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In Boy Scouts vs. Girl Scouts fight, both win

Published March 7, 2013 6:35 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A legislative fight between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts ended Thursday with legislators deciding that both should win.

A new proposal would allow both to receive check-off boxes on income tax forms to allow Utahns to donate part of their returns to them — coming after the Girl Scouts protested loudly that the original HB145 would benefit only the Boy Scouts.

Protests over inequity temporarily killed HB145 earlier this week. But its sponsor, Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, amended it to allow check-offs for both groups — and the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee passed it Friday 7-1. It now goes to the full Senate.

"This is fair and equitable for both boys and girls," Utah Girl Scouts CEO Cathleen Sparrow told the committee.

Left out, however, were other youth groups from 4-H to Campfire, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Future Farmers of America and others that the committee earlier suggested maybe should be included.

Eliason's bill originally called for creating a "Youth Development Organization" account. In earlier House debate, he said merely that money would go to groups that meet criteria in the bill. However, it would give to just those youth groups that have at least 180,000 members in the state.

After Eliason acknowledged to The Tribune that only Boy Scouts have that many members, Girl Scouts protested. The bill now also creates a separate "Youth Character Organization" account for any group created under 36 U.S. Code Section 80301, which is just the Girl Scouts.

Eliason said the State Tax Commission plans to include information in tax forms showing in clear terms that the Boy Scouts would receive money from one fund, and Girl Scouts from the other.

If groups fail to collect $30,000 a year for three straight years from check-offs, state law requires removing them from tax forms. Eliason said his bill is written so that if either the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts eventually are removed, "they both will be removed — so they are tied together to keep things equal."

According to the State Tax Commission, groups now receiving check-offs last year split a combined $223,457 in donations offered from 13,646 returns.

That included: the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund, $59,791; Kurt Oscarson Children's Organ Transplant Fund, $54,183; the Cat & Dog Community Spay and Neuter Program, $43,408; donations to local schools, $33,730; the Utah Nongame Wildlife Account, $28,024; and the Methamphetamine House Reconstruction & Rehabilitation Fund, $4,321.