Tag Archives: scout popcorn

Tax Deductions for Popcorn (and other Scouting items)

cutting_taxes_8732As we come upon the infamous April 15th deadline, it is important all Scout leaders understand all of the tax deductions available for popcorn sales and other Scouting related functions. Because every family is different when it comes to taxes, please consult your tax advisor before taking these deductions on your taxes.

The vast majority of Scouting expenses can be deducted under Charitable Contributions on Schedule A, Form 1040. For those who do not know Schedule A on Form 1040 is the place for itemized deductions. As always it is important to keep accurate records of all your Scouting activities in order to take these deductions.

The deductible expenses are those in the performance of a Scout leadership position. However, the leadership position does not have to be formal in nature. Being the Popcorn Kernel is an example of this type of position. Another example is if the Scoutmaster and Scouts are going on an overnight camping trip and you are the ‘second adult’ to fulfill Youth Protection Guidelines. In this instance you are in a Scout leadership role and potential tax deductions apply.   I still recommend registering at minimum as a committee member of your Unit and take the required Youth Protection Training so as to avoid any confusion.

Remember, if you are reimbursed by your Unit for any of these items below related to a Scouting activity, you can no longer claim the deduction.

Below are the most common deduction which can be applied under ‘Charitable Contributions’:


For 2013 and 2014, the mileage rate is 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations. The question is what is ‘driven in service’ mean? This is any mileage driven under the position of a Scout leader. For example, if you are driving your son to a Scout meeting to drop them off, the mileage would not count. However, if you are the Popcorn Kernel and are making a presentation, picking up order forms, or collecting money, the mileage would be deductible. Examples of trips include, but are not limited to, driving to training for popcorn sales, Show and Sell locations, popcorn pick up, popcorn return, Unit meetings, campouts, camp, service projects and Roundtable. Understand, mileage to deliver take order popcorn for your son would not be deductible.

In addition, you may deduct parking fees and tolls to and from Scouting events in addition to the mileage rate.


The Scout Leader’s costs for uniforms, patches, hats, insignia, neckerchiefs, name tags, and other uniform parts are fully deductible provided that they are not of general utility or wear. The cost of upkeep like washing or dry cleaning is also deductible. Your son’s uniform is not deductible.


The cost of materials used in Scout activities (popcorn signs, wood, rope, leather, fuel, water filter elements, first aid supplies, etc.) is deductible, as is the transportation needed to purchase such items.


Scout leaders can deduct the cost of training courses. Examples of Instruction courses include Cub Scout Leader Training, Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO), Boy Scout Basic Training, Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills, Wood Badge. Supplies for these courses like books, maps, and online access fees are also deductible. Courses which go beyond those provided by the Boy Scouts can also be deducted provided they better qualify you as a Scout leaders. Examples include CPR classes, Advanced First Aid, Lifesaving, kayaking, rock climbing, etc. These expenses are in addition to the mileage to and from training courses as mentioned earlier.


Reasonable costs for your meals are deductible if in connection with a Scout trip away from home. This includes the cost of food for campouts. For meals to be deductible, the trip must include an overnight stay away from home. Please note that, unlike expenses for business meals, the cost for meals at Scouting events away from home are 100% deductible for leaders.

Event Fees

Leaders fees for summer camp, camporees, jamborees, Order of the Arrow functions, Philmont, Scout conferences, basic leadership training, etc. are deductible.

Property and Cash

These two items can be difficult to understand. The main reason is most people do not realize to whom they are donating. Understand the Chartered Organization owns the Unit and any donation to the Unit is actually a donation to the Chartered Organization. In addition, the donation must be for the benefit of the Unit as a whole and not to a specific individual in the Unit in order for it to qualify. If the value in question is over $250, there are specific reporting requirement that must be met. I order for you to take the deduction for Cash or Property, you must receive this documentation. For further information review IRS Publication 526.

One final note.  If you purchased popcorn from a Scout last year, you can deduct the amount above and beyond the actual value of the popcorn.  For example, on a $10 purchased item you can deduct the “Return to Scouting” of 70% (or $7) on your taxes.

I hope this helps you in preparing your taxes this year. Once again, review this information with a qualified tax advisor before taking any tax deduction.


4 Items Units Should Share with Webelos Families Entering Boy Scouts

figure_helping_up_friend_10801As Webelos go into Boy Scouts, it is important to set the expectations, both time and money, with parents from the start. Here are a list of items you should share with incoming families into Boy Scouts.

1.  Unit Calendar

Boys want to know what activities they are going to do throughout the year.  Additionally adults want to know what their boys are doing so they can merge their Boy Scout activities with all the other items the family is doing during the year.  This should include the dates of summer camp and all camp outs.  I know for myself with my job, I need to know at least three months in advance if I want to join my son on a particular campout.

In addition, research shows new Boy Scouts that have an activity outside their normal troop meeting, like a campout, are three times more likely to remain in Boy Scouts through the end of the year. Make sure you have one of these activities and invite the adults along.  Remember, these parents just came from a program where parents had to be at everything.  They need to see that their sons are taken care of and do not need to be at all of the Troop events.

