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How many of you charge book fees and deduct every month and report to your parents at year end?

I am currently asking parents to buy books themselves, providing name of the book, publisher and editor's name.

However, I still encounter problems such as
--parents is delaying in buying books that cause we do not have a book to use
--parents is so confusing about which book to buy and often buying the wrong book (even with the information that I gave them)
--parents has to go to two different websites to complete the book buying process because some books is rare to find

I am thinking to charge $100 per student per year and I will set this money aside and keep detail bookkeeping about it. For example: I charge Adam $100 at the beginning of the year and every time I bought a book for him, I deduct the amount from $100. At the end of the year, I provide Adam's mom a book keeping account so that she knows how I spent those money in books and which books I had buy for Adam. I am thinking to roll over the unused amount to next year and have them pay another $x to round up to $100 again.

How many of you are doing this? Is it easy? Is it too much work? How much worth of stocks you have in books? Do you have any suggestions about how to make this easier? Do you like this method or you like to let parents doing the book buying themselves?

Thanks
Most parents would find $100 far too high as an annual materials fee, and so would I. A more reasonable amount might be $30-$40, and some years a student would not even spend that much.

I procure teaching materials myself for many of my students, and simply tack the cost onto the next quarterly bill. Some of my adult students like to shop for their own materials, which is fine with me if they are choosing their own repertoire, but I provide it to everybody else when I am choosing what they play - precisely to avoid the issues you are experiencing.

At any given time I probably have a few hundred dollars worth of materials waiting to be disseminated and resold. I buy stuff often, and figure that sooner or later some student will need it.

There's no right answer to your problem, but I think requiring $100 upfront as a yearly deposit is going to annoy parents more than it pleases you.
I agree - $100 is way too much.

Where necessary, I just buy the books and invoice the parents.
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Most parents would find $100 far too high as an annual materials fee, and so would I. A more reasonable amount might be $30-$40, and some years a student would not even spend that much.

I procure teaching materials myself for many of my students, and simply tack the cost onto the next quarterly bill. Some of my adult students like to shop for their own materials, which is fine with me if they are choosing their own repertoire, but I provide it to everybody else when I am choosing what they play - precisely to avoid the issues you are experiencing.

At any given time I probably have a few hundred dollars worth of materials waiting to be disseminated and resold. I buy stuff often, and figure that sooner or later some student will need it.

There's no right answer to your problem, but I think requiring $100 upfront as a yearly deposit is going to annoy parents more than it pleases you.


This is how I do it too. I'll buy the books in anticipation of a student who is about to finish their current book and bill them. However, they get an invoice right away. I'll let the parents know ahead of time that the student will be getting new books next week and what the approximate amount is. Usually they bring their checkbook and pay it, but if not, I get it the following week.

I think charging them $100 upfront might be difficult for some families to come up with, and you may find some parents objecting to it.
ezpiano,

I buy books for the kids as a service to parents. I let parents know at lesson how much money to pay for new books. New books are given to each kid after the parent has paid for them.

But I can see how invoicing would be more professional. If I were to come up with a book fee, I think $60 would cover most kids needs.
For most of my families, picking up music is pretty much a nuisance, so I do it for them. They get billed what it costs me, so it's not a money maker for me. Actually, the music store gives me a small discount and I charge families cover price. This offsets some of the expense of driving to and from the music store. Not much, but every little bit helps.
Just curious, how many / what kinds of books would you get for that sort of fee? Sheet music is much more expensive here.
Originally Posted by Theme&Variations
Just curious, how many / what kinds of books would you get for that sort of fee? Sheet music is much more expensive here.


We can get a set of method books (4 books) for about $30. A few kids could go through 2 sets in a year if they are working consistently. More likely they'd get one set of method books, and some additional books priced $5-$15 each.
Since the late 70's, when I first started teaching, I did exactly as the OP is suggesting: collect a music/materials fee at the beginning of the school year and purchase supplies as needed throughout the year. I kept a log of each students' purchases and then would refund any unused money at the end of the school year, with a complete itemized list.

