: Behavior Control of an Independent Contractor

Behavioral Control, which you mentioned in your question, is only one of the many factors to be considered.

The IRS says,

“Businesses must weigh all these factors when determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Some factors may indicate that the worker is an employee, while other factors indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. There is no “magic” or set number of factors that “makes” the worker an employee or an independent contractor, and no one factor stands alone in making this determination. Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.”

So citing an Independent Contractor painting your walls is not relevant in determining worker status of a teacher in a homeschool program or Classical Conversations group. They are very different situations.

A better comparison is an adjunct instructor at a local college. The IRS has several rulings about the worker status of college instructors. There have been several court cases involving instructors in an education setting. Reading these court cases and IRS rulings and determinations have led me to the conclusion:

Because instruction is a fundamental component of a homeschool organization, instructors, tutors and teachers should be treated as employees because the homeschool group will always exert control over these workers. (from Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization by Carol Topp, CPA)

 

If you want more details, my book Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization will be a big help.

I also offer a Worker Determination service to help decide if your tutors are misclassified as Independent Contractor  when they should be paid as employees.
Carol Topp, CPA

Can CC Director offered reduced tuition to her tutors?

 

Can a Classical Conversations director gift an Independent Contractor or employee with free or reduced tuition?

Suzy

 

Suzy,
A Classical Conversations (CC) Director can give educational benefits (i.e., discounts on tuition) to Independent Contractors (IC) or employees, but (and this is a big, “but”) the value of these educational benefits is taxable income and must be reported on their W-2 or 1099-MISC.

So a CC director can offer a tuition discount to an IC or employee, but must add the value of that discount to the tax reports she gives to her tutors (1099-MISC or W-2).

And the worker must report her paid wages and the value of this discount/gift on her tax return as taxable income. You should warn her about that in writing and face-to-face, so they aren’t surprised at tax time!

We think that taxable income is only what comes in a paycheck, but the IRS defines taxable compensation to include “educational benefits.”

compensation includes salary or wages, deferred compensation, retirement benefits…, fringe benefits (personal vehicle, meals, lodging, personal and family educational benefits, low interest loans, payment of personal travel, entertainment, or other expenses, athletic or country club membership, and personal use of your property), and bonuses.[i]  (my emphasis added)

[i] Instructions for Form 1023 https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i1023/ch02.html#d0e1909

So, yes, a CC Director can offer free or reduced fees to an Independent Contractor or employee, but it is not a gift; it is taxable income and must be included in their wage and income reporting.

A CC Director should also check her license agreement with Classical Conversations to see if reduced fees are allowed.

If you have additional tax questions about being a CC Director, I wrote an ebook that can help!
Taxes for Licensed CC Directors is available from Classical Conversation. Find it here
Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com