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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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Alisha Harrison, a family child care provider, had a few minutes to review her records before the children started to arrive on Monday morning. She glanced at her contract. "Let's see," she thought to herself as she checked off each item, "two weeks paid vacation, 5 paid holidays, two weeks... Continue reading
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It can happen at any time: • A child breaks one of your toys • A child breaks a personal items of yours (chair, eyeglasses) • A parent tips over and damages a lamp • A child loses her hearing aid Accidents happen, but sometimes the damage is more than... Continue reading
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If you have completed your 2013 taxes, congratulations! Here's a checklist of final steps you should take as a family child care provider before you can forget about last year's taxes: 1) Gather all your business records that you used for your 2013 tax return and put them with a... Continue reading
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"I was so relieved, I broke down in tears," said Maryland family child care provider Cathy Ross when she heard the news that the IRS Tax Court had accepted her 98% Time-Space Percentage. "This has been such a weight on me. I still tremble when I realize that this is... Continue reading
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When I helped Cathy Ross win a 98% Time-Space Percentage at her IRS audit in U.S. Tax Court, I asked her if she had any recommendations for other family child care providers facing an IRS audit. Here's what she wrote to me: "I have learned so much through this process.... Continue reading
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Caring for children in your home can be a risky business. You know how easy it is for a child to be injured - * A child can slip and fall and break an arm * A child can be hit in the face by another child * A child... Continue reading
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Imagine this scenario: The IRS is auditing you and wants copies of your bank statements for May 2011. The auditor asks, "Where did the $300 deposit you made on May 3rd come from?" Will you know the answer this question? If not, the auditor could conclude that this was unreported... Continue reading
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It's almost April 15th and you haven't filed your family child care tax return yet. Don't panic. If you need more time you can file for a six month extension. Sometimes child care providers need more time to calculate their depreciation deductions, sort out their records, or deal with a... Continue reading
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Can you refuse to provide care to a child who has epilepsy because you are afraid that you won't know what to do if the child has a seizure? Should you incorporate your business to reduce the risks of a lawsuit by a parent? Can you refuse to let the... Continue reading
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Pick up times for children can be a source of conflict between parents and family child care providers. Sometimes parents want flexibility about pick-up times: “I want to pick up my child between 5 and 5:30pm.” “I want to drop off and pick up my child anytime during the hours... Continue reading
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April 15th is the deadline for family child care providers to file your federal estimated tax payment for the first quarter of 2014. This comes as a shock to some child care providers because it's the same deadline for paying your 2013 taxes. Most child care providers do not need... Continue reading
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April 15th is the deadline for filing your estimated taxes for the first quarter of 2014. But, how can you estimate what you will owe in taxes if this is your first year in business? Most married family child care providers don't pay quarterly estimated federal taxes because their spouse... Continue reading
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Sometimes family child care providers get stuck when trying to resolve a conflict with a parent. There is a tool you can use to resolve almost any conflict - The Three Choices of Life. When you have a conflict with a parent, there are only three ways to resolve it.... Continue reading
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In an IRS audit of a family child care provider, the first thing the auditor will do is to find out if you accurately reported all of your business income. You must report as income any money received from parents (including copayments, registration fees, late fees, gift cards, etc.), subsidy... Continue reading
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How do you know if your family child care program is a successful experience for the children in your care? More importantly, how does a parent looking for child care know that their child will succeed if they enroll in your child care program? The simple answer is that the... Continue reading
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Under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), individuals have until March 31st to purchase a health insurance policy that will cover them for 2014. After this open enrollment period ends, you will have to wait until 2015 to get insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. After March 31, 2014 you won't... Continue reading
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My Family Child Care Contracts & Policies book has been translated into Spanish and is now available through Redleaf Press. Cuidado Infantile Familiar Contractos y Politicas is available only as a downloadable pdf file. The cost is $19.95, the same as the hard copy English version (3rd edition). This business... Continue reading
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Family child care providers are always looking for ways to make the burden of record keeping easier. The app BizXpenseTracker is one inexpensive tool that can help. Here's how it works: When you are buying an item for your business, you can enter onto your iPhone or iPad the name... Continue reading
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Parents who enroll in your family child care program have a high expectation of privacy. They don't want any information shared about their family unless the law requires you to share information, or unless they have given you permission. Many child care providers have created their own privacy policy to... Continue reading
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One of the biggest tax breaks available to family child care providers is the Individual Retirement Account (IRA). When you put money into an IRA for 2013 it will reduce your 2013 taxable income. You won't have to pay tax on it (along with the interest you earned) until you... Continue reading
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Even though you are not required to give parents a receipt for their child care payments, it's a good business practice to do so. See my article, "The Truth About Giving Parents a Receipt." What should you do, however, when a person who hasn't paid you wants a receipt? This... Continue reading
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The short answer is that a family child care provider who is married is almost always better of filing as "married filing jointly." When you are married you do have the choice of filing jointly or separately. When You File Jointly If you file jointly you will complete your business... Continue reading
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For many family child care providers the biggest problems they face are not how to care for children, but rather how to deal with their parents. My March 18th webinar on "How to Make Your Contracts and Policies Work for You" will help you learn how to establish an effective... Continue reading
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Sometimes family child care providers know more than their tax preparers. This was obvious when two family child care providers recently contacted me about how their tax professional had calculated their Time-Space percentage. Both child care providers had an exclusive use room in their home. Both providers knew how their... Continue reading