Are fundraisers harming your chances for tax exempt status?

Many homeschool organizations depend on fund raisers to help run their homeschool co-ops and support groups. These fund raisers could actually harm a group’s chances of obtaining tax exempt status.

Fundraiser income was significant for this homeschool group

Julie is treasurer of a homeschool co-op in Oklahoma that desires to file for 501c3 tax exempt status with the IRS. I examined her financial statements and saw that the group depended heavily on profit from fund raisers including candy, food and flower sales. These fund raisers required Julie to collect over $12,000 a year in sales. The co-op made a profit of nearly $4,000 every year from their fund raisers.

“It’s a blessing to the co-op, because many of our families cannot afford even the small co-op fees we charge. And friends and neighbors beg us to keep selling our products, especially the locally made food.”

The profit from the fundraisers was actually more than the amount collected in co-op dues.

Unfortunately, with most of the co-op’s income coming from fundraisers and not membership fees or the group’s educational programs, the IRS may not grant Julie’s co-op 501c3 tax exempt status.

The IRS requires a significant portion of your income come from public support (i.e., the dues from your families or your programs) and not from an “unrelated businesses” (i.e. selling products in a fund raiser). The IRS defines “significant” in this situation as having more than 1/3 of your income come from public support.

IRS exceptions

Fortunately for Julie’s group, the IRS has several exceptions. One of them worked for Julie’s group. Her fundraising efforts were all done by volunteers and so the IRS considers that fundraiser as not being “unrelated business income” and that means they meet the 1/3 test mentioned above.

The IRS rules and exceptions for “unrelated business income” get a bit complicated and both the homeschool leader and I did our research. We were very careful and thorough when explaining the fund raising program to the IRS when Julie’s nonprofit filed for tax exempt status with the IRS.

More information about fundraisers

If your group has concerns about their fundraising practices, these related blog posts might help:

The IRS’s Word on Fundraising Do’s and Don’ts

The IRS and Fund Raising

What does the IRS mean by not allowing “private benefit” in a fund raiser?

…working to keep you on  the right side with the IRS!


My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization has been helpful to hundreds of homeschool groups. It includes a chapter on “Easy Fundraisers” too!

_____________________________________

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

A budget can reduce stress

 

As a homeschool leader, are you “a people person” and hate dealing with numbers or a budget? Do numbers or a budget stresses you out?

Numbers on a budget can help homeschool leaders plan and look to the future. A budget can do a lot to reduce stress.

If you make a plan and know what might be coming, it will help you set priorities.

 

I’m writing this during the COVID-19 pandemic, something none of us planned for!  But hopefully, we will be returning to “normal” (whatever that will look like!) sometime soon.

Aren’t we glad that many scientists and hospitals had already made pandemic plans? Yes, we have had shortages and problems, but we’ve coped a lot better because some leaders made plans.

A budget helps you and your leadership team ask yourselves :

  • What is important to us in our group? Is it cost, convenience or quality? You cannot offer all three! Choose two.
  • Is it important that we keep the cost extremely low? A budget that aims for low cost is going to be a very different budget than one aiming for top quality.

Good, easy and cheap. Your homeschool program cannot offer all three!

A budget helps you focus, plan, and set your group’s priorities.   So, believe it or not–having a budget might sound like it is a limiting thing, and some people don’t like budgets. But instead a budget can bring great freedom and relief from a lot of stress.  


If you need help establishing a budget, start with my article  Budgeting basics

And consider ordering my book Money Management for Homeschool Organizations.

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.


Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

What does it cost to get tax exempt status?

How much does it cost to be a 501c3? My homeschool group is new and we don’t have a lot of money.
-Homeschool leader

 

Dear homeschool leader,

It’s not as expensive to apply for 501c3 tax exempt status as it used to be, especially if your organization is small (revenues less than $50,000/year) and is eligible to file the shorter IRS Form 1023-EZ.

Here’s an explanation of the cost to get 501c3 status from my webinar on 501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits

This webinar (90 minutes total length) will explain the benefits of tax exempt status, the application process and walk you through the application Form 1023-EZ line-by-line. At the end of the webinar you’ll be equipped to apply for tax exempt status by yourself. The cost of the webinar is $25.

 

Get more information on the webinar 501c3 Application for Homeschool Nonprofits

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

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

Are you Confused by your Homeschool Group’s Financial Reports? Webinar for you!

Are you confused by the financial reports from your homeschool group?

You’re not alone!

In this short podcast episode (8 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, will tell you about a webinar she is hosting on Monday October 29, 2018 at 8 pm ET.

Financial Reports for Homeschool Groups: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In the podcast Carol mentioned how to register for the webinar.

