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Informative and encouraging articles for your homeschool journey.

Homeschool??? What are we doing???

Gale Farrier

It was 1986, we had four children ages 11, 9, 7, 5 and 15 months and I was pregnant with number 5.  Home schooling was not legal in South Carolina and every school district decided what they thought a potential home schooler should do to “qualify” to teach their own children at home.  We were dissatisfied with the two local private schools and certainly did not want our children in public school.   That left us only one possibility—home school.  I had done it for one year in North Carolina with my kindergartener.   I had my degree in elementary education and had decided after student teaching that that was NOT what I wanted to do, and the one year in NC had confirmed my attitude.   Now we were looking at home schooling three children, with two more on the way to needing education.  As we lay in bed that night, having wrestled with the decision, having prayed through all the issues, I was terrified.  I said to my husband, “Do you know what we’re doing?  Do you know what we’re doing?  If our kids fail I can’t blame it on a school or a teacher or a curriculum.  It will be my fault.”   And his reply was, “I’m not worried, you’ll do fine.”  And he turned over and went to sleep.  Reminiscent of Jacob, I wrestled long with God that night.   Finally, exhausted, I said, “Lord, if this is really what You want us to do, You need to assure me of it.”  The next morning I awoke with a settled calm, knowing that we would do it—for THIS year.  Nineteen years later, in 2005, I watched that child with whom I was pregnant in 1986, walk across the stage and receive her high school diploma.  We had completed the journey.   But we had done it, with God’s help and grace, one day at a time, one year at a time.

But those early years were difficult.  Our county was not favorably disposed to home schoolers.   They had already taken one family to court, so they were not opposed to making life difficult for us.  In the end, I wound up producing a 30 page application, including three references from educators who knew me and would vouch for the fact that they thought I could handle home schooling.  I had a thirty minute notice of a home visit.  We were threatened with having our children removed from our home and being charged with educational neglect if we were denied permission and chose to home school anyway.  And for the first five years I needed to send weekly lessons plans for every subject, for every child, with the number of minutes taught, to the local school district.

My husband, while not always actively helping me teach, was always totally supportive and for that I am extremely grateful.  Sometimes all he did was to listen as I ranted about behaviors or attitudes or curriculum problems or some other issue.  Sometimes he took on certain classes—art, Spanish, anatomy.  Often he would make suggestions or take a child aside to deal specifically with him (or her).   But always, he encouraged me along the path.

Looking back now, almost ten years after we completed the journey, there are so many things I would love to encourage our new families with.  First, know that this is God’s mission for you, for this season in your life.  Home schooling will not last forever (though sometimes it seems like it will) and all too soon those children will be gone from your home.   Enjoy each day with your children and remember, if you have a “bad day” that God’s mercies are new every morning—you do not need to use “left over” mercies from yesterday or last week.  God is faithful to His promises.   He will sustain you.   Understand that the freedoms you have to home school are not to be taken for granted.  Families fought hard for those freedoms and they can be quickly taken from you (as we almost saw happen in February of 2013).   Thank God for the privilege you have to train up your children in the way they should go.  Use the resources that are at your disposal—co-ops, dual credits, computers, on-line classes—but remember, it is primarily YOUR responsibility to teach your children. If you’re spending all your time in the car going from one co-op to another, or one special event to another, you are not HOME schooling.  You have merely shifted the responsibility from the traditional school teacher to a variety of other “teachers.”  Be actively involved in your child and his training.   Don’t be tied to your curriculum.  Learn to think “outside the box” especially if you have children who don’t do well with traditional education.  God will supply the necessary creativity if you allow Him to lead you.  And here’s one thing that I learned during those years—sing.   God commands us—yes, commands us—to rejoice in Him.  Even if you can’t “carry a tune in a bucket” sing.  The Psalmist says  “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”  As we rejoice in the Lord, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17.  As God rejoices over us with singing, let us rejoice in Him and in the privilege He gives us with our children.

