Girl Scout Cookies Are Tax Deductible. Sort Of.

If you’re planning on buying lots of Thin Mints this year (and if you’re not, there’s something deeply wrong with you) you’re probably wondering if the cookies are tax deductible.

After all, the Girl Scouts of America is a charitable organization.

Tax Cat Sez: They are… but only if you don’t take the cookies.

From the Girl Scouts website:

Q: Is the purchase of Girl Scout Cookies tax-deductible?

A: No and Yes.

* No, if the customer keeps the cookies. Individuals who buy Girl Scout Cookies and take the cookies home, or consume them, have purchased a product at a fair market value. For this reason, no part of the price of a box of Girl Scout Cookies used in this way is tax-deductible.


* Yes,
if the customer leaves the cookies with Girl Scouts. Many Girl Scouts ask customers to pay for one or more boxes of cookies for use in their community service project, for example, collecting for a food pantry. The customers not receiving any Girl Scout Cookies do not benefit directly from paying for them. Those individuals may treat the purchase price of the donated cookies as a charitable contribution.

So, for example, if you wanted to buy some Girl Scout cookies for members of our armed forces overseas, you could claim those cookies as a charitable donation.

Frequently Asked Questions [Girl Scouts via Don't Mess With Taxes]
(Photo:chadwbecks)

Comments

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  1. Celticlady says:

    yeah, my daughter’s troop does this. We take donations from people to buy cookies to send to troops serving overseas.

    So, if you are on a diet, consider asking your local Girl Scout about this.

  2. MickeyMoo says:

    But is it really “fair market value”? One presumes that the GSA don’t do the drive every year just to break even – some portion of the sale price must be profit, and should be tax deductible.

  3. shoegazer says:

    Wans dis post in kitteh plz.

  4. Nissan288 says:

    What’s the point of buying them if I can’t eat them? The idea of buying them for myself and donating them to others are two different concepts in my head. This doesn’t help you on your diet, it just means you’re donating money in the form of cookies to others.

  5. MameDennis says:

    @MickeyMoo:
    My understanding is that, for IRS purposes, fair market value is what you could reasonably expect to pay at the retail level, rather than what the organization pays.

    • Dacker says:

      @MameDennis:

      In that case, Thin Mints are almost identical to Keebler Grasshoppers, which Cost <$3 if you pay full MSRP and about $2 on sale.

      It seems to me I should be able to deduct the difference between what the Girl Scouts charge ($4.50 in my area) and what Grasshoppers cost in your local megamart.

      BTW, the final price is set by your local GS Council. They can charge anywhere from $3.50 to $4.50 per box, usually in $0.25 increments.

  6. shan6 says:

    @shoegazer: What?

  7. shan6 says:

    @shan6: When I was in Iraq, I got a box of these donated Girl Scout cookies, they really brightened things up for me. I love me some Thin Mints.

  8. Chryss says:

    If Thin Mints weren’t delicious, I’d totally just donate. However…NOM NOM NOM NOM…

  9. MDSasquatch says:

    If more money went to the scouts that sell them, I might consider buying them. I consider their efforts valiant on the surface, but child labor that enriches the WRONG people in reality.

    If you really want to help the troops, seek out their leader and make a cash donation; the cookies are nasty anyways.

  10. boreddusty says:

    @MDSasquatch: You take that back! They may be overpriced, but they are definitely not “nasty!”

  11. OnceWasCool says:

    I think GSA is a scam. With the Multi-Million dollar cookie business, where does the money go? BSA doesn’t do and they have twice the activities.

  12. yargrnhoj says:

    BSA sells much-less-tasty and much-more-expensive popcorn to fund their activities. About 30% of the sales goes to the troop with almost 40% going to the local council and BSA national. Same type of thing for girl scouts.

  13. lucabrazi says:

    I just wanna buy the damn things online. It just sounds so seamy to go out looking for girl scouts during cookie season…

  14. greenpepper says:

    Wish they’d sell something healthier. Buying these for ourselves, or troops, is like buying them poison.

    The fats in these cookies contain overwhelming amounts of saturated fat, much more so than typical cookies.

    It would be so simple and a good learning experience for all if they’d offer something healthy.

    I can support the organization, but no through this venue.

  15. K-Bo says:

    @oncewascool: BSA Sells popcorn, which at least around my town sells better, because it’s healthier, and also, I always (even way back when I was a tiny girl scout ) thought that the timing on the girl scout cookies held them back. We always sold them close to the start of a new year when everyone still has delusions of loosing the holiday weight. I would think October/ November would be better, so people could buy them for Christmas. Popcorn is more of a year round sell.

  16. K-Bo says:

    @greenpepper: Trans fats were removed this year, so at least they are trying, but they probably won’t keep well at all now.

  17. NotATool says:

    I am much too addicted to Girl Scout Cookies to ever consider using them as a tax writeoff.

  18. NotATool says:

    @K-Bo: That’s the problem; they removed the trans fats and replaced them with saturated fats. That has been done in a lot of products which have eliminated trans fats. Are the saturated fats healthier for you? Probably not, but at least they’re not trans fats.

  19. Islandkiwi says:

    How would the IRS know is you ate the cookies or not?

  20. Islandkiwi says:

    IF…IF, DAMNIT!!