However, in the last 15 years or so I've changed the way I collect fees for books and supplies. I decided that the fee would not only cover actual books/sheet music that students use but other studio expenses that normally might be covered by their tuition payment: office/printing supplies, staff board, markers, pencils, stickers & incentives, 'treasure box' treats, carpets cleaned once a year, computer games/software, rhythm instruments, new bins/bookcases for supplies, etc...

I call my music book fee an 'annual enrollment fee' that parents pay in May for their child to continue lessons for the new school year in September. I charge $100 for new students, $75 for returning students. While the cost of music for kids in method books is going to be different from students doing classical repertoire and anthologies, the fee is sufficient for all students. I no longer send out a detailed list at the end of the year of all itemized expenses. Parents don't want a list; they just know that their fee pays for all supplies/books used during the school year and that the only other thing they'll be responsible for is tuition and any festival fees.

This system is SO much easier than what I was doing in the past (although the previous system was better than letting parents get their own books).
I just include it in my monthly tuition fee. In my policy, it states that tuition includes basic learning materials (method books, theory books, etc.). From my experiences with my office job, the simpler you can make it for the client the smoother things will run (and they happier everyone will be). Now if only management can catch on to that concept :P
Originally Posted by kissyana
I just include it in my monthly tuition fee. In my policy, it states that tuition includes basic learning materials (method books, theory books, etc.). From my experiences with my office job, the simpler you can make it for the client the smoother things will run (and they happier everyone will be).


This is the most intriguing of all our responses so far, I'd say. Or generous. Do I understand you correctly that you simply throw in all piano books for free, if someone studies with you? Wow.
Originally Posted by dumdumdiddle


I call my music book fee an 'annual enrollment fee' that parents pay in May for their child to continue lessons for the new school year in September. I charge $100 for new students, $75 for returning students. While the cost of music for kids in method books is going to be different from students doing classical repertoire and anthologies, the fee is sufficient for all students.


How much of this $100 or $75 fee might go to music books you issue per student? What about the adult who comes to you ready to play Beethoven sonatas, and the complete set of 32 sonatas might cost $100?

Many teachers are charging such an enrollment fee, though without your generosity of disseminating books as part of the fee. For them it's just a carpet-cleaning and piano-tuning fee.
I think what I want to find out is which way is easier?

Method 1: Collect the fee ($50 or $100) up front then complete with an itemize list at the school year end, or

Method 2: Buy books and invoice them from time to time.

Any comments?
Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
I think what I want to find out is which way is easier?

Method 1: Collect the fee ($50 or $100) up front then complete with an itemize list at the school year end, or

Method 2: Buy books and invoice them from time to time.

Any comments?

Method 2.

You never know how fast or slowly the student progresses. The really talented students will go through a lot more books within a year than $100 will cover. The slow ones will still be on Piano Adventures Book 1 after two years! The "materials fee" method will get you a lot of complaints from parents.
Okay, if method 2 is better, how much worth of stocks I should keep in my studio? How much space I would needed? Will this process complicated my tax filing?
I just include core materials in the fee (lesson/theory/sight reading books). If they want Soundtrack To Latest Hit Movie books or Current Number 1 Hit, I will be happy to point them towards the local music store or websites where they can find these items. Often, they just pick these up themselves and show them to me at lessons for help/questions.

I'm still a bit of a youngin' so I'm sure I'll be making adjustments to my policy as I go.
Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
Okay, if method 2 is better, how much worth of stocks I should keep in my studio? How much space I would needed? Will this process complicated my tax filing?


I purchase them right before they need them, instead of having copies ready (except for various materials I purchase for myself to look through, decide I like, and then sell to students who I feel would like or need them).

I do it as an addition to the next month's invoice, or the month after that, if it is too close and I know the parents didn't have enough notice. They usually do however.

I don't think it will complicate your tax season. Purchase the books with your discount, and then charge them the full rate to offset any other costs associated with it (driving to the store, time spent doing so, etc). Don't even consider it in terms of taxes, I think, because it really has nothing to do with it.
Actually, if you collect money from parents for books, some states will expect you to collect sales tax and pay it to the state. They view you as a vendor, so it COULD have a tax impact.
Originally Posted by Minniemay
Actually, if you collect money from parents for books, some states will expect you to collect sales tax and pay it to the state. They view you as a vendor, so it COULD have a tax impact.
So they expect double the sales tax, once from the store and also from you?