Homeschooling: America’s Future

By Carrie Stoelting and Stacie Stoelting

The “unsinkable” Titanic represented the finest that modern man could accomplish. People relished in Titanic’s luxury and hailed her as the unsinkable carrier of free society. Yet it only took an iceberg to sink her.

Indeed, it only takes a leak to sink a ship. Right now, our freedoms are slowly drowning. Government is creeping into our private lives more and more and stripping away our personal freedoms.

Consider the court case involving the Romeike family, Common Core, and UNCRPD as only the tip of the iceberg for our beloved country. Yes, persecution against Christians and homeschoolers is truly on the rise in the U.S. Only with Christ-centered families can we stay afloat.

For years, the American family was the bedrock of our country. Now, that tried and true foundation is crumbling. If America is going to fight back to keep her freedom, then it is up to the family to stand up. Yes, it is now up to Christian families –especially homeschooling families- to rise up and lead. Dr. James Dobson said, “Those who control what young people are taught, and what they experience-what they see, hear, think and believe-will determine the future course for the nation.” Yes, Dr. Dobson said it well. In essence, if children are taught that what is evil is good, our country will deteriorate. For example, indoctrination in government schools promotes rejecting God and His precepts which furthers the breakdown of family and our country. However, if children are taught what is honorable and righteous, our country will soar again. When parents love, nurture, and teach their children absolute values, our country benefits. Indeed, we believe that, whenever possible, homeschooling is the best answer if America is to have a brighter future and stay afloat.

As homeschool graduates, we thank God for our parents. They conveyed the importance of engaging children in civics. We have been involved in the government process ever since elementary school. For example, as and sisters from Iowa, we experience the presidential election up close and personal. It’s exciting to meet presidential candidates, attend townhall meetings, and take an active role in a campaign. It is imperative that young people become involved in the workings of our republic.

As young adults, we are active in the charge to encourage homeschool families to step up and lead –our country depends on it. We founded Unite the USA.org, an outreach to inspire and educate others about how to make a positive difference in America. By God’s grace, we have been blessed with opportunities to sing across the country and share on major media including FOX News, American Family Radio, etc. We are also available to speak and sing at homeschool conventions. Now is the time to bow down before the Lord and stand up for what is right!

The final sentence in the Declaration of Independence reads, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

Homeschoolers, now it is our turn to do the same: our freedom is at stake. In our work we are often asked, “How can I help prepare my children to become leaders?” Well, we are on a mission to help. Here are a few tips:

1. Encourage your children to talk with veterans and learn about their experiences and sacrifices on the battlefield and home front. If America’s youth would gain an understanding about the great sacrifices made to keep them free, they would appreciate our country and our veterans.

2. Educate your kids about the wealth of opportunities and advantages that are available in America. Watch documentaries about third world countries and countries under tyrannical law. Or, if possible, visit a less privileged country. That way, your children will value freedom and opportunities in a new way.

3. Take field trips to historical landmarks. It will make America’s history ‘come to life” and they will appreciate our nation’s heritage on a personal level.

4. Make sure that your kids read the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Explain the meaning of each document and allow them to appreciate the documents for themselves.

5. Be a role model to your kids. Show them how they can make a difference in America by voting and demonstrating government practices. Take them to political meetings and to your State Capitol.

More information and tips can be found in our new book titled Unite the USA: Discover the ABCs of Patriotism. Published by a division of Thomas Nelson, Unite the USA offers an abundance of effective methods to fight for freedom on the home front. Our book can be used as a supplemental resource for political science and U.S. History in homeschool curricula. (Visit www.unitetheusa.org to learn more.)

Homeschoolers, America is counting on you! Our future depends on it. May we uphold and hold dear what is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We must not abandon ship. We must tighten our hold of the Bible and tighten the ranks. Yes, let us continue to proudly hold and carry the torch of freedom for all to see. Homeschoolers, march on! With God, victory remains secure.

www.unitetheusa.org/id109.html

Don’t Just Survive: Reclaim Your Space and THRIVE

Heidi St. John

 

Have you ever noticed how quickly your home fills up with “stuff”? 