There is no charge for the webinar but a payment is gladly accepted to offset the cost of hosting the webinar.
https://Paypal.Me/CarolTopp/5 to pay $5.00
https://Paypal.Me/CarolTopp/10 to pay $10.00

The webinar will be recorded, so please Register so that you will be emailed the link to the video.

Like handouts? Here’s a helpful handout: Financial Reports Webinar Handout (pdf)

 

Do financial reports confuse you?

Has this happened to you?

You are at your homeschool leaders meeting. The treasurer hands out a paper showing the group’s financial status. It’s confusing, hard to read, and has weird dollar signs and labels.

You’re too embarrassed to show your ignorance about the report, so you don’t ask any questions.

Neither does anyone else.

You’re wondering, “Am I the only one who finds this confusing? No one else asked any questions, so they must get it. I’ll just keep quiet and hope for the best.”

Good news! The problem isn’t you!

It’s probably the way the treasurer is displaying the financial report.

I’ve seen all kinds of financial reports from homeschool groups. Many are very confusing and difficult to understand (and I’m an accountant!).

This prompted me to record a webinar for homeschool group leaders on how to present financial reports that are clear and easy to understand to board members.

During this webinar you will learn:

  • What are the two most important reports for your board to see regularly
  • What mistakes treasurers make
  • How to read a financial report
  • Know what red flags to look for
  • Know if your organization is healthy or doing poorly
  • How to a better manager and leader
  • Use the financial report to make decisions and set goals.

You will be shown the good, the bad and the ugly of financial reports in this FREE webinar recording.

Financial Reports for Homeschool Groups:

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Like handouts? Here’s a helpful handout: Financial Reports Webinar Handout (pdf)

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Webinar: Financial Reports for Homeschool Groups

 

I’ve seen all kinds of financial reports from homeschool groups. Many are very confusing and difficult to understand (and I’m an accountant!).

So I am offering a webinar for homeschool group leaders on how to present financial reports that are clear and easy to understand to board members.

During this webinar you will learn:

  • How to read a financial report
  • Know what red flags to look for
  • What are the two most important reports for your board to see regularly
  • What mistakes treasurers make
  • Use the financial report to make decisions and set goals.

You will be shown the good, the bad and the ugly of financial reports.

Financial Reports for Homeschool Groups: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 

The webinar was recorded and you can watch it on YouTube

 

Like handouts? Here’s a helpful handout: Financial Reports Webinar Handout (pdf)

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

QuickBooks tip for homeschool groups: Sales

 

Here’s a  tip for all you homeschool groups using QuickBooks (or something similar like Apolos or Wave)

In the homeschooling world don’t usually think of our members as “customers” but that’s what QuickBooks calls them.

Members = Customers

We also don’t think of collecting registration dues or field trip fees as “sales” but that’s what QuickBooks calls it when you collect money and provide a service.

Registration Fees = Sales Income

Field Trip fees = Sales Income

Co-op Class fees = Sales Income

You should set up several categories on your Chart of Accounts for different types of Income. You may want to change the titles of Income accounts in QuickBooks to match your program. So instead of “Sales” Use “Program Income” or just plain “Income”

Make use of subaccounts under Income for things like

  • Membership dues
  • Co-op Tuition
  • Field Trips Income
My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization  has some tips for using Quickbooks like setting up a Chart of Accounts and a who are your “Customers” and what are your “Sales.”

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschooCPA.com

 

 

Do CC Directors pay for their own children’s tuition?

Do Classical Conversations (CC) Directors have to write a check (to themselves) for full tuition for each of their kids?

Karen-CC Director

Karen,

No. You do not have to write a check to your business for your children’s tuition. 

Here’s why:

If you pay your licensing fee based on student enrollment/tuition collected, you should track the total tuition collected including your own children in that head count. That way you is paying the correct amount for your licensing fee.

But for tax purposes, a you should NOT write your business a check for your own children’s tuition. Additionally, you do not include your child’s tuition in the income reported on your tax return (I’m assuming Karen, that you are operating your business as a sole proprietorship).

The reason is a principle in taxation called imputed income.

It states that a person should not be taxed when they avoid paying for services by providing the services to themselves.

There was a court case in 1928 that ruled that the imputed income from produce grown and eaten by a farm owner is not taxable as income to the farmer.[9]

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imputed_income#cite_note-9. See Footnote 9 Morris v. Commissioner, 9 B.T.A. 1273, 1278 (1928). Accessed January 20, 2019. See footnote 9

Conclusion: Karen must keep track of the tuition she would owe for her children so that she pays the correct licensing fees, but she does not need to write a tuition check to her business and she should not report her child’s tuition as taxable income on her business tax return (Schedule C).

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

My book Taxes for Licensed Classical Conversations Directors is available through Classical Conversations. Find it  in the Directors Licensing Guide  page 54, Appendix M and click on “this document.”