Will getting an EIN put us on the IRS’s radar?

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. One group in Virginia is doing things right by getting a checking account for their homeschool co-op instead of using a personal account, but they wonder if this will mean more contact with the IRS.

Hi Carol,

I am new to an existing homeschool co-op in VA. Tomorrow morning we are meeting to discuss our options as it relates to becoming a more formal organization. I want to be able to advise them as to their options on this.

This co-op is more then 12-15 years old, we do not accept donations or need to, so far we have been handling the money through someone’s personal bank account, we receive fees from students and then pay teachers and reimburse them for materials, generally we break even each year (or can if we need to), there are regular Board meetings, I do not know if they have bylaws or take minutes but I do know they have a mission statement. The bottom line is that we want to be able to have a business checking account.

Can we get an EIN in order to open a checking account in our co-op name without incorporating and without having a state or federal annual filing requirement? I seem to remember that once you get an EIN (that I think is required for a business bank account), you are on the radar screen with the IRS and will need to file some sort of return.

Thanks so much

Nancy in VA

Nancy,

Yes, you can get an EIN for banking purposes, but not have any other dealings with your state or the IRS. Our homeschool co-op did it. We had an EIN and operated for 5 years with no contact from the state or IRS. We just recently decided to become a nonprofit corporation in our state. This chart might be helpful for your board Common Nonprofit Types
You will deal with the IRS if you become a 501c3 tax exempt organization or pay workers.

BTW, I will caution you that if you are paying teachers, then you do have some reporting to the IRS and your state government. You will have to pay payroll tax (Social Security and Medicare) and file a W-2 if they are employees or file a 1099MISC if they are independent contractors. You should read this blog entry: Paying co-op teachers is a sticky issue

Best of success to you!

Carol Topp, CPA

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