Most moms I know are busy.  When you’re busy, it can be challenging to keep up with all the stuff that creeps into the car and house. I’d like to tell you I know how all our stuff gets into our house, but honestly, I don’t. I just know that if I don’t keep on top of it, before long, I’m surrounded by clutter and overwhelmed at the thought of what to do with it all.  Can you relate? Clutter creates stress.

It's difficult to create a successful rhythm to your day if you are surrounded by a not-so-wonderful set of twins, I like to call Chaos and Clutter. Left unmanaged, these two will drain you of your time and energy. They are the nemesis of every busy homeschool mom. Along with their cousin, Excess, they are the enemy of a peaceful, organized home. 

We tend to think of our things in terms of the money we spend on them. Did you know there is an emotional cost to the things that you own? Clutter takes up more than physical space. It costs emotionally as well as financially. 

Here’s what I mean: Clutter and disorganization in our homes can rob us of peace and restfulness, leading to feelings of frustration and anxiety. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by all the piles of clutter at home, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s easy to see how too many piles of unfinished business at home can steal our energy. I call my excess stuff my “de-motivation piles”, because just looking at them makes me want to crawl under my covers and never come out.

Obviously, staying in bed is not going to help, but here’s what will: Learn to get a grip on your stuff.  I promise you that learning how to control clutter will translate into more hours in your day! If that sounds appealing to you, then get ready to purge and simplify. You probably don’t need all that stuff you have. 

LEARNING TO THRIVE

Years ago, I learned that one of the secrets to a well-managed, peaceful home, lies in my ability to control both physical and emotional clutter. Physical clutter eventually results in mental clutter. The “overhwhelmed” feeling you have is emotional clutter. You can’t thrive when you’re overwhelmed. It’s time to simplify.

There is something deeply satisfying about simplifying life. We can simplify our things, our schedules, and our homeschooling. I like to start with physical clutter though, because clearing the clutter at home frees us in so many more ways than just physical space. It brings emotional freedom as well.

Are you ready to simplify and de-clutter your home? Before you can organize, you’ve got to prioritize. You’ve got to get rid of excess. We were created by a God of order. Therefore, it makes sense that we function better when there is order in our homes. If you are ready to THRIVE in your role as a wife, mom, and homemaker, keep these six things in mind:

 

T- Tell the Truth

Before you can start purging, you’ve got to be able to tell the truth about your clutter problem.  Let’s start by defining what it actually is:

Clutter is anything that is disorganized. In our home everything has a place. That’s not to say everything is always in its place, but at the end of the day we know where things go.

Clutter is anything you don’t need or love. This is a big one. This is the question I had to ask when I did my first big cleanup. Training the kids to ask this question has helped them to define what they really want to keep, as opposed to what they feel they might want later. It has also helped us to define what we truly value in life. When a home is filled with things we love, rather than things we are just keeping around for a rainy day, it helps us to truly love where we live.

Clutter is too much stuff in too small a space. It frees us mentally and emotionally when we scale down. It’s amazing how wonderful it is to come home to a clean, uncluttered house at the end of the day, or to wake up to a tidy kitchen in the morning.

H - Have a Plan

Start with zones. People ask us all the time how we keep our house tidy and neat with 10 people under one roof. Let me just say this right up front: our house is NOT always neat and tidy. We usually start our days with a clean and tidy house, but within an hour or two it seriously looks like a bomb has gone off in several areas.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that the key to living peacefully, with a houseful of kids, is to have a plan to keep order, rather than an expectation that the house should look like a show home from Better Homes and Gardens all the time!

We have tried different methods for keeping up with housework during different seasons of life in our family. When all the children were very young, a schedule taped to the refrigerator door helped tremendously. On it, we had areas of our home divided into zones. Each child was assigned one of these zones.

