How to Convert Your Homeschool Business into a Nonprofit Organization

 

 

Sometimes a homeschool group that started as a for-profit business wants to convert to a nonprofit organization.

Can that be done? Yes!

How hard is it?

How costly is it?

What steps do I take?

 

I’m offering a webinar on How to Convert Your Business into a Nonprofit Organization for Homeschool Programs

Now it has a new name!

Create a Nonprofit Organization for Your Homeschool Community

This is a slight name change from the original webinar. As I was preparing the slides, I realized that the information I was sharing was broad enough to be helpful to anyone starting a new homeschool nonprofit or converting a business to a nonprofit. So I re-named the webinar and I also reduced the price to $10 to make it affordable to more people.

The webinar will be airing live on Monday April 22, 2019 at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT/6 pt MT/5 pm PT.

 

The goal of this webinar is to equip homeschool leaders with an understanding of how to form a nonprofit. You will understand:

  • The steps to take
  • What documents need to be filed and with who
  • The cost and time commitment
  • How to determine if this is a viable option for your homeschool program to pursue

The webinar will cover:

  • The difference between a business and a nonprofit
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a nonprofit
  • Forming a board: who can be one it, what do they do, etc.
  • Creating bylaws
  • Drafting a budget
  • Setting up a bank account
  • Forming a nonprofit corporation in your state
  • The timeline to get this all done
  • The expense to accomplish this

A follow up webinar will cover the IRS Form 1023/1023-EZ Application for 501c3 Tax Exempt Status. It will air sometime in June 2019.

Who should register?

  • Brand new start up homeschool groups
  • Existing groups that never formed as a nonprofit
  • Homeschool communities run as a business that want to convert to be a nonprofit
  • Leaders that are unsure if their homeschool group is a business or a nonprofit. It can be confusing!

The webinar fee is $10. 

You will receive:

  • Access to the live webinar with a chat room to ask questions
  • A link to the recording of the video to watch later
  • A copy of the slides from the webinar

 

Your host:

Carol Topp, CPA is the owner of HomeschoolCPA.com and has assisted more than 150 homeschool organizations apply for 501c3 tax exempt status. She is the author of 15 books.

 

 

 

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

 

Is your homeschool program a ministry or a business?

Sometimes I hear people calling their business a “ministry.”

Maybe because they are motivated by concern and care for their customers or because they donate a lot of their time for free.

I don’t refer to my accounting and consulting business as a ministry, but some people have thanked me for “my ministry” to homeschoolers.

Yes, I do give a lot of my time away for free especially on social media like this Facebook group for homeschool leaders that I moderate and frequently I might reply to an email without charging a fee (if it is a short reply!)

But I am running a business and I don’t want to give the false impression that I am running a ministry or operating a nonprofit organization.

OK, not a lot of accounting firms get confused with nonprofits (!), but there are some businesses and homeschool programs that present themselves as nonprofit organizations or “ministries” but they are really for-profit businesses.

I don’t like that. At best, it is confusing to call your business a ministry. At worst, it is deceptive and can damage the reputation of homeschooling.

 

I have tremendous respect for the late Larry Burkett founder of Christian Financial Concepts (now Crown Financial Ministries) who was both a business owner and operated a nonprofit ministry. He wrote:

Don’t practice deception. If you have a product to sell that you honestly believe will benefit other Christians, let it be known, but don’t promote it as a ministry or as a spiritual happening.

Let your yes be yes and your no be no. In other words, let people know what the company is and what the product is.

If there is a referral or finder’s fee paid to another person for a lead, let that be known too.

If you’re afraid of losing a sale because of total honesty, the program is dishonest.

Source: Larry Burkett in Using Your Money Wisely p. 76 and 77 copyright 1985. You can read a longer excerpt here.

 

I have heard from several nonprofit homeschool organizations that say churches in their local communities got “burned” by for-profit homeschool groups posing as “ministries.” Read this blog post to understand why churches are reluctant to host for-profit businesses.

Now these legitimate nonprofit homeschool groups have difficulty getting a church to host their program.

Being deceptive hurts everyone.

We’re better than that!

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Helping homeschool leaders

Join the webinar tonight on starting an academic homeschool program

 

Are you considering starting a homeschool program? An academic program, not a co-op and not a for-profit business either. But a nonprofit organization with an academic focus, maybe a classical emphasis, too.

