Tax deductible cookies?
Dan Jett (DanJett@AOL.COM)
Sat, 1 Feb 1997 11:49:12 -0500
Wendy Meador asked how much of the price of a box of GS cookies is deductible
and wonders how to substantiate that deduction.
In general if you receive something of value in exchange for your
contribution your tax deduction is limited to the excess of what you paid
over the fair market value of the item received. In other words if you could
have bought an equivalent box of Thin Mints in the supermarket for $2 but you
paid $3 to your neighborhood Girl Scout, your deduction is $1. The
percentage that GSUSA receives for its programs is irrelevent, unless you can
somehow use that information to help establish how much a commercial box of
The burden is on the taxpayer to show that a premium was paid over the fair
market value for the mechandise, but how you do that is unclear. The tax
regulations encourage charitable organizations to provide the suggested
donation value of their merchandise to purchasers (IRS does not have to
accept unrealistic amounts). To my knowledge GSUSA doesn't provide such a
valuation. This may be because the GS selling price can vary from region to
region or because GS cookies may actually be competitively priced with
commercial cookies and yield no tax deduction at all.
As to substantiation, your cancelled check will verify the fact, but not the
amount, of the contribution. For cash payments you could try saving the box
as Sally Garmaat suggests, although a "box top" would probably do the trick
and I would have accepted that when I was an IRS tax auditor long ago.
My daughter has sold me dozens of boxes of GS cookies over the years and I
have never claimed a tax deduction - but that's not to say some reasonable
amount would be disallowed by IRS. In our case the cookie deduction would be
insignificant in comparison to the out-of-pocket expenses my wife and I incur
annually with scout volunteer activities.
Leaders: Its tax time again - Gather up all those receipts for fees,
training, uniforms, materials, supplies, snacks, postage and toll calls and
don't forget to calculate all your volunteer auto mileage for deduction at 12
cents per mile.
Webelos Den Leader (moonlighting as a tax lawyer)
Pack 6, Pacific Skyline Council, Palo Alto, CA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City