With plenty of opportunity for strategic thinking and planning, selling Girl Scout Cookies within the local neighborhood is one of the first successful ventures a young girl may have into the world of business.
Unlike other community fundraising events, Girl Scout Cookies are completely beloved, like a warm apple pie, or a hearty deep dish pizza. Between January and April every year, over one million scouts in the U.S. sell approximately 200 million boxes of cookies.
In fact, Girl Scout cookie sales tend to top those of renowned brands like Oreos and Chips Ahoy — which is a frighteningly impressive statistic.
But an ever-rising number of sales brings about a whole new set of questions. Who really benefits from the sale of these cookies? Do the Girl Scouts make charitable donations? Are these cookies tax-deductible?
If you’re in search of answers to these questions, then we’ve got the solution for you. Simply read on to find out more about whether Girl Scout Cookies are tax-deductible, and what you can do to help out.
What Are Tax-Deductible Expenses?
Tax-deductible expenses can be legally deducted from your overall profits. In turn, this lowers the rate of your overall gross profit and decides on the tax amount that you must pay. In general, if there is a necessary expense for the running of your business, it’s highly likely to be tax-deductible!
For example, if you were to earn $40,000 in a year and make a $1,000 donation to charity during that time period, you are fully eligible to claim a deduction for that donation, reducing your taxable income to $39,000. This is often referred to as an allowable deduction.
Who Are the Girl Scouts?
At one point in your life, you have probably seen Girl Scouts sat at tables in front of stores or in malls selling boxes of delicious cookies to the public.
The Girl Scouts of America sell cookies as a clever way to fundraise money to cover the cost of various exciting events, including summer camps, adult volunteer trainings and troop activities and projects. On average, the money that is raised can be split into the following sections:
- Over 50% of the money earned is put towards funding the cost of council-sponsored programs, scholarships, training, events, and properties.
- 24% is put towards the cost of the cookies.
- 23% goes directly towards troop proceeds, girl recognitions, and service unit bonuses.
- 3% of all money earned goes back to support the cost of Cookie Program support.
All About Girl Scout Cookies
Girl Scout Cookies offer a delectable treat for people of all ages. So if you want to be brought smack bang back into your childhood, we’d recommend purchasing your favorite flavors when you can!
This is because they are only sold during certain months of the year (usually September–April, depending upon the decisions made by local troops).
Therefore, you might want to take advantage and buy as many boxes of your favorite cookies as you can, while you can!
Or, if you are feeling generous, why not buy a box and donate it back to benefit one of the many community projects undertaken by the Girl Scout organization? Some of the most popular cookies include:
- Thin Mints
- Peanut Butter Sandwich
- Caramel deLites
- Peanut Butter Patties
So, Are Girl Scout Cookies Tax Deductible?
If you’re thinking about buying (and scarfing down) many boxes of Thin Mints in this current year, you’re probably wondering whether the cookies are tax-deductible or not. The short answer? Yes and no. It depends on the circumstances.
The Girl Scouts of the USA is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) group, so all donations made are tax-deductible. But, according to the GSA, purchasing these cookies is not a deductible contribution.
So, when you’re purchasing cookies from your local Girl Scouts troop for your own enjoyment, you are not actively making a donation to a greater cause. Instead, you are purchasing a product at fair market value, meaning there is no deduction available for your purchase.
This is because the Internal Revenue Code states that you can’t deduct anything from that which you may receive a personal benefit. This definitely covers the many varieties of Girl Scout cookies currently available!
But, if you buy a few boxes of cookies and leave them with the Girl Scouts that you purchased them from, the purchase price can then be deducted as a charitable contribution!
Here, the Girl Scouts will either gift the cookies to overseas military personnel, or even donate them to local food pantries. You could even donate cookies you purchased from a Girl Scout to another organization, which may qualify as a donation, and may therefore still be seen as tax-deductible.
Girl Scouts may ask you, the customer, to purchase more than one box of cookies so to be included as part of a community service project. This could include specific projects such as “Cookie Share”.
Regardless, this gives customers the opportunity to purchase cookies with the sole intention of immediately donating them! We think that’s a pretty sweet deal.
Furthermore, this means that the customers who choose not to receive their boxes of Girl Scout Cookies do not directly benefit from their purchase. Because you, the customer, have actively made the decision to donate the cookies, the purchase then becomes tax-deductible!
Other Ways to Help
If you don’t want to buy Girl Scout Cookies but still want to seek out a completely 100% tax-deductible way of helping out, there is nothing stopping you from making a cash contribution directly to your local troop!
You can simply hand over the money to a relevant Girl Scout, whether they are selling cookies at your door or stationed outside the doors of your local supermarket.
This is a great way of supporting the troop as every single cent you donate will go towards directly benefitting and aiding them in getting to participate in many events and activities.
Our Final Thoughts
To summarize: Girl Scout cookies that you purchase for yourself are not tax-deductible. They can only be classed as so when you purchase them with the intention of gifting them straight back to the Girl Scout you bought them from.