2.  Unit Budget

Parents want to know the expenses they will incur by joining your Unit.  They also want to know what the money is going towards.  Remember to include camp when stating the amount needed when their Scout joins.  Not including camps give a false representation of the actual cost of Boy Scouts.  Do not be scared to show the whole amount.  Nationwide, the average cost of a youth in Boy Scouts is $525 per year.  This would include registration, camp, uniforms, patches, campouts and other camping equipment.  Understand that parents are used to learning the whole amount up front when they sign their son up for little league football, baseball or soccer.  Our Unit also includes a mention about Friends of Scouting so this is not a surprise in the future.

3.  Fundraisers

At the same time you give adults the Unit Budget, you should provide parents with all the methods your Unit uses to raise money. This should include the time commitment and monetary goals for each fundraiser.   In addition, the expectations for parent involvement in these fundraisers need to be communicated.  Show how the fundraisers help the Scout and the family with personal growth and how these can help toward earning merit badges like Personal Management and Salesmanship.

4.  Gear List

Depending on the outdoor emphasis and current equipment of the Boy Scout Unit, different personal gear may be needed to participate in certain activities.  This should include the Ten Essentials for every outing.  There may be additional items based on your location.  As an example I live near Seattle, home of the Super Bowl XLVIII Champion Seattle Seahawks, so rain gear is required for every campout.

Remember, in order to retain Webelos joining Boy Scout Units, it is necessary to share all information about the Troop and set the expectations for both the youth and adults regarding fundraisers and participation.  Do not be shy about the money.  Not only are there ways to pay for Scouting inside the Unit, many Councils have designated funds to help assist families so their Scout can have the full Scouting experience.


How Webelos going to Boy Scouts may affect your Popcorn Sale

stick_figure_on_bridge_10157Blue and Gold Banquets are on the horizon which means Webelos will be bridging over to Boy Scouts.  Now is the time to think about how these Scouts bridging over will affect your next popcorn sale.

There are a few questions to consider when looking at these specific Webelos.

How much did these Webelos sell?

Unit Kernels should add up the total sales from these Webelos forms to find out the potential loss to your Total Unit Sales in the next campaign.  Webelos are typically the top sellers in a Cub Scout Pack.  The year my son bridged over into Boy Scouts, the three top sellers in the Unit, including my son, all went to the Boy Scout Troop. This accounted for over $6000 in sales.  This was nearly half of the entire Unit Total Sales.  Many Units order their Show and Sell product based on the previous year’s sale.  Fortunately, my son’s old Pack was aware of the potential loss and made an adjustment before placing their popcorn order.

What do you do with the Webelos’ previous order forms?

As the Unit Kernel, hopefully you made copies of the order forms Scouts have turned in last year and perhaps the last several years.  Normally, this ‘client list’ should follow the Scout when they go on to Boy Scouts.  As part of the paperwork going with the boys to the Troop, include copies of the previous year’s order form.

Does the Troop these Webelos are joining sell popcorn?

Units Leaders should find out if the Troop in which the Webelos are joining sell popcorn.  The Boy Scout Troop may have another fundraiser other than popcorn in which they participate.  In some areas of the country, Scouts can sell as an individual Scout if their home Unit is not selling.  However, in this situation, selling popcorn would be in addition to the traditional Unit fundraiser.  Unit Kernels should ask the adult family member if they plan on selling popcorn once they go to their Troop.  If these Webelos are not going to sell popcorn in the future, then your Unit has a ‘client list’ which can be disseminated to new Tiger Cubs joining your Unit.

Are there key adults of these Webelos which need to be replenished?

Make sure you still have the resources you need to conduct the next popcorn sale.  If one of these Webelos parents was the place you stored all of your popcorn, you may need a new location.  This same philosophy goes for bookkeeping, training, popcorn pick up, Show and Sell coordinator, and maybe even the Unit Kernel.  It is best to take care of finding your popcorn leadership now rather than waiting for the fall.

I want to congratulate all of these Webelos which earned the Arrow of Light and good luck as you continue along the Scouting trail.


Top 5 Popcorn Guy Blog Posts of 2013


As we end 2013, it is time to look back at what everyone thought was most valuable.  It is no surprise the Top 4 items included tools which many Councils have not provided in the past.  Below is the Top 5 Popcorn Blogs of 2013:


5. Best Way to Let People Know You Are Selling Popcorn

With most fundraisers it is important to let your donors (customers) know why money is being raised. Continue Reading…

4. Scouts Should “Be Prepared” To Sell Popcorn

In many sales circles, it is recommended a salesperson has an “elevator pitch” ready at all times.  An elevator pitch or speech is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, product, service, or organization and its value to the customer.  The theory is this “pitch” should be no longer than it takes to ride and elevator.  Typically this is between 30 and 45 seconds. Continue Reading…