You’re motivated! But where to begin?

Carol Topp, CPA, the Homeschool CPA and Jamie Buckland are teaming up to to help you!

ABC’s of an Academic Homeschool Program

An hour-long webinar on Monday February 18, 2019 at 8 pm ET

Jamie Buckland of Classical Program Consultant has run both a for-profit classical homeschool program and is currently the Executive Director of Appalachian Classical Academy, a nonprofit 501c3 organization. She will share about Administration and Curriculum

  • How your culture affects an academic program when it comes to logistics.
  • What to look for in the Board of Directors
  • Why have an Advisory Council
  • Why employ tutors
  • How to train employees
  • How to assess employees
  • Why charge tuition
  • How to communicate with families
  • How to determine curriculum for your program

Carol Topp, CPA is the owner of HomeschoolCPA.com and has assisted more than 80 homeschool organizations apply for tax exempt status. She is the author of 15 books and will share about Business

  • Why and how to organize as a nonprofit
  • Applying for 501c3 tax exempt status
  • A timeline: How fast can you get this done?

There will be time for questions and answers.

  • Cost is $30 and includes live webinar access and ability to view the recording.
  • Jamie’s extensive questionnaire for homeschool parents looking to create a homeschool program.
  • Copy of Carol’s ebook The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization.
  • Slide handout

Getting an hour with these two experts and their materials would typically cost you $165.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

How to start an academic homeschool program



Learn the ABC’s of starting an Academic Homeschool Program

Have you considered wanting to start a homeschool program? An academic program, but not a co-op and not a for-profit business, either. But a nonprofit organization with an academic emphasis–maybe with a classical education focus.

Sounds like a great idea! But where to begin?

Feeling overwhelmed?

We’re here to help.

Carol Topp, CPA, the Homeschool CPA and Jamie Buckland are teaming up to to bring you:

ABC’s of an Academic Homeschool Program

This 90 minute webinar is packed with information to help you launch an academic homeschool program.

The cost for the recorded webinar is $20 and includes :

    • Jamie’s extensive questionnaire for homeschool parents looking to create a homeschool program.
    • Copy of Carol’s ebook The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization to help you understand nonprofit and tax exempt status
    • Webinar slide handouts

Getting an hour with these two experts and their materials would typically cost you $165.


The ABC webinar with Jamie Buckland and Carol Topp was top notch! Very informative. It was presented so clearly and in an organized manner. I thank you ladies for making your knowledge available to us-Beth M.

The webinar was extremely helpful.-Erika


 

Jamie Buckland of Classical Program Consultant has run both a for-profit classical homeschool program and is currently the Executive Director of Appalachian Classical Academy, a nonprofit 501c3 organization. She will share about Administration

  • How your culture affects an academic program when it comes to logistics.
  • What to look for in the Board of Directors
  • Why have an Advisory Council
  • Why employ tutors
  • How to train employees
  • How to assess employees
  • Why charge tuition
  • How to communicate with families

Carol Topp, CPA is the owner of HomeschoolCPA.com and has assisted more than 80 homeschool organizations apply for 501c3 tax exempt status. She is the author of 15 books and will share about Business

  • How to organize as a nonprofit
  • Applying for 501c3 tax exempt status
  • Converting a for-profit business to nonprofit
  • A timeline: How fast can you get this done?

Then Jamie wraps up by discussing Curriculum

  • How to determine curriculum for your program

$20.00 includes unlimited viewing, ebook, handouts and handouts of slides.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

We don’t want 501c3 status. Should we still include the IRS language in the Articles?

We recently formed a non-profit in Texas but do not want to file for 501c3 tax exempt status.  When we created our bylaws your site was very helpful to us.  I thought I read somewhere on your site that it is better to include the IRS 501c3 verbiage from the beginning so that if we ever decided to do that, it would already be included.

I now can not find where I thought I read that.

Do we need to include it anyway or should it be left out if we have no plans on filing 501c3?

Thanks so much,
Cathy

 

Cathy,

The IRS requires their specific language to be included in your “organizing documents.” That’s usually the Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Association if your group is not a nonprofit corporation.

