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WHAT’S NEW More Badges? You Bet

Last year, the BSA debuted the Welding, Kayaking, and Search and Rescue merit badges. In 2013, we’ll welcome several more.

Game Design launches in March at the South By Southwest Conference in Austin, Tex. Scouts must design and test a game in one of several formats:

 Electronic (for computers, home game consoles, mobile devices, and other gadgets)  Outdoor, athletic, or sports-type games Tabletop (dice-based games, board games, card games)

 Pen-and-paper or role-playing games “A lot of game development and design depends on testing and improving the game

based on how people respond when they play it, how they understand the rules, and so on,” says Janice Downey, senior innovation manager. “The games will be tested and improved several times over.”

Other new 2013 badges include Sustainability, which will become Eagle-required after its jamboree debut as an option to Environmental Science. Cooking merit badge will get revamped and will become Eagle-required on Jan. 1, 2014, though the total number of merit badges required for Eagle will remain at 21. Also in 2013, look for a new mountain-biking option to Cycling as well as Programming and Digital Technology merit badges.

MONEY MATTERS Scout Out Your Deductible Expenses

Those Scouting-related expenses can stack up. It’s all for a good cause, we know, but with April 15 not that far away, here’s a quick guide to what you can—and cannot— deduct from your taxes. Gary Seger, a CPA whose son will earn his Eagle this year, says that according to IRS guidelines, you’re allowed a charitable tax deduction for any “non-reimbursed, out- of-pocket expenses connected directly to your performance as a Scout leader.” That applies to any volunteer role an adult plays in Scouting, whether a uniformed leader or a parent lending a hand. Seger says that a broad spectrum of

expenses falls into the “can-deduct” cat- egory, including but not limited to: driving in performance of your duties for campouts, service projects, committee meetings, training sessions, or other Scouting-related activities. You can take either 14 cents

per mile or the actual cost of gas and oil. You may also deduct the cost of materials for items such as awards, food, lodging, parking, tolls, and admission fees, if you’re accompanying Scouts to cultural or edu- cational activities like museums. Also OK are the costs of uniforms, patches, books, charts, and maps used in your role as a Scouting volunteer. One caveat: Meals are deductible only if

you have incurred an overnight stay, Seger says. If you’re driving back from a weekend campout and stop for lunch, your meal is deductible. If you just attended a two-hour meeting and your stomach’s growling, you’ll need to pick up the full tab yourself. As for other no-no’s, Ken Sibley, also

a CPA, warns that the IRS has stepped up enforcement on charitable contributions. For example, if you want to deduct costs of uniforms, they must be official and not something you might wear in the course of daily activities. You also can’t deduct the cost of a tent or rock-climbing gear or fishing equipment because these items could easily be used for non-Scouting purposes.

  ¿ SCOUTING 7

Another murky area has to do with banquets and auctions. If you buy a 10-seat table at $100 a seat, you can deduct nine of the seats ($900) but not your own. That’s because you received a $100 benefit from the purchase. In addition, if you buy an item worth $100 for $200 at a charitable auction, you can’t deduct the first $100—the actual value—but you can deduct what you paid beyond its stated value. Consult with a tax professional if you

have any doubts about deduction dos and don’ts. These tips are just guidelines and may not apply to your particular situation.

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