Bringing the Economy Home

Girl Scout Cookie Tax Break Passes Idaho House, Could Face Uphill Battle In The Senate

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

These Scouts learn how to count change for their future customers.

A sales tax exemption for Girl Scout cookies sold in Idaho will advance to the upper chamber after lawmakers in the House approved the measure 59-11.

The Spokesman-Review’s Betsy Russell reports the bill passed without debate.

Idaho and Hawaii are the only two states that tax the sale of Girl Scout cookies. In Idaho, 22 cents from every box sold goes to the state. That amounts to about $140,000 in revenue each year.

The tax exemption bill may have a tougher time in the Senate, where President Pro Tem Brent Hill (R-Rexburg) has said he’s not sure if the bill will even get a hearing.

During an Idaho Press Club lunch last week, Hill said lawmakers need to rethink the strategy of granting tax exemptions to individual organizations that lobby lawmakers each year.

“I’m going to get in so much trouble for this but, you know those same Girls Scouts that want a little bit extra for their camps this year, those are going to be mothers down the road that are going to be shopping for groceries to put food on the table for their kids,” said Hill. “If we have to raise the sales tax to 7 cents or 6.5 cents down the road because we keep adding more and more and more exemptions, how are we going to control that?”

Hill said if the state eliminated some of its sales tax exemptions, lawmakers could look at lowering the 6 percent tax.

“We need to broaden the base and lower the rate.  We shouldn’t be reducing the base and raising the rate, which will eventually result in rate increases if we just keep allowing every exemption by every worthy cause,” Hill said. “We either need to come up with a policy and guidelines for which charitable organizations we’re going to permit to have exemptions, or else don’t permit exemptions for any of them. Let’s not pick and choose by who hired the best lobbyist, or who has the best in with some legislator, or who can tell the saddest story. Let’s base it on some reason and some fairness.”


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