This requirement is found in the IRS Instructions to the Form 1203 Application for Tax exempt Status and IRS Pub 557 Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization (p. 22)

If you have no plans to request tax exemption as a 501(c)(3) charitable or educational organization, then your Articles of Incorporation do not have to include the IRS required language.

 

But, being a CPA, I always think about money and taxes, so I will warn you that without 501 tax exempt status of some kind (501c3 or c4 or c7), your organization must be filing a corporate income tax return, IRS Form 1120, every year and paying  federal taxes on any surplus you had that year. Texas may have a corporate or franchise tax as well.

By the way, that Form 1120 can be pretty complex. You’ll probably need professional help from a CPA to prepare it. You have to prepare and submit this form every year even if you didn’t have any profit! The Form 1120 shows the IRS that you didn’t have any profit!

So, you might want to reconsider your decision not to apply for tax exempt status.

I’m happy to discuss the pros and cons of tax exempt status with your board. Contact me.

 

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Should your homeschool Director serve as a board member?

Sometimes a homeschool groups gets large enough that they want to hire or pay their Director. In nonprofits that position is usually called the Executive Director or even Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

It is usually the first paid position in a nonprofit.

The Executive Director is similar to a pastor at a church. He (or she, depending on your denomination) is hired by the board of the church and does a lot of the day-to-day running of the church.

It’s similar in a homeschool nonprofit: the paid director is hired by the board to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization.

But should that hired Director serve on your board?

BoardSource (an excellent website for help in running your nonprofit board) says., ”

BoardSource also recommends nonvoting status for chief executives, unless not permitted by law. We embrace nonvoting status in recognition of the fact that actual or perceived conflicts of interest may naturally come along with the pairing of this position with board member status.

 

I, too, like the idea of a paid Director serving as a nonvoting board member.

I’ve seen it work well on some boards to have the Director attend meetings, give a report, share her opinion, etc, but not be allowed a vote.

When I served on my church’s board of trustees, the pastor came to the meeting, gave a report, was free to voice an opinion, but had no vote. That way he avoided a conflict of interest.

The paid Director should not vote because she has a conflict of interest: Is she thinking of the good of the group first and foremost or is she thinking about her job and her paycheck?

The volunteer Director does not have that conflict of interest, so he or she is usually still given voting rights.

If you decide to pay your Director:

  • Make sure you update your bylaws
  • Adopt a Conflict of Interest policy.
  • Read about paying people in your homeschool organization.

Need help with those issues?

 

My book, Homeschool Organization Board Manual can help with:

  • Sample Conflict of Interest policies
  • Sample Bylaws
  • Board descriptions
  • Compensation and Benefits for Board Members

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

 

 

Board member of a homeschool nonprofit feeling vulnerable!

I’m the president of a homeschool co-op. Am I personally liable if someone were to sue or come after the co-op? I already feel slightly vulnerable in this area as the president and having my signature on our building contract, etc.

Danielle,

Danielle,

As president your are an officer of our nonprofit organization and as an officer there are certain responsibilities that you carry more so than other board members and certainly more so than the co-op’s family participants.

With the authority comes responsibility.

But responsibility does not automatically mean personal liability, if you do your fiduciary duties and do not commit acts of gross negligence or fraud.

What are those fiduciary duties?

Duty of Care, Duty of Loyalty, Duty of Management and Duty of Compliance

To better understand these duties as board members and do them here’s some help:

A prudent board member can reduce the risk of lawsuits by understanding the duties and

  • incorporating as a nonprofit
  • obeying the bylaws and laws in general
  • carrying insurance
  • being educated on nonprofit duties and risk

To get educated, there are some excellent resources online for nonprofit boards like these:

Each of these websites have excellent resources to help you run your nonprofit.
Ultimately, feeling slightly vulnerable will probably force you to manage risk, do your duties, and run the organization properly, so that’s a good thing!
In other words, it keeps you on your toes to feel the weight of responsibility!
Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Should your homeschool group be collecting sales tax?

Sales tax. Ugh!! As if dealing with the IRS and income tax isn’t enough of a headache, your homeschool organization might need to be collecting and paying sales tax as well!

From the Church Law and Tax blog comes some helpful information about sales tax that applies to homeschool organizations.

Sales taxes are collected in 44 states. Each state has a different sales tax statute and exempts certain types of purchasers from the payment of sales tax.

