Can my family’s homeschool be a nonprofit?

Homeschool CPA was recently asked,

I see several articles (on your website www.HomeschoolCPA.com) on setting up as a not-for-profit for homeschool organizations (e.g. homeschool co-ops), but I wonder if I could set my own family’s homeschool up as a non-profit. We’re in Texas, so we are considered a private school.
-Lauren in TX

Lauren,
You asked a good question and I’ve been asked it before in different ways.
Nonprofit organizations have a lot of benefits including tax free income, discounts, and sometimes pay no sales tax!

I’m not a lawyer, nor familiar with Texas private school laws, but I’ll try to explain how I see things.

Briefly, a nonprofit organization exists to serve a group, not an individual. The IRS will not grant “recognized charity”, 501c3 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 501c3 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 profit from the organization. 501c3 organizations can lose their tax exempt status for practicing inurement.

Inurement/Private Benefit – Charitable Organizations

A section 501(c)(3) organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator’s family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a section 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization.
>From the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=123297,00.html

So, in short the answer is “No”, even if your state classifies a homeschool as a private school. That’s how I see it.

Carol

Now, here are my “lawyer words…”
Any tax advice contained in this communication was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions.

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