6 Suggestions To Keep Uncle Sam Happy With Your Homeschool
When you finally made the decision to teach your children at home, there were understandably dozens of concerns that raced through your mind. Making sure that Uncle Sam got his cut of any money you raised to pay for books, materials, trips, or other educational supplies probably wasn't high on the list of stuff that kept you up at night.
However, the reality is that if you ever decide to solicit outside funding for any aspect of your homeschool enterprise, you may have income to report.
And, as everybody knows, failure to report income is well... not encouraged by the Internal Revenue Service.
So, what do you absolutely need to know in order to avoid a difficult situation with the IRS?
Meet With an Accountant
I strongly recommend that you speak with a local accountant and explain to him or her what you are planning to do. And I stress the verb tense here. Consult with the accountant before.
Track Down Your Local Homeschool Association
I would reach out to the leadership of the local homeschool network in your area to ask their advice and learn from their experience. Perhaps they have an established fundraising event themselves, and you could participate in it. There's no sense in blazing your own trail, if someone else has already cleared a path.
Ask Detailed Questions of Any Fundraising Company You're Thinking of Using
If you decide to go the route of a product sales fundraiser and you are considering using a professional supplier, I would recommend consulting with them before entering into an official agreement. Perhaps they have previously dealt with homeschool families before, and they can help guide you through any tax implications there might be.
Find Out Exactly What Being a Non-Profit Really Means
I would suggest doing a little reading on the exact nature of what a non-profit organization truly is. It is very easy to say that you would like to become a non-profit, but it is an entirely more difficult matter to actually do it. In fact, there are significant differences between a state-recognized and a federally designated non-profit group. To gain the highest level of non-profit status, for instance, requires an application fee of at least $500 and months of detailed work on tax forms and budgets. After you gather all the facts, you should have a good idea if this is truly the route you want to pursue.
Visit the Homeschool CPA Online
I would read and become very familiar with the blog called Homeschool CPA The author of this site is Carol Topp, and she is a certified CPA, who has become an authority in the field of homeschool fundraising. She answers direct questions online, so you can email her with your specific situation, if you like. After reading through her entire site, I highly recommend it.
Keep Thorough Records
When it comes to raising money, I strongly urge you to keep excellent records of everything you spend and everything you earn. This will make it much easier if you ever do have to go back and justify your actions.
You enter into the practice of teaching your own children for very noble reasons. Don't let issues like tax requirements derail your overall mission. Spend some valuable time up front, learning what's required of you by the IRS, so you can spend future quality time in pursuit of academic excellence for your children.
About the Author: James Berigan is a former school principal who enjoys guiding schools with their fundraising efforts. He writes for the Top School Fundraisers blog at http://TopSchoolFundraisers.com/news which includes a variety of fundraising options like fundraising events and school carnivals.
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