3. Need Help Organizing Your Popcorn Sale? Ask a Scout!

Many adults get leery about volunteering to help with the Unit Popcorn Sale.  The main reason is the amount of time and effort that goes into a sale, especially if there is just one adult in charge.  In a previous blog, I spoke about recruiting different adult volunteers to handle items such as the Unit Kickoff, Distribution, Site Sale Location, and Prizes.  However, one of your biggest helpers is the Scouts themselves. Continue Reading…

2. Door Hangers to Help While Going Door-to-Door

As my son and I were delivering popcorn this week, I realized that I had not shared with everyone a key piece of information, how to let customers know we were coming or coming back. Continue Reading…

1. 10 Reasons (Other than Money) Why Your Scout Should Sell Popcorn

We all know that Popcorn Sales help provide funds for Scouts to help them with their program, but there are many life skills a Scout learns by participating in the Popcorn Sale. Here are the Top 10. Continue Reading…


I started this blog in order to share the vast knowledge I have acquired as a volunteer, professional in the Boy Scouts, and working for Trail’s End Popcorn.

I would like to thank everyone that subscribed to the Popcorn Guy Blog this past year.  In addition, I thank those that follow the Popcorn Guy on Twitter at @popcorn_guy and on Google+.

Please feel free to send me comments and suggestions on how to make The Popcorn Guy Blog better in 2014.


My Christmas Wish List for My Son

christmas_figure_reading_list_7154Dear Santa:

I know most people write you letters with what they want for Christmas.  I would like to ask for the following for my son:


I know as he grows up, my son will need to be able to present himself to others.  If he has the self-confidence to approach a person he does not know, it will help him with job interviews and selling himself.  However, he has sold popcorn for the last several years and I have seen him grow tremendously in this area.  I guess this is covered already.  Let me think of something else.

Reach His Goals

Every parent wants his child to be better off than they were.  I am no exception, Santa.  I wish my son would set goals and reach them.  Now that I think about it, my son was able to go to the National Jamboree last year because he met his popcorn sales goal.  He not only reached his goal, but became more self-reliant because he went across the country by himself.  I know he will use these skills later in life.  This seems to be covered as well.

Be Courteous to Others

I want my son to treat others with respect as he grows up.  There are so few people who say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’, but I want my son to be one of those people.  But I remember seeing my son confronted by a person during last year’s popcorn sale that was belligerent and really put down the Boy Scouts as a group.  My son just said “Thank You for giving me the opportunity.  Have a good day.”  The person was so confused, he just walked away.  I think he handled it better than I would.  And I am sure you have received the Thank You Letters from him in the past.  This sounds taken care of as well.

Well Santa, it looks like the big picture items are taken care of because of Scout Popcorn Sales.  Now that I think about it, my son is a really good kid.  I guess if you could just get him the video game on his list, he deserves it.  Thank you, Santa.


How Far Ahead Should Units Plan Their Calendar

stick_figure_cliff_vision_4133Most Units do what is required for the Journey to Excellence Award and create a plan for one year.  However, planning out more than one year may be to your advantage.

Boy Scout Troops, Varsity Teams and Venture Crews have the greatest need for planning further out than one year.  Many Boy Scout Units have already made the decision where they plan to go to Summer Camp in 2014.  However, most Units have not made a reservation for 2015.  The main reason I hear is Councils are not prepared to take a reservation further out than one year.  However, this does not mean that Units cannot think about this in advance.  Troop 214 in Anchorage, AK takes a trip to Hawaii for Summer Camp every 3-4 years.  Scouts in this Unit know this and plan to use proceeds from popcorn sales over two years in order to pay for this trip.

There are other Boy Scout Events that could use two years of fundraisers to collect all of the funds they need for the event.  In 2015, Scouts in the Order of the Arrow have the opportunity to participate in the National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC) at Michigan State University on August 3-8, 2015.  Just before this event the World Jamboree is happening July 28 – August 3, 2015 in Yamaguchi City, Japan.  Unfortunately, for most Councils, there is only one popcorn sale between now and when these events occur.

Units may want to go to Philmont, Summit Bechtel Reserve, Florida Sea Base or the Northern Tier High Adventure Base in the coming years.  These locations often require advance registration in order for your Unit to attend.  This often requires more planning than just one year.

Cub Scout Packs may have similar concerns.  Many Councils offer a Webelos Resident Camp in which the Scout and the adult attend.  This can be more than double the cost of Day Camp.  Parents that are not prepared may find they are taking money out of their own pocket to pay for this activity rather than teaching their sons the value of a dollar, setting goals and developing a plan to have popcorn pay for the whole thing. The final item to consider is planning the purchase of a large item.  Packs may want to purchase a new Pinewood Derby track with the electronic timing system.  I have noticed in my son’s Troop having a trailer to haul all of the patrol boxes and Scout gear would significantly reduce the amount of time it would take to pack up and go to an outing.  Sometimes this may take two or more years of fundraisers to gather the capital to purchase this item.

Having a longer range goal than one year is necessary and can benefit your Unit and Scouts exponentially.



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