Here’s a list of homeschool expenses you can deduct on your federal income tax return (Form 1040):
Yes, that’s the list! It’s empty. There are NO homeschool expenses that you can deduct on your individual federal income tax return.
(Sorry for the click bait in the title!)
Homeschooling expenses are personal expenses, like groceries or clothes, and are not tax deductible on the US federal income tax return.
You cannot deduct your groceries or your clothes on your tax return and you cannot deduct your homeschooling expenses on your federal income tax return, either.
A few states may allow a tax deduction, a tax credit, or an educational saving account. But not your Uncle Sam (the US federal government).
Clever ideas to dodge taxes (that won’t work)
Sometimes homeschool families try to get clever and think that they will form a homeschool business and deduct the expenses. The idea is for the dad to hire his wife to teach their children. Then they can deduct school supplies, the mom’s wages as a homeschool teacher, etc.
Sounds pretty clever, huh? Except it doesn’t work anymore than paying mom to cook and feed the family by running an “in-house restaurant” won’t work. That’s because in both these plans (homeschooling as a business and in-house restaurant) there are no customers that are paying for the mom’s services.
Also, the mom has to declare her income to the IRS and she will have to pay taxes on it! That’s why families don’t hire mom to run an in-house restaurant and they shouldn’t hire mom to homeschool the kids either.
So forget the idea of forming your family homeschool as a business.
Homeschools as private school. Any tax breaks?
Some states treat homeschools as private schools, so some families think they can avoid taxes by declaring their private homeschool as a nonprofit organizations and get tax exempt status as a private school. That’s pretty clever too, huh? Only it won’t work.
Briefly, a nonprofit organization exists to serve a group, not an individual. The IRS will not grant “recognized charity” 501(c)(3) tax exempt status to a group that is formed solely to benefit the founder’s family. A tax exempt organization must serve a public good.
The IRS forbids private “inurement” in 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations. Inurement means to be beneficial or advantageous. Inurement occurs when an organization is formed or operates with an incorrect charitable purpose that allows individuals in control to directly and personally benefit from the organization. 501(c)(3) organizations can lose their tax exempt status for practicing inurement.
So forget the idea of your family homeschool becoming a nonprofit organization.
In the end, do what the rest of use do, pay your taxes.
Don’t look to Uncle Sam to give you a tax break because you choose to educate your children at home. Instead appreciate the freedom we have an Americans to homeschool.
Carol Topp, CPA