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Tom Copeland
St. Paul, Minnesota
Writer, trainer, advocate on the business of family child care
Interests: reading, Mark Twain
Recent Activity
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Family child care providers can deduct expenses associated with their car based on the number of business miles they drive. You can count the miles of a trip as business as long as the “primary purpose” of the trip is for your business. A trip is primarily for business purposes... Continue reading
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Family child care providers often don't think about the potential for claiming tax credits involving their own children. But, you can claim the federal child care tax credit if you send your own child to a summer camp (soccer camp, YWCA camp, etc.), if you meet these tests: Your child... Continue reading
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Family child care providers always say that word of mouth is their best form of advertising. Word of mouth is so critical because personal recommendations carry a lot of weight in the child care field. Prospective clients will listen to the advice of friends and coworkers. Many who are in... Continue reading
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The most important job of a family child care provider is to keep the children in her care safe. State child care licensing rules dictate that providers must follow certain supervision and safety standards, both inside and outside the home. Beyond these rules providers do have leeway in how they... Continue reading
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Here are the 2015-2016 Child and Adult Food Program reimbursement rates for family child care providers. These rates will be in effect from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. I encourage all family child care providers to join the Food Program. You will always be better off financially if... Continue reading
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It's a necessity for most businesses to have a business checkbook where the owner deposits her income and pays business expenses. But family child care is a unique business in that most expenses are both business and personal (toilet paper, cleaning supplies, furniture, appliances, and so on). When you write... Continue reading
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Family child care providers often hold garage and yard sales this time of the year. They sell their old toys, clothing, and a variety of used household items. They do so because they are going out of business or just want to unload some of the stuff they have accumulated... Continue reading
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Most family child care providers understand that they are not saving enough money to meet short-term goals (new car, emergency fund, etc.) or long-term goals (retirement). The reasons for this are varied: don’t have the money to save because of too many bills, a financial crisis (medical bills, credit card... Continue reading
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Here's a short quiz about legal issues: 1) Can a family child care provider refuse to offer care to a family if the child has epilepsy because the provider doesn't believe she is qualified to provide adequate care? a. Yes b. Yes, but only if the provider has a "reasonable... Continue reading
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The only way a self-employed family child care provider can deduct personal medical expenses as a business deduction is to set up a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA). These plans are also known as a medical reimbursement plan or Section 105 Plan. Here's how it works: You hire your spouse or... Continue reading
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It's not unusual for a parent to want to end their contract with a family child care provider. It's not as common for a family child care provider to want to do the same. Are there any rules you must follow if you want to terminate your contract with a... Continue reading
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Family child care providers are generous people. Is there a tax benefit for being generous? More specifically, can you deduct as a business expense money or items you donate to your local hospital, softball team, high school, Salvation Army, church, etc.? It depends. If giving money or items promotes your... Continue reading
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Most family child care providers who hire employees do so primarily because they can expand their program and care for more children. But, there are a number of costs and benefits that should be considered before taking this step. First, let’s look at the benefits: Increased quality of care that... Continue reading
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With the beginning of summer record keeping is probably the last thing on your mind. But, the end of June is a good time for a six-month review of your business records. Maybe you are doing a pretty good job of saving your receipts. But, unless you are paying close... Continue reading
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This Wednesday, June 24th is the deadline to receive a $45 discount to attend the 2015 annual conference of the National Association for Family Child Care to be held July 15-18th in Bloomington, Minnesota. Use discount code "TWC" to receive this discount. Register here. I'll be giving two pre-conference sessions... Continue reading
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According to a recent survey of family child care providers in New York City: * They don't perceive themselves as business owners * Their tax returns are not filed properly, even when they use tax preparers * More than half do not have business liability insurance * Many want to... Continue reading
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Family child care providers face a widespread problem across the country: they care for subsidized parents but don't get fully paid for their work. I hear this everywhere I travel. * Providers enroll families applying for subsidy payments, who are later declared ineligible, and the provider doesn't get paid. *... Continue reading
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For family child care providers, summertime means being frequently outside with children. Here are some possible outdoor business deductions: Children's toys: baseball, basketball, soccer ball, Frisbee, skateboard, tricycles, bicycles, wagon, bike helmet, jump rope, riding toys, roller skates, scooters Children's activities: admission charges for museum/zoo/recreation center/swimming pool, camera/film/development, burn spray... Continue reading
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I got a call this week from a family child care provider who announced to her parents on June 1st that she will be closing down at the end of the day on June 19th. Each parent had paid a two-week "deposit" to initially hold the spot for the child... Continue reading
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Have you ever been asked to give references by parents looking for a family child care provider? It's not that common for parents to ask providers for references before making a decision to enroll their child, but it does happen. What's the purpose of references? Why would a parent ask... Continue reading
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When a prospective client calls your family child care home you want to keep a record of their call so you can follow up later. I suggest you create a form that allows you to gather the parent's contact information and more. Here's a sample Parent Call Tracking Form that... Continue reading
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True or False? 1) If you pay someone less than $600 in a year to help you care for children, this person can be treated as an independent contractor. 2) If you hire your spouse to help you care for children you don't have to withhold Social Security/Medicare taxes. 3)... Continue reading
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Family child care providers spend a lot of time cleaning their home. You clean each morning before the children arrive and clean each evening after the children leave. You probably also clean during some evenings and on most weekends. Keeping careful track of all of these hours will help you... Continue reading
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June 15th is the deadline for family child care providers to file your federal estimated tax payment for the second quarter of 2015. The second quarter includes the months of April and May. (Yes, the tax quarters for estimated taxes are not equal!) The third quarter includes the months of... Continue reading
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Have you found yourself in any of these situations? * You wonder if your contract and policies are legally enforceable * You receive a letter from your child care licensor who wants to take away your license * Your Food Program sponsor threatens to issue you a serious deficiency notice... Continue reading