Christmas Tree Tax

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GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116
Christmas Tree Tax

Should it be the government's role to promote fresh Christmas trees?

One of Christmas' most recognizable symbols apparently needs a PR campaign -- and a new tax to pay for it.

The Obama administration has imposed a 15-cent tax on Christmas trees in order to pay for a new board tasked with promoting the Christmas tree industry.

The new fee and board were announced in the Federal Register on Tuesday, to be effective Wednesday. According to the Agriculture Department announcement, the government will impose a 15-cent-per-tree charge on "producers and importers" of fresh Christmas trees, provided they sell or import more than 500 trees a year.

The change quickly drew opposition from Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who vowed to fight what he described as a "Grinch" move by the administration. "It is shocking that President Obama tried to sneak through this new tax on Christmas trees," Scalise said in a statement Wednesday.

The program and fee, though, were supported by some in the Christmas tree industry. The money is not meant to pay down the debt or fund any other program. The Agriculture Department-imposed tax is designed to go back into the new Christmas Tree Promotion Board.

The board, proposed earlier this year, is the culmination of a years-long effort by the fresh Christmas tree industry to promote itself, according to the background provided in the Federal Register. The industry has faced increasing competition from producers of artificial trees, but efforts to collect voluntary contributions for a fresh-tree marketing campaign have repeatedly run out of funding. So the government stepped in to mandate a fee to support the promotion board.

Heritage Foundation Vice President David Addington, who first reported on the rule on his blog Tuesday evening, said there are two problems with the new fee. First, he said it's likely the 15 percent fee will be passed on to consumers. Second, he said it's inappropriate for the government to be putting its "thumb on the scale," helping out the fresh-tree sellers and not the artificial-tree sellers.

"If it's one thing I think the free market could handle, it's letting people decide what kind of tree they want to buy for Christmas," Addington told FoxNews.com.

But Agriculture Department spokesman Michael T. Jarvis defended the program, saying it's along the lines of over 20 other promotional programs supported by the department, such as the "got milk" campaign.

"It's worked great for beef, pork, chicken, eggs," he added.

Jarvis also insisted the fee does not count as a tax, since the industry is effectively "assessing themselves."

"This one's not a tax," he said.

The industry itself further rejected the claim that the fee would be passed onto consumers. The National Christmas Tree Association said in a statement that the program "is not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree."

The group said most growers who weighed in on the proposal were in favor of it.

According to the Federal Register, the new board is supposed to launch a "program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry's position in the marketplace."

As part of that job, the board has been charged with improving the image of both Christmas trees and the industry itself. After three years, an industry-wide referendum will be held to determine whether to renew the program.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/11/09/merry-christmas-agriculture-department-imposes-christmas-tree-tax/#ixzz1dEZS9YJC

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

I don't understand why the government feels the need to promote fresh trees in the first place. Seems a tad overstepping of boundaries, IMO.

ITA with this:

"If it's one thing I think the free market could handle, it's letting people decide what kind of tree they want to buy for Christmas," Addington told FoxNews.com.

I love a real tree because I grew up with one. I don't need the feds to push their agenda on me. I happily support the local economy by buying a real tree grown locally. I'd feel bad for the tree farmers if they had to start charging an extra tax and deal with federal regulations and rules.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

Well I am not sure #1 it is actually promoting or HURTING the live tree industry. If they have to pay tax they will for sure pass it on to the customer.
I not only disagree with this from a conservative "Anti crazy tax in general" viewpoint. But I Think it is a disgusting display of anti-non-profits...

What I mean by that is in my area. Nearly all christmas tree lots are used as fundraisers for non-profits. We get ours from our local boyscout troop. But many other groups do the same at Christmas time. It is rare that I hear of someone getting their tree from Rite-Aid or other Commercial stores, most people I know either cut their own (paying sometimes small local family run farms), or go to these non-profit lots.

It makes me all the more for a flat tax!

Oh and a FEE is a TAX.. don't play the definition of IS.. IS with me.. !

Finally.. How can a president institute a tax? I thought that was a different branch of government.. Oh and I read a joke about this.. cracked me up..

"I want my Christmas tree without an Executive Branch" lol

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

WAIT. Got milk is funded with Tax Dollars? Really? It's so sad our govenrment thninks tey need to tell us what to eat and now what kind of frekaing tree to buy. Butt out.

eta-Where is the seperation of state and religion here?

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

Tax the Bibles, the Koran, Head coverings, and Menorahs.

culturedmom's picture
Joined: 09/30/06
Posts: 1131

Don't bring the Jews into this. It's hard enough finding a freakin menorah and hanukkah wrapping paper let alone y'all wanting to tax it.