Isn't it just you getting their books for them, not vending them? I have never heard of this, which is why I'm asking.
Originally Posted by Para Otras
Originally Posted by Minniemay
Actually, if you collect money from parents for books, some states will expect you to collect sales tax and pay it to the state. They view you as a vendor, so it COULD have a tax impact.
So they expect double the sales tax, once from the store and also from you?

Isn't it just you getting their books for them, not vending them? I have never heard of this, which is why I'm asking.

You're not in the business of selling music, you're just doing your students a favor. If states actually get so desperate that they want teachers to collect sales tax on the few books we pick up for students through the year, we'd do just like anyone else, and that is, either under the table or not at all. Somewhere I read that when taxes/govt regulations get too abusive, people simply cease and desist. Isn't this what happens in many countries, such as Italy, where taxes are so high that no one pays them, or only makes token payments?
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted by Para Otras
Originally Posted by Minniemay
Actually, if you collect money from parents for books, some states will expect you to collect sales tax and pay it to the state. They view you as a vendor, so it COULD have a tax impact.
So they expect double the sales tax, once from the store and also from you?

Isn't it just you getting their books for them, not vending them? I have never heard of this, which is why I'm asking.

You're not in the business of selling music, you're just doing your students a favor. If states actually get so desperate that they want teachers to collect sales tax on the few books we pick up for students through the year, we'd do just like anyone else, and that is, either under the table or not at all. Somewhere I read that when taxes/govt regulations get too abusive, people simply cease and desist. Isn't this what happens in many countries, such as Italy, where taxes are so high that no one pays them, or only makes token payments?
That's what I thought too. I'm not selling the books. I'm purchasing the books for the students and then being paid back.
If you get audited, there could indeed be some questioning of your purchasing music at a discount and selling it at face value, if you confess to it. That price differential is taxable income. And if you were to take a deduction for your music purchases, then you surely should bother to declare the income when you resell them.

So yes, there could be some tax consequences if you want to be a boy scout or girl scout about this, never mind sales tax. In practical terms, though, I don't think it's worth bothering about. Or you can always just ask mom or dad to pay you cash for the books that you went to the trouble to obtain for them.

Piano teaching is both penny ante and a business....
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
If you get audited, there could indeed be some questioning of your purchasing music at a discount and selling it at face value, if you confess to it. That price differential is taxable income. And if you were to take a deduction for your music purchases, then you surely should bother to declare the income when you resell them.

So yes, there could be some tax consequences if you want to be a boy scout or girl scout about this, never mind sales tax. In practical terms, though, I don't think it's worth bothering about. Or you can always just ask mom or dad to pay you cash for the books that you went to the trouble to obtain for them.

Piano teaching is both penny ante and a business....

Peter, you're so right. I forgot to mention that although the store gives me a small discount, we have a 9.5% sales tax, so I actually end up losing a bit of money every time I purchase books for students. Not enough to quibble about, and certainly not enough to go through all that painful book keeping crap.
This has been on my mind a lot. I actually thought about raising my registration fee this year to include books, but I ended up not doing it. It would certainly be easy and then I would have to worry about the tax consequences of "selling" the books.
John, we're quite united on this one. You and I figure we're providing a little additional service to families by procuring music books for them essentially at cost. It's not worth our bothering about taxwise.

But the more I ponder ez's good questions, the more complex they become. I think she should ask an accountant or tax preparer for some advice before she makes changes to her billing practices. Stanny has put a finger on the dilemma.




I buy the books as a favor to my students, and they reimburse me. I pay taxes on them when I purchase them, so the state is getting their cut. I am not making any profit to be taxed on.

Since I am at the music store often, it is no big deal for me to pick up the books. I don't keep much of an inventory.
Hi ezpiano~

I had some of the same problems as you before last year. The main thing is that parents can take FOREVER to get the books!

I do similar to what you are considering. I charge an $80 Registration & Materials Fee. This covers all student books for a year, plus helps cover other costs like handouts, prizes, recital fees, etc. I just deduct from it all year and never have to worry about extra billing or waiting on parents. This has worked really well for me, but yes, it does require extra bookkeeping. I keep track of all books bought for students and the cost so I know where I'm at with their fee.

