Are you starting to get in the Christmas spirit? Feeling a little holly and jolly? Well, this might make you a little Scrooge-like. The Obama administration has just announced a 15-cent charge — or tax — on all fresh Christmas trees to, as the Heritage Foundation explains, “improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.”
Heritage has more:
In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)). And the program of “information” is to include efforts to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10).
To pay for the new Federal Christmas tree image improvement and marketing program, the Department of Agriculture imposed a 15-cent fee on all sales of fresh Christmas trees by sellers of more than 500 trees per year (7 CFR 1214.52). And, of course, the Christmas tree sellers are free to pass along the 15-cent Federal fee to consumers who buy their Christmas trees.
The new charge, however, could mean bad news for the industry. Politico reports sales of fresh trees has declined lately:
Fresh tree sales declined from 37 million in 1991 to 31 million in 2007, according to the Agriculture Department. Meanwhile, sales of artificial trees nearly doubled to 17.4 million between 2003 and 2007, according to McClatchy.
“The economy is barely growing and nine percent of the American people have no jobs,” Heritage says. “Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do?”
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