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How To Homeschool

Uncle CHiN

Dear Uncle CHiN,

Canít we deduct the expenses of homeschooling from our income taxes somehow?

Signed, Wrung-out Taxpayer

Dear Wrung-out,

At one time or another, every independent homeschooling family entertains the thought that since they are doing the work of the public schools (better and more efficiently, I might add) then shouldnít the government cut them a little slack? Iím afraid thereís not much hope of it, and trying could be dangerous. Hereís the way it works:

  1. You could try to run your homeschool as a for-profit business and file a Schedule C annually detailing your income and expenses. The IRS expects to see signs of profitability after a few years, or it begins to suspect that the business is just a tax-dodge. Since you would be your only tuition-paying customer, it should be soon apparent to the IRS that your business is not a "for-profit" at all. Boys and girls, can you say "audit"?

    Now, if you accept other peopleís children and receive tuition payments from them, you have essentially reinvented the commercial private school, and yes, certainly you are entitled to deduct legitimate business expenses. But then you may need to obtain a business license, obtain suitable insurance, and so forth. Complicated, and probably not worth the effort. Homeschooling other peopleís kids isnít all that easy, to boot.
  2. Or you could try to get your homeschool accepted by the IRS as a tax-exempt organization. The odds of this happening are microscopic since IRS carefully guards against anyone using tax-exempt status for personal or family gain. Boys and girls, can you say "tax fraud"? ( Gee, imagine being able to convert our families into our favorite charities: what cheerful givers we would all be!)

So there you have it You could say that Uncle Sam and his state and local pals havenít developed a proper sense of appreciation for homeschoolers yet. Maybe thatís just as well, since any time the government allows or gives something, it tells you what you have to do to keep the privilege. In this case the privilege would be keeping a little bit of our own money to raise our own children, but by some perversion, we have become the people of the government, by the government, for the government. My, my, I seem to have launched on a tirade here. Whatever has come over me? I guess Iím just a wrung-out taxpayer myself.

Fondly, Your dear old Uncle CHiN

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