HomeschoolCPA has been asked this question twice lately,
What a good question. In general I say, Yes, you can participate in a fund raiser if the fund raising organization allows it. BUT, the profit you make is taxable income and you’ll need to report it on your tax return.
Another homeschooling mom e-mailed me with a similar question:
With 6 children needing school curriculum, we are coming up short in finances. We contacted a calendar company that said it would be permissible for us to sell calendars as a fund raiser for our homeschool. We accepted personal checks made out to our homeschool name (that we registered with the state school board, considered a non-profit private school). We do not have a checking account with our homeschool name on it. Therefore, we have no way to deposit them.What is your advice to us? The checks amounted to $90. Is this method acceptable to continue as long as we pay taxes on it? Mrs. W.
Here’s what I told Mrs. W to do:
By selling calendars you actually were actually operating a small for-profit business. You are free to use the profit of the small business for anything you wish, in your case homeschool books and supplies. Since you didn’t mention what state you are in I cannot tell if your state requires business registration. Many do not require any type of registration if your are a sole proprietor using your own name. You may have to file a name registration with your Secretary of State to establish your business name.
To deposit these checks you’ll need to open a checking account in the homeschool’s name. You’ll have to get an EIN number from the IRS at www.irs.gov (See the Q&A on my website for details www.HomeschoolCPA.com). You can then spend the money in the checking account on homeschool supplies and close it or keep a small amount in it until next year.
You should report the $90 as income on your tax return as either Other Income on line 21 of the 1040 or on Schedule C Business Income if you have expenses from the sale of the calendars (postage, mileage, etc…)
Quite a mess for a $90 fund raiser, huh? Before you try a fund raiser for you individual family homeschool make sure its worth the effort of getting a business name, EIN, and checking account. Maybe try having a garage sale or sell something to bring in income instead!
Carol Topp, CPA