I'm all for taxing the trees. I hate them. They smell and leave a flippin' mess everywhere in my house. Mayeb if they were taxed and more expensive Dh would get off the whole "real tree" thing. If I have to have one in my house I prefer it be fake and fit in box.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"culturedmom" wrote:

Don't bring the Jews into this. It's hard enough finding a freakin menorah and hanukkah wrapping paper let alone y'all wanting to tax it.

I'm all for taxing the trees. I hate them. They smell and leave a flippin' mess everywhere in my house. Mayeb if they were taxed and more expensive Dh would get off the whole "real tree" thing. If I have to have one in my house I prefer it be fake and fit in box.

Come spend a weekend in CO with me - I know where to get the hook up on menorahs and wrapping paper.

To the OP - How bizarre. No, I don't think that it's the government's place to promote fresh Christmas trees.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

This is what gets me...

The board, proposed earlier this year, is the culmination of a years-long effort by the fresh Christmas tree industry to promote itself, according to the background provided in the Federal Register. The industry has faced increasing competition from producers of artificial trees, but efforts to collect voluntary contributions for a fresh-tree marketing campaign have repeatedly run out of funding. So the government stepped in to mandate a fee to support the promotion board.

So the Christmas tree industry doesn't think its important enough to do it themselves, but the government thinks it's so important that they have to mandate it? I'm kind of surprised that the Freedom From Religion group hasn't jumped all over this since the government will be promoting Christmas trees.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

"Rivergallery" wrote:

Tax the Bibles, the Koran, Head coverings, and Menorahs.

What was the point of this? I am assuming it was in jest?

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

What was the point of this? I am assuming it was in jest?

of course! It was in response to the previous post.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

I guess they changed their minds, they must have decided even they would have a hard time spinning this one now that the media found out about it.

The White House has decided to sideline a proposed fee on Christmas trees, after the fee was ridiculed by critics as a tax on Christmas.

White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told Fox News on Wednesday afternoon that the administration is putting a stop to the proposal.

"I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama administration is not taxing Christmas trees. What's being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign, similar to how the dairy producers have created the 'Got Milk?' campaign," he said. "That said, USDA is going to delay implementation and revisit this action."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/11/09/merry-christmas-agriculture-department-imposes-christmas-tree-tax/#ixzz1dKEiumxJ

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"wlillie" wrote:

eta-Where is the seperation of state and religion here?

What does this mean?

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

What Gloria said. If it said "Christmas" tree, then it wouldn't be religion neutral, right? Why wouldn't they call the campaign, Holiday tree?

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

Christmas Tree Promotion Board sounds pretty fishy to me. It just seems like this is another way that the government is trying to stick their nose in where it doesn't belong. I absolutely love live Christmas trees and had one every year of my life up until last year (just because I couldn't afford one)... as I'm sure many people do. I don't think this industry needs any help with "promotion." I don't know about other cities, but I know that here in Las Vegas, there's a Christmas tree lot up on every other corner, and they're not hurting for business at all. If people are going to buy a tree, they're going to buy a tree. They don't need a "board" pushing them telling them that they should have one... how ridiculous.

ETA: Yea, they put a stop to it because they knew that once the public found out about yet ANOTHER tax they would be up in arms!!

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"wlillie" wrote:

What Gloria said. If it said "Christmas" tree, then it wouldn't be religion neutral, right? Why wouldn't they call the campaign, Holiday tree?

I don't know. Don't they have a Christmas Tree on the front lawn of the White House? Christmas is a National Holiday isn't it? I could be totally wrong, but I don't get how acknowledging that a product exists (like, Christmas trees) mixes church and state. That would be like saying that if they have a tax on income at churches it should not be called a "Church offering tax" and instead should be called a "place of worship offering tax" because they are mixing church and state. Semantics. Maybe I'm missing something.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

They wouldn't just be acknowledging it though, they'd be promoting it. The money was supposed to go to the campaign to have people choose live trees over fake. Which would make sense if it'd been proven to be better for the environment, but it hasn't; they just wanted to "help" a certain business group. Which isn't the government's job IMO especially the USDA.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"wlillie" wrote:

They wouldn't just be acknowledging it though, they'd be promoting it. The money was supposed to go to the campaign to have people choose live trees over fake. Which would make sense if it'd been proven to be better for the environment, but it hasn't; they just wanted to "help" a certain business group. Which isn't the government's job IMO especially the USDA.

But they would be promoting christmas TREES, not christmas, right? I guess I see Christmas as such a secular holiday anymore that maybe I'm just looking at it right. That said, doesn't the government help lots of business groups (dairy council, beef industry, farmers, the car industry, green technology etc etc?)

I think that it was a weird idea, so I agree with you guys, I guess I just don't get the church and state part. Honestly I would think that fresh (specifically live) trees ARE better for the environment ~ the farms preserve open space, there is no gross plastic off gassing in peoples homes like the plastic trees, and they don't end up in landfills.