A zone might be the hallway and guest bathroom, the entry way or kitchen.

Even little ones can have their own zone. Our three year old loved tidying her zone ... it was her toy box!

The best thing about zones though, is that you can use them to tidy up for company in no time flat! This is because you’re not trying to figure out which parts of the house need attention. Everyone just tidies up his or her zone.

When your home is filled with clutter, trying to tackle a mountain of stuff can

be quite overwhelming. It’s easy to get discouraged by a task that seems insurmountable when you’re trying to raise a family, and homeschool at the

same time!

R - Restore Order

So, here’s my advice: Start with just fifteen minutes at a time. You can do just about anything in fifteen minutes a day! You can create a place for incoming papers, clear off a counter, or take fifteen things out of your house – for good.

Write down what rooms need your attention first. If you can write them all down

in order of priority, you can come up with a game plan to tackle the job.

Once you have written down which rooms need the most attention, choose one to start in. Just getting one room done will motivate you toward success, and spur you on to your next room. It’s much like being on a diet! Losing two pounds is good motivation to continue on and lose two more. Start small. One step at

a time! 

I - Insist on Teamwork

Here's the best way, I have found, to tackle large rooms: If you have older children, train them to work alongside you. Encourage them to offer their suggestions, as you rearrange and organize. Some of our kids are really gifted in this area. Allowing them in on the process has not only trained them, it has been a huge blessing to me!

Teach your family what clutter is. Teach them to help you keep it under control. After all, that mess didn’t get there by itself!

Before you start, set out four containers, either boxes or bags. One is for items you will keep, one for giveaway (whether you garage sale, donate, or whatever), one is for items you are not sure what to do with, and one is for trash.

Empty the room. I know this sounds crazy, but, if things have gotten out of hand, it’s the best way to start. Empty the room as much as you possibly can.

When I am getting ready to organize things, I expect things to get worse before they get better. I warn the family ahead of time that it could take a few days before we are finished. Start sorting as you empty the room. BE BRUTAL about what you decide to keep. Ask yourself, “Do I love this?” If you don’t answer yes immediately, it’s time to get rid of it, or set it into a separate box to get back to.

Keep sorting, and take a deep breath, busy homeschool mom, ’cause you’re going to feel a whole lot better when this is done!

V - Verify Need

Ask yourself: Do you need it? Do you love it?

Now you’re ready to move back in. But before you do, remember, you want LESS, not MORE! So, verify with others who can help you decide if it’s clutter or not.  

Move Back In. Once you have taken all the giveaway and trash items out of your house, it’s time for the really fun part—moving things back into the space you cleared out. I am a big fan of keeping beautiful baskets on shelves for organizing. We have baskets with scrap paper in them and baskets that are full of colored pencils. I believe that we even have a basket for storing extra baskets! Point is, EVERYTHING has a place. When you bring things back into the room, have a vision for how you want to display what you keep. For an item to come back in the room, it should:

 

  •  Fit neatly into a designated space
  •  Be something you truly love or use regularly
  •  Not exceed a reasonable number of items

E - Ease of Use

Organize for ease of use: We should be organizing in such a way that it’s easy to keep up with. Fancy charts and bins aren’t worth the money you’ll pay for them if they are too complicated for everyday use.  

 

KEEPING SCHOOL RECORDS

Transcripts. Standardized tests. Record of work done. These words have struck fear into the heart of many a homeschool mom. The idea of keeping meticulous track of school assignments is daunting for a mom with one child, let alone four or more!

Like it or not, though, you need to keep records of your child’s schoolwork.

We use a very simple method for keeping track of school papers and note-booking assignments. ALL of their assignments, love notes, darling drawings that I can’t part with, and artwork, go in one box.

That’s it! Each day, as the children finish their work, they know that they are supposed to write their name and date on the assignment, and put it in the “completed assignments” box. This keeps my table clear of clutter and my mind free from worrying about losing their work.

