Emilie Ritter Saunders reports: For cookie connoisseurs, this might be the best time of year. It’s Girl Scout cookie season. Starting next week, Idaho Girl Scouts will be canvassing neighborhoods and their parents’ offices to take orders for boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas, and all the rest.
Each box sells for $3.75, and 22 cents of that goes to the state. Idaho and Hawaii are the only two states in the country to tax the sale of Girl Scout cookies. That’s according to the Girl Scouts of Silver Sage, the council of Girl Scouts in southern Idaho, northern Nevada and eastern Oregon.
The council is behind an effort to exempt the cookies from sales tax in Idaho. All together, their Scouts in Idaho sell about $2.5 million in cookies each year, $140,000 of which goes to the state.
Julie Hart is lobbying the Legislature on behalf of Idaho’s Girl Scouts. She says the cookie fundraiser should be exempt from Idaho’s sales tax because money raised goes toward building life skills.
“No matter how much the Girl Scouts tack on to a box of cookies, that’s still money they are not able to keep for the program,” says Hart. “The State of Idaho should not balance the budget on the backs of Brownies.”
The Girl Scout cookie sale isn’t the only fundraiser taxed in Idaho. In fact, most are. Tax policy specialist at the Idaho Tax Commission Saul Cohen says unless specific fundraisers or entities are exempt from Idaho’s sales tax, they’re paying it. That means Boy Scout fundraisers are taxed here. School fruit or candy sales are also taxed. One specific exemption goes to 4-H or FFA clubs. Those groups don’t have to include a sales tax when they sell an animal at a local fair.
There is a bill draft floating around the Capitol to exempt the Girl Scout cookie sale from Idaho’s sales tax. Hart expects the proposal will be in front of the House Rev and Tax Committee sometime next week. Still, chairman Gary Collins (R-Nampa) isn’t sure of the bill’s fate. “There are plenty of things looking for exemptions,” said Collins.