When I saw the headline in the San Antonio Business Journal, my heart leapt.
Girl Scouts help Health Science Center
researchers fight obesity
Alas, while the young women's latest effort is to be commended -- they're helping involve their community in a Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio project to encourage physical activity among girls -- I was hoping it had something to do with great tasting, lower calorie Thin Mints.
Hi. I'm Kay and I'm a Girl Scout cookie addict.
But one justification that some folks sometimes try to use as a way to excuse their cookie craving won't work. In most cases, the $3.50 per box is not tax deductible.
That's the word from directly from the Girl Scouts:
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.
If, however, you want to hand over your cash (exact change is always appreciated) and leave the cookies with the kid, then you've got yourself a charitable donation. But what fool is going leave those luscious goodies behind?!?
Better to buy your cookies, take them home (if you can get them there without snacking on a few -- OK, most -- en route) and then write the Girl Scouts a check so the organization can continue its programs (and cookie baking!).
The IRS, in Publication 526, has a nice table showing a few common contributions that you can and cannot deduct as a charitable gift.
Cutting the fat and your taxes: Now about the weight you put on from the cookies. If you are even more of a Girl Scout cookie monster than I am, you might get some tax relief in your efforts to drop a few pounds.
The IRS does allow you to include in medical expenses amounts you pay to lose weight if the treatment is for a specific disease, such as obesity, hypertension or heart disease, that your doctor has diagnosed.
In this case, you can count membership fees in a weight-loss group and the costs for separate meetings the group holds.
You cannot, however, include gym, health club or spa membership dues as medical expenses. But if you gym charges you extra for doctor-prescribed weight loss activities, you can count those fees.
Also remember that these weight loss costs are part of your overall medical deductions.
That means the grand total of these expenses, which you can only claim if you itemize and file Schedule A, must be more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. Even then, you can only write off the amount that's over that income threshold.
So maybe you should just buy fewer boxes of Girl Scout cookies (I can't believe I just wrote that!) and give the group a bit of extra cash. That way you could end up reducing not only your waistline, but also your tax bill.Related posts:
- Are Girl Scout cookies deductible? Maybe
- Girl Scout IDs used in tax scheme
- Volunteering: Can the tax man giveth, too?
- Year-end Money Moves: Giving
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