About once a quarter, we empty the box, saving their best work in sheet protectors. We put them in their notebooks in chronological order. Each child has a notebook. We throw away things that we don’t love or need to keep. That’s it! Simple and effective.

MAINTAINING ORDER

Here are some more quick tips for making sure your new, organized self stays that way:

File important papers – give 15 minutes a day until you get the pile down.

Sort mail as soon as it arrives at your house. Don’t let it pile up.

Clean out desk and kitchen drawers regularly. Or, they become “junk drawers”.

Make daily cleanup a habit.

Make sure the kids (not you) are responsible for tidying up their zones.

Create a space for everything from car keys to tennis shoes.

 

 

Since new things are always coming in … when they do, consider letting something else go.

Can’t you just feel a more organized daylight coming? Life is made much easier, when you don’t have to waste precious time hunting for something that’s been misplaced because of clutter.

Remember, organizing your daylight hours is all about managing your time. Carve out some time in your daily routine for cleanup and organizing. 

Being a mom is challenging, but you can do it! Don’t just survive … reclaim your space and THRIVE!

 

 

 

Heidi St. John has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. They have seven children and have homeschooled all the way through high school. A favorite conference speaker, Heidi approaches homeschooling with humor and grace at events all across North America. Her passion to encourage homeschool moms and set them free to be who God has created them to be will bless and encourage you. Heidi is the author of The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance: Nurturing Your Marriage Through the Homeschool Years and The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight. Jay and Heidi are also the founders and executive directors of First Class Homeschool Ministries, a parachurch organization dedicated to helping churches start parent-led, Bible-focused homeschool cooperatives. First Class has been in operation since 2000 and has over 40 locations across North America.

www.thebusyhomeschoolmom.com

www.firstclasshomeschool.org

How American Homeschoolers Measure Up
 

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up
Source: TopMastersInEducation.com

How Well Do You Know Your SC Homeschool Law?

1. I am starting to home school my five-year-old child. Must I notify the school district? No

A parent or guardian whose child or ward is not six years of age on or before the first day of September of a particular school year may elect for their child or ward not to attend kindergarten. (Section 59-65-10)

2. Is it legal to teach your child at home in South Carolina? Yes

Parents or guardians may teach their children at home (59-65-40)

3. May I teach children other than my own and call it homeschooling? No

Parents or guardians may teach their children at home (59-65-40)

4. Do I need a South Carolina teacher’s license to homeschool? No

the parent holds at least a high school diploma or the equivalent general educational development (GED) certificate or has earned a baccalaureate degree; (59-65-40)

5. Do I have to keep track of instructional days and instructional hours? Yes

the instructional day is at least four and one-half hours, excluding lunch and recesses, and the instructional year is at least one hundred eighty days; (59-65-40) or the instructional year is at least one hundred eighty days (59-65-45) (59-65-47)

6. May I teach less than 180 days? No

instructional year is at least one hundred eighty days; (59-65-40) (59-65-45) (59-65-47)

7. May I teach more than 180 days? Yes

instructional year is at least one hundred eighty days; (59-65-40) (59-65-45) (59-65-47)

8. I’m not good at history or science. May I choose not to cover these subjects? No

the curriculum includes, but is not limited to, science, and social studies (59-65-40) (59-65-45) (59-65-47)

9. I am starting to home school my six-year-old. Must I notify the school district? Yes–or your accountability group.

All parents or guardians shall cause their children or wards to attend regularly a public or private school or kindergarten of this State which has been approved by the State Board of Education or a member school of the South Carolina Independent Schools’ Association or other programs which have been approved by the State Board of Education from the school year in which the child or ward is five years of age before September first. (59-65-10)

10. My child has turned seventeen. Do I have to continue my home school program or provide notice? No

All parents or guardians shall cause their children or wards to attend regularly a public or private school or other programs which have been approved by the State Board of Education until the child or ward attains his seventeenth birthday or graduates from high school. (59-65-10)

