Is donation to scout camp tax deductible?

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hansg
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Is donation to scout camp tax deductible?

Postby hansg » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:25 am

Our bishop has had some dialog with a benefactor who would like to pay for scout camp for all our boys. He is not a member of the ward, in fact I'm not sure he's even a member at all. But can he write a check to cover scout camp, and have that be tax deductible?
I ask because I recall some discussion a few years about about various budget categories, some of which MLS treated as tax-deductible donation categories, some not.

Thank you.

Gary_Miller
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Re: Is donation to scout camp tax deductible?

Postby Gary_Miller » Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:47 am

The best way to do this and have it be tax deductible would be for the benefactor to directly pay the camp fees to the Scout Council where the camp is located.

allenjpl
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Re: Is donation to scout camp tax deductible?

Postby allenjpl » Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:16 am

hansg wrote:Our bishop has had some dialog with a benefactor who would like to pay for scout camp for all our boys. He is not a member of the ward, in fact I'm not sure he's even a member at all. But can he write a check to cover scout camp, and have that be tax deductible?
I ask because I recall some discussion a few years about about various budget categories, some of which MLS treated as tax-deductible donation categories, some not.

Thank you.


It won't show up as a charitable contribution on the MLS report because it would be the Other:AMFA subaccounts are mainly used to record payments received for a tangible benefit. That is, he pays for the boy's camp fees, and the boys get to attend camp. It doesn't make any difference that he doesn't personally benefit. There are also issues of control involved - if he gets to determine who gets helped by a donation, it probably isn't really a charitable contribution. The bottom line is that he needs to seek the advice of a tax professional. You can tell him that any donation to the Other:AMFA subaccount for Scout camp fees will not show up as a charitable contribution, and that he should get professional advice on whether it would be deductible.

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aebrown
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Re: Is donation to scout camp tax deductible?

Postby aebrown » Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:29 am

Before you even consider tax deductibility, the first question that needs to be answered is if a donation is even allowed. The way I read the handbook, the answer is no. How are scout activities to be funded? The answer is quite clear (all these quotes are from Handbook 2, Section 13.2.8):
  • "Stake and ward budget funds should be used to pay for all activities, programs, and supplies."
  • "Possible exceptions to the funding policy in the preceding paragraph are listed below. If the ward budget does not have sufficient funds to pay for the following activities, leaders may ask participants to pay for part or all of them:
    1. One annual extended Scout camp or similar activity for young men...."
  • "If funds from participants are not sufficient, the bishop may authorize one group fund-raising activity annually that complies with the guidelines in 13.6.8."
That is the complete set of relevant exceptions to the foundational principle "Stake and ward budget funds should be used to pay for all activities, programs, and supplies" (except for equipment for camps, which is covered in 13.2.9, but which follows the same rules). Nowhere is the possibility of accepting donations listed. Therefore donations are not acceptable.

Of course, those with keys to interpret these policies in the specific unit involved (the bishop, stake president, and area and general authorities above them) would make the final determination. But I'm hard pressed to find even a hint in the handbooks that accepting donations to fund any activities is acceptable.

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gregwanderson
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Re: Is donation to scout camp tax deductible?

Postby gregwanderson » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:22 am

I once had someone ask if they could donate a car to a needy family and have the Bishop give them a statement showing it to be a tax-deductible, charitable donation. I had to explain that it just can't happen within the system we use in our ward. Same answer for this situation. On the ward level using MLS, there just isn't anything else you can do and no document or training to tell you otherwise.

bvaughnd
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Re: Is donation to scout camp tax deductible?

Postby bvaughnd » Fri Apr 12, 2013 4:51 pm

I recently had a similar discussion with my bishop. Luckily he is an accountant and understood the law behind it. He told me that in order for a donation to be considered a charitable donation for tax purposes it must be donated with "no strings attached" meaning that the donor has no say in what actually happens with the money. Money donated to the other account such as scout camp have a specific purpose. Any money donated anywhere else on the tithing and offerings slip can be used at the church's discretion.

BarryAndreasen
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Re: Is donation to scout camp tax deductible?

Postby BarryAndreasen » Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:30 am

I think the answer is that through the MLS system, any contributions to 'other' (which includes all scouting donations) are not recognized as charitable donations. This does not mean they are not deductible, only that they will not be indicated as tax-deductible by the Church.

Donations to scouting units can be tax deductible however depending on the situation surrounding the donation. As has been mentioned, the donation cannot be for specific purpose such as "pay Johnny's camp fee", but if a donation (that happens to match the camp fees for all scouts in a unit) is made to the unit, the donation could be deductible. However, whether the funds are used to cover camp or not must remain the decision of the unit (not the donor). The unit can issue a letter/receipt for the donation, which the donor may use for tax purposes - or the donor can simply show proof of the donation from their own accounting sources.

russellhltn
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Re: Is donation to scout camp tax deductible?

Postby russellhltn » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:05 am

BarryAndreasen wrote:I think the answer is that through the MLS system, any contributions to 'other' (which includes all scouting donations) are not recognized as charitable donations.


That's not entirely true. It would be true of most, if not all, of the "Other" categories that the Ward creates. They would most likely fall under "Authorized Member Funded Activities". But there are some "Other" categories created by the church that will find it's way to the year-end tax statement. Such as Temple patron assistance, Priesthood restoration site, Temple construction, Perpetual education and Book of Mormon.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

allenjpl
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Re: Is donation to scout camp tax deductible?

Postby allenjpl » Tue Dec 24, 2013 11:43 am

aebrown wrote:Before you even consider tax deductibility, the first question that needs to be answered is if a donation is even allowed. The way I read the handbook, the answer is no. {snip} Nowhere is the possibility of accepting donations listed. Therefore donations are not acceptable.


Your reading would also preclude payment from the parents (not that that's a bad thing!), because it didn't come directly from the participants. Personally, I think parents should never be asked to shoulder the burden of paying for camp, seeing as a Scout is Thrifty - he pays his own way. Be that as it may, the common practice is that the parents write a check to the ward. I don't see any meaningful difference between parents writing a check and a third-party writing a check for the same purpose - to pay for a young man to attend an annual camp. In either case, it isn't a donation.

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aebrown
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Re: Is donation to scout camp tax deductible?

Postby aebrown » Wed Dec 25, 2013 6:26 pm

allenjpl wrote:Your reading would also preclude payment from the parents (not that that's a bad thing!), because it didn't come directly from the participants.

Correct. The handbook is quite clear on that. If the intent were to allow parents to pay, the handbook would not specifically say (in HB2, 13.2.8): "leaders may ask participants to pay for part or all of them" (emphasis added).

allenjpl wrote:Personally, I think parents should never be asked to shoulder the burden of paying for camp, seeing as a Scout is Thrifty - he pays his own way. Be that as it may, the common practice is that the parents write a check to the ward. I don't see any meaningful difference between parents writing a check and a third-party writing a check for the same purpose - to pay for a young man to attend an annual camp. In either case, it isn't a donation.

I don't see much difference either -- neither one is permitted by the policy in the handbook.


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