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  • Obama Administration to Reconsider Christmas Tree Tax

    In the face of a national outcry, the Obama administration has decided to delay its Christmas Tree Tax—first reported here on the Foundry—though they haven’t said till when (presumably until the criticism blows over). ABC’s Jake Tapper reports:

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to delay implementation a revisit a proposed new 15 cent fee on fresh-cut Christmas trees, sources tell ABC News. The fee, requested by the National Christmas Tree Association in 2009, was first announced in the Federal Registry yesterday, and has generated criticism of President Obama from conservative media outlets.

    The program, which would have levied a 15-cent tax on “all sales of fresh Christmas trees by sellers of more than 500 trees per year” has been roundly criticized, including by several members of Congress. In a statement, Senator DeMint promised to push for a full repeal of “the single stupidest tax of all time”.

    As Heritage’s David Addington noted last night:

    The economy is barely growing and nine percent of the American people have no jobs.  Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do?

    Stay tuned to Foundry.org further updates and consider signing up for Heritage’s Morning Bell newsletter.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to Obama Administration to Reconsider Christmas Tree Tax

    1. drummer54 says:

      "Single stupidest tax of all time" Well said!

    2. Scott says:

      Wait, isn't a trivially small flat tax on consumption exactly what conservative fiscal policy calls for? The government must be funded; we can either tax income & capital gains, or we can tax consumption, and we can either have progressive or flat taxation. The "Christmas tree tax" taxes consumption, and it's flat. How is it not a good idea?

      • 282Mikado says:

        How about Congress getting there house in order and living within a budget before raising and creating more and more taxes. If I ran my house like they run the government I would be in jail. They don't need this tax, they need to get their books in order.

        Politicians are like diapers…They both should be changed often, and for the same reason.

        • Scott says:

          Everyone who has a mortgage or a car loan does run their house like the government. But spending is beside the point here. The relevant question when considering the propriety of any particular tax is not whether the government was right to spend that amount of money in the first place. (In part because the money has already been spent, and every dollar the government spends must be paid with revenue raised from taxes. Either one dollar in taxes today, or one dollar plus interest in taxes tomorrow, which is why the GOP's 40-year love-affair with deficit spending makes them the party of high taxes. Let us first address that beam in our own eye.) Rather, the question is whether the tax is a proper and efficient way to collect that amount of revenue.

          A trivially small, flat tax on the consumption of non-essential goods is exactly what conservatives such as the Heritage Foundation have been advocating for decades now. I happen to believe that they're largely correct in this preference for flatter consumption taxation rather than progressive income/profit taxation. So ridiculing this tax sure looks like abandoning important principles purely for the sake of partisan name-calling. If Heritage pushes for an idea but then ridicules Democrats for putting the idea into practice, then Heritage was lying in the first place about the worth of the idea, and the whole conservative enterprise would be shown, to that degree, to be a fraud. Either ideas and principles matter, or they do not. In this instance, Heritage is creating the impression that they do not, which is deeply unfortunate. The tax-policy principles at stake are too important.

        • @jmerrell81 says:

          This money is not going to the governement, nor is it being collected from consumers. This is a check-off program, people! The Christmas tree growers are paying the 15 cent fee. I shouldn't be surprised, but I am – this is being "spun" to benefit everyone's political agendas!

    3. Tom in Montana says:

      It's not a tax, never was and never will be.

      Much like the pork checkoff (Remember the "America's Other White Meat"
      ads), the milk checkoff ("Got Milk?") and the beef checkoff ("Beef: It's
      What's For Dinner"), this is a fee imposed on the Christmas tree
      industry by the Christmas tree industry itself to promote its product.
      Growers have been working on ramping this up for three years … in
      other words, when George W. Bush was still president.

      And it's not 15 cents per tree added on. It's 15 cents per tree taken
      off the top of the growers' gross revenues. The consumer's price doesn't
      change. The growers have come a long way — when they first discussed
      this back in the 1980s, there were death threats involved.

      A quick check with Rick Dungey of the National Christmas Tree
      Association could have cleared up your confusion. Or you could have
      popped over to their website and read this document: http://www.christmastree.org//checkoff.pdf

      It's called "research," sir. Next time, do some.

    4. ThatGirl says:

      One might reasonably ask: Why would the National Christmas Tree Association request a tax on its own product? The answer seems to be: Because the proceeds would be used to promote the industry nationally – in a manner similar to the 'Got Milk?' campaign which has been run successfully for years, and the famous 'Beef: It's What's For Dinner' campaign, which has also produced excellent results for that industry.

      Why this industry, and why now? Because live-tree sales have been declining for years, as consumers began to favour artificial trees instead – some 80% of which are produced in China, incidentally. And because, according to the American Christmas Tree Journal: "NCTA’s entire 2010 budget for promoting and protecting the industry is less than one artificial Christmas tree company spends on a single, one-page ad in a national magazine."

      • Bobbie says:

        by the way, one of my favorite shows growing up!

        but anyway, the industry has seen this coming for quite some time. Incompetence runs to government…today! they're losing business as business often does, when interests change or in this possible regard, land being sold off. most people move on. it's time people live up to their own on their own and deal with it at their own expense. this little hit probably lost them more business!

        • @jmerrell81 says:

          Check-off programs (which this is) are requested by the producers of a commodity, not initiated by the USDA. The USDA oversees check-off operations to make sure they are consistent with the intent of Congress. The check-offs themselves are run by farmers and their employees. The Supreme Court has specifically ruled that commodity check-off programs are constitutional._This is not a tax on consumers, its a check-off program initiated by the growers themselves to bolster their industry. It amazes me how this is being "spun" every which way to Sunday, for everyone's political agendas.

          • Bobbie says:

            exploited maybe but spun? there's no just reason to favor private industries by government who's funded by everyone's money with an extra cut everywhere they unfairly, needlessly nosy on in! what intent of congress but to take a cut!? constitutional? read it again! sounds more like abuse of the constitution!

    5. thorleywinston says:

      Wait, isn't a trivially small flat tax on consumption exactly what conservative fiscal policy calls for? The government must be funded; we can either tax income & capital gains, or we can tax consumption, and we can either have progressive or flat taxation. The "Christmas tree tax" taxes consumption, and it's flat. How is it not a good idea?

      