11. Must I test my child at every grade level? Only if you are using the first option.

students must participate in the annual statewide testing program and the Basic Skills Assessment Program approved by the State Board of Education for their appropriate grade level. (59-65-40). No testing requirements for (59-65-45) (59-65-47)

12. Do I have to keep records on attendance, test and evaluation results? Yes.

as evidence that a student is receiving regular instruction, the parent shall present a system for maintaining and maintain the following records for inspection upon reasonable notice by a representative of the school district: plan book, diary, or other written record indicating subjects taught and activities in which the student and parent engage; a portfolio of samples of the student’s academic work; and a record of evaluations of the student’s academic progress. A semiannual progress report including attendance records and individualized assessments of the student’s academic progress in each of the basic instructional areas specified must be submitted to the school district. (59-65-40)

educational records shall be maintained by the parent-teacher and include: a plan book, diary, or other record indicating subjects taught and activities in which the student and parent-teacher engage; a portfolio of samples of the student’s academic work; and a semiannual progress report including attendance records and individualized documentation of the student’s academic progress in each of the basic instructional areas. (59-64-47)

13. Can a grandparent teach my children while I’m at work? No

parents or guardians may teach their children at home (59-64-40)(59-64-45)(59-64-47)

14. What happens if I decide to put my child back in traditional school?

If home-schooled students return to a South Carolina public school district, the district has the right to place the students in classes/grade levels which the district/school deems is instructionally appropriate for the students. In other words, because parents tell the district that the students have completed certain grade levels, does not mean the students will be placed into the next grade level.
(District instructional placement of returning home-schooled students is usually based on some type of test results that the district determines.) SC Dept of Ed. web site

15. How do I choose a third option group?

SCHEA recommends that parents seek personal recommendations from other home educators as well as carefully investigating the level of service prior to joining any of these groups. SCHEA web site

16. How do I know if a third option group is any good?

The services and quality of services vary widely. Therefore SCHEA recommends that parents seek personal recommendations from other home educators as well as carefully investigating the level of service prior to joining any of these groups. SCHEA web site

17. Does SCHEA or the DOE accredit any accountability group? No

The SCDE
does not accredit any home school association. The SCDE does not have the authority to approve or endorse any of the home school associations listed on the department’s Web site. SC Dept of Ed.

18. Can I home school my foster child? Yes.

A foster parent may teach a foster child at home, if, in addition to any other requirements, home schooling of the child has been approved by the Department of Social Services or other agency having custody of the child . (59-65-46).

19 Can my home schooled child participate in public school sports or other extra curricular activities? Yes.

Act 203, the Equal Access to Interscholastic Activities Act, permits home-schooled students to participate in extra-curricular and interscholastic activities after statutorily-required conditions are met.

Do You Know About IRS Required Filings for Homeschool Groups?

by Carol Topp, CPA

Homeschool leaders frequently ask me, “Is my group supposed to be paying taxes to the IRS?” They wonder if there is anything they should be reporting to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), if so, what forms and when are they due.

Homeschool Contact With The IRS

There are several situations when a homeschool organization will be in contact with the IRS:

  1. Your homeschool group opens a checking account and needs a tax identification number.

Usually, the first contact a homeschool organization has with the IRS is getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Most banks now request an EIN when a group opens a checking account. An EIN is similar to a Social Security Number for a business or nonprofit organization. They are available from the IRS at no charge at www.IRS.gov. Search for Form SS-4, the application for an EIN.

  1. Your homeschool group pays a worker.

Your worker may be an independent contractor or an employee. Either way, there are forms to file with the IRS at the end of the calendar year (typically a 1099MISC or W-2, respectively). Additionally, there are employer taxes, such as Social Security or Medicare taxes, to pay in addition to employee wages. My books Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization and Money Management in a Homeschool Organization will walk you through the details of hiring and paying workers.

  1. Your group makes money from fund raisers, selling T-shirts and other merchandise, or selling advertising on your website.