It's also nice, because if a student drops out before the end of the year (happens a lot; people just don't stick with one activity anymore), I'm left with the rest to use for advertising for new students or improving the studio, etc.

I don't keep any books "in stock". I order from Prima Music (www.primamusic.com) and have them ship to my house. I end up waiting between 1 - 2 weeks, but it's still sooner than the parents getting the books and I don't have to spend 10 mins per family telling them what books to get and what they look like, etc. Prima Music is great for the reason that they give substantial discounts. The more you buy the more discount they will give. And shipping is free on every order that is at least $30 (but is the slowest shipping option). It works really well for my studio!

P.S. If you just include the Registration Fee as part of your income, then it should be fine. Then whenever you buy books that is considered an expense. Shouldn't have a problem with that. Visit Piano Adventures Forum for other advice on this same issue.. it helped me.
My teacher does it the way Peter K Mose does. She keeps a variety of method, repertoire and theory books on hand and distributes them as needed, putting the cost (with tax) on the next month's bill. If she doesn't have something on hand, she will have it for the next week's lesson. She has been teaching for over 40 years and has a finely tuned business. She's 80 yo and amazing, both in her stamina and organizational skills, as well as her playing. I fantasize about still taking lessons when I'm 80 and she's 100!
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted by dumdumdiddle


I call my music book fee an 'annual enrollment fee' that parents pay in May for their child to continue lessons for the new school year in September. I charge $100 for new students, $75 for returning students. While the cost of music for kids in method books is going to be different from students doing classical repertoire and anthologies, the fee is sufficient for all students.


How much of this $100 or $75 fee might go to music books you issue per student? What about the adult who comes to you ready to play Beethoven sonatas, and the complete set of 32 sonatas might cost $100?

Many teachers are charging such an enrollment fee, though without your generosity of disseminating books as part of the fee. For them it's just a carpet-cleaning and piano-tuning fee.


Most of the fee goes towards books. Beginner students may only use $45 of the fee for actual books whereas my early intermediate students might use closer to $55 or $60. Since I don't teach any students at an advanced level (such as the example you mentioned about the Beethoven sonatas) this fee structure works great for me. I plan my students' year out in advance, figuring as best I can what music books they'll need for the coming year. I buy most of my music at music teachers conventions, where discounts can be up to 40% off; the rest of my music at www.primamusic.com , where I get 25% plus free shipping, no sales tax. I really stretch the funds and so far it's the best system I've found.
I just have the parents prepay for the materials before I order them. The only time I ask parents to hunt down the music is when it's out of print.
I just have the parents prepay for the materials before I order them. The only time I ask parents to hunt down the music is when it's out of print.
Originally Posted by FormerlyFlute
If she doesn't have something on hand, she will have it for the next week's lesson. She has been teaching for over 40 years and has a finely tuned business. She's 80 yo and amazing, both in her stamina and organizational skills, as well as her playing. I fantasize about still taking lessons when I'm 80 and she's 100!


Clearly she's a gem of a teacher, and sounds like a person without age. Those are our role models.
Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
I think what I want to find out is which way is easier?

Method 1: Collect the fee ($50 or $100) up front then complete with an itemize list at the school year end, or

Method 2: Buy books and invoice them from time to time.

Any comments?


EZ, my view is that these two ways are about equal in terms of your work. In either case, you will have to keep a record of which books you disseminate to which student, and at what cost.

In another post, you asked about how much physical space in your studio would be required if you stock up a bunch of music materials. Not very much: at most a small bookcase worth of space. Or it could be just a stack or two of piano books sitting in a closet.

Try to imagine 2, 3, or 4 piano books, multiplied by the number of students in your studio. That's probably not a lot of space. You're not going to be running a music store.

However, if can afford it, it's fun to keep buying piano teaching materials you may or may not ever need. They'll just sit around in piles, year after year, and outgrow whatever space you have. And you'll forget you own them. And then you'll start to buy the same books twice when you get a new pupil, instead of disseminating what you already own. And pretty soon you *should* be running a small music store. Or worrying that you have become one of those hoarders we see on reality tv. Trust me on this one....
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