  21. tormolen says:

    So, basically, the cookies are like any other product bought at retail: it’s tax-deductible if you give it away to charity. Do the Girl Scouts give a receipt?

  22. Sidecutter says:

    @shoegazer: If ur planng on buying lotz of Thin Mints dis year (and if ur not, dere sumting deeply wrong wif u) ur probly wundarng if teh cookies r tax deduktabul.

    After all, teh Girl Scouts of Amurikuh iz a charatubul organizashun.

    Tax Cat Sez: Dey is… but only if u dun take teh cukies.

  23. JMH says:

    No, I have to be honest, I was not wondering that at all.

  24. UpsetPanda says:

    Because I have yet to see a healthy cookie, I’m going to continue snacking on Thin Mints, just only once in a while. And I’ll share.

  25. jeff303 says:

    @NotATool: Umm yes, yes it is. Saturated fat is an ESSENTIAL nutrient that you need some of (granted, less than most people eat). Trans fat is a Frankenstein creation that wreaks havoc on your body and has no redeeming health benefits whatsoever.

  26. zippygaelle says:

    @lucabrazi: In my town, the GS set up outside grocery stores and peddle their yummy cookies there — no need to hunt them down.

  27. Balisong says:

    I don’t know why everyone’s so excited about thin mints. I used to love them, but we got some last year and they tasted like cardboard. Cause of the missing trans fat. Yep.

    Stop messing with my junk food, health nuts!!!

  28. howie_in_az says:

    Communist Thin Mints have nothing on their Tagalong peanut butter cookies. Four delicious boxes are coming to my house courtesy of the fiance.

  29. shoegazer says:

    @Sidecutter: Kthx!

    /kitteh

    @howie_in_az: Lucky man! You should also try Otap, which are crumbly cookies from the South and, I believe, only 120% sugar.

  30. camille_javal says:

    The only thing I saw in this entry was that I can buy Girl Scout cookies and pick them up on West 23rd. Holy lord.

  31. synergy says:

    Since when are Girl Scouts cookies fair market value?? I call it highway robbery. Of course, only if you look at it from a price/value point of view. If I’m going to give to a charity, I’d rather just give them the money or in-like contribution.

  32. chica_girl55 says:

    Just an FYI to those who are wondering where the money goes when you buy girs scout cookies:
    $ .88 Cost of Cookies (goes to the cookie co.)
    $ .45 Troop portion (goes directly to the girl’s troop that sold the cookies to you)
    $ .01 Service Unit Portion for girl program (goes to the local set of troops for things like day camps and other activities – think of it like a school district size group)
    $ .15 Girl Incentives & Cookie Credits (goes to the local council for things like patches and prizes directly related to the cookie sales)
    $ 2.01 Support for program events, training and support of
    volunteers, facilities mainten- ance and camp development (goes to GSUSA and the local Girl Scout Council)
    =$3.50 for each box (at least in my area)

    This may not seem like a lot is going directly to the girls, but it really is. I’ve been a girl scout (girl and volunteer as an adult now) for almost 20 years and we’ve done some pretty incredible things with the money that we earned from selling cookies.

    I’ve been a leader of and been in troops in which we have no dues (mainly because the girls’ families can’t afford any) and we fund our entire year’s activities and trips with the money earned from cookie sales.

    While Girl Scouting is different wherever you go, I have been really fortunate to have the program in my life. I think it’s definitely a worthwhile program and worthy of donations whether it’s with your time or money through cookies or not.

  33. OnceWasCool says:

    GSA did 700 MILLION dollars in 2007 with the cookies.

  34. alice_bunnie says:

    The troop that sells you the cookies get crap from the sale of the cookies. Troops get as little as 42 cents per box and no more than 62 cents per box. The rest goes towards cost and then to the state and national council. What they do with it is make lots of paperwork and headaches. Everything we’ve ever done we paid for out of pocket anyway.

    I’m the troop cookie manager and I hate it. I hate girl scouts, but my daughter loves it. :/

  35. chica_girl55 says:

    mmm… Now I really wish that I still had some leftovers from last year stashed in my freezer…

  36. cde says:

    So, will the irs investigate cookie fraud?

  37. krunk4ever says:

    Wasn’t there a recent entry saying that for donations to be tax deductible, you need have records of it, so make sure your get a receipt or some sort that you donated a box of girl scout cookies to whatever you decide on.

  38. Caroofikus says:

    @Celticlady: I just want to say thank you to everyone who sends the cookies overseas. They were a more than welcome addition to my last deployment.

  39. ionerox says:

    @yargrnhoj: BSA sells christmas wreaths- not edible or yummy.

  40. cj35 says:

    If the breakdown posted by Chica Girl 55 is correct, then everything but the 88 cents that goes to the cookie compnay is deductible. The rest of the money is going to a GSUSA troop/unit/community, etc which is a charitable organization.

    Our area must be slightly different because the troop gets 55 cents per box, with the possibility of 60 cents; older girl troops can get up to 75 cents per box for opting out of the incentives.

    If you can not find out the specific breakdown of where the money goes, just write off the amount the troop gets as profit.

  41. cj35 says:

    I just wanted to add that the only BSA fundraiser which is done across the nation is the popcorn. Packs, troops and crews that sell wreaths, first aid kits, candy, etc do that on their own with the approval of their chartering organization.

    GSUSA usually promotes a magazine and nut sale in addition to the cookies.