Some states exempt any organization with 501(c)(3) status from paying sales tax on purchases. Other states offer limited sales tax exemptions.

Collecting Sales Tax

But I’m not talking about paying sales tax when you buy stuff like paper towels or microscopes.

I’m talking about when your homeschool group sells stuff (aka tangible personal property).

What kind of stuff? How about:

  • Text books (some states exempt textbooks form sales tax.)
  • Tickets to drama performances (yes, some states add sales tax to ticket sales!!)
  • Food sales (in some states food sales, especially snack foods and soft drinks are sales-taxable)
  • T shirts, even if they are a fundraiser!

The rules for when an organization is exempt from collecting sales tax are different form the rules about paying sales tax.

Most states do not exempt churches from collecting sales tax on taxable transactions. As a result, a church that conducts taxable transactions is required to have a sales tax permit.

Most states have a nuisance exception to the requirement of having a sales tax permit, which allows churches to have taxable sales a couple of days a year without the requirement of collecting sales tax. Since every state is different, you should check with your state revenue department. (Source: https://www.churchlawandtax.com/web/2008/september/exceptions-to-exemption.html)

 

For example: In Ohio a homeschool co-op with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status can buy things (like books, supplies, etc) without paying sales tax.

But Ohio only allows nonprofits 5 days a year to hold sales without collecting sales tax. It’s kind of like they are saying, “use those 5 days wisely…you only get 5 sales-tax free days to sell stuff each year!” So maybe the co-op wants to have a big fundraising event and sell items. That’s one of the 5 days they can sell items and not have to collect sales tax.

 

Sales Tax on Fundraiser Sales

You may be thinking your homeschool group can avoid collecting sales tax because you only sell things as part of a fundraiser. Sorry, bed news…

Virtually any form of fundraiser that involves the sale of a product will also require the collection of sales tax. (Source: https://www.churchlawandtax.com/web/2008/september/exceptions-to-exemption.html)

Sales Tax Laws vary by State

Each state has different rules about how and what they apply sales tax to and what organizations can be exempt from collecting sales tax.

It will take some detective work to figure out what your state’s rules are! It’s one of the headaches of living in a country with 50 states (and Washington DC!).

How to Get Help

  • Start with your state’s department of revenue website. Look for words like “sales tax” and then “exemptions” Then look for words like “nonprofit” and “exemption.” Happy reading. The states don’t make it easy to find the exceptions to taxes!
  • Google “Sales tax exemption nonprofit YOUR STATE” and start hunting.
  • I find TaxJar.com and Avalara.com are two helpful websites with information on sales tax.
  • Contact me, Carol Topp, CPA. I’ve done the detective work for several states (about 30) and can sometimes help you or at least point you in the right direction. I charge a fee for this research of $50.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

Should a Classical Conversations Director be an LLC?

I am a CC director. I am not sure what is the best option when it comes to register our community. A LLC or as a Sole Proprietor? Thank you so much for your help.

Maria

 

Maria,

By default, if you are the only owner of your business, you are a sole proprietor. You could consider adding LLC status to your sole proprietorship business if you want the limited liability protections that LLC status offers.

The reason that most businesses use the LLC structure is for limited liability. That means the liability is limited to your business and its assets and not your personal assets. I organized my own sole proprietorship accounting practice as an LLC  because I wanted limited liability and protection of my personal assets. LLC status can be added to your sole proprietorship business at any time. I ran my accounting business for 3 years and then added LLC status.

I recommend that you read up on LLC status, how to get it, maintain it (there are things you should do like not co-mingle funds and sign contracts in the name of the LLC, etc) , and what is required in your state regarding fees and reports. Some states charge a one-time fee, some charge a yearly fee and annual reports.

 

Since this is a website mainly for homeschool nonprofit organizations, I will add this note: For a nonprofit organization, such as most homeschool groups, I typically do not recommend LLC status since nonprofit corporation status in your state brings similar protections of limited liability. 

Here is a podcast episode where I discuss Should Your Homeschool Group Be An LLC?

 

But Maria is asking about LLC status for her for-profit business, not a nonprofit organization, and my advice to her may be very different from my advice to a nonprofit organization.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

I am not an attorney, nor am I offering legal advice. I recommend that you seek legal counsel if you have additional questions about Limited Liability Company status.