Homeschool groups often make money from activities not related to homeschooling. The IRS calls income from these activities “unrelated business income (UBI)” and will tax the profit from these activities. Usually homeschool groups avoid the UBI tax by using one of the IRS exemptions which include using all volunteer labor, selling donated merchandise or having unrelated business income of less than $1,000 annually.

  1. Your homeschool co-op brings in income of more than $5,000 in a year.

If your homeschool co-op (or any homeschool nonprofit group whose main purpose is education, not fellowship) has gross revenues are more than $5,000 a year, your organization should file an application (Form 1023 or the new, shorter Form 1023-EZ) with the IRS for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Approval of tax exempt status by the IRS means that your co-op will not pay income tax on its financial surplus. Your organization is also eligible to receive tax deductible donations and may participate in fundraisers only open to 501(c)(3) organizations, such as Box Tops for Education.

If your organization's gross revenues are under $5,000 a year, you are granted an exception from filing the application paperwork for 501(c)(3) status. You can “self-declare” your tax exempt status without applying. But you will still have annual reporting requirements, the Form 990N (see below).

  1. Your homeschool support group wishes to avoid taxes on their surplus

If your homeschool organization is a support group, then you may be eligible for tax exempt status as a 501(c)(7) social club with the IRS. Social clubs can “self-declare” tax exempt status but some file an application (Form 1024) with the IRS. Read more about eligibility for 501(c)(7) social club status at HomeschoolCPA.com/SocialClub. Even if you self-declare tax exempt status for your support group, the IRS still requires an annual report (see below).

New IRS Filing Requirement for All Nonprofit Organizations

As of 2006, the IRS requires all nonprofit organizations (except churches) to begin filing an annual information return called a Form 990/990EZ or 990N, even if they have not yet applied for tax exempt status or are eligible to self-declare tax exempt status. The short, online Form 990N is for nonprofit organizations with annual gross revenues under $50,000. It is a very simple online form with only six questions. No financial information is given.

  1. Calendar year or tax year dates B. Check if gross revenue is $50,000 or less C. Name and address of the organization D. Employer Identification Number (EIN) E. Website F. One officer's name and address

The Form 990N is filed online at Epostcard.form990.org and is due due 4 1/2 months after the end of your fiscal year (May 15 for groups that run on a calendar year).

Your organization may have difficulty in filing the Form 990N if you have not applied for tax exempt status, because your group is not in their database of exempt organizations. You will have to call the IRS Exempt Organizations Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500 and ask  to be added to their exempt organizations database so you can begin filing the Form 990Ns. It typically takes 6 weeks to be added to the IRS database.

What Happens if Your Organization Doesn't File the Form 990N

There is no financial penalty for late filing, but failure to file the Form 990N for three consecutive years means automatic revocation of tax exempt status. If you have not filed a Form 990N in the past three years, it is likely that your organization's tax exempt status was automatically revoked—even without your knowledge! Lately, I have helped several homeschool organizations that did not file their 990Ns for several years (most did not know about the requirement) and had their tax exempt status automatically revoked. We have been successful in getting their tax exempt status reinstated. It takes filing paperwork, paying an IRS filing fee (usually $400) and patience! If you follow the IRS procedures they will not charge your organization back taxes or penalties.

If all this seems confusing or overwhelming, please visit HomeschoolCPA.com. On the blog page,  type “990N” into the search box and read the blog posts about this IRS filing requirement. Additionally, my book The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization can give you details on applying for tax exempt status or getting your tax exempt status reinstated if it has been automatically revoked..

 

Carol Topp, CPA is an author, accountant and retired homeschool mom. She is the author of Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out, The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization and Money Management in a Homeschool Organization: A Guide for Treasurers. She shares her experience as a CPA, homeschool mom and co-op treasurer in her books, at homeschool conventions and on her podcast DollarsAndSenseShow.com. Carol offers consulting services to homeschool leaders. Contact her on her website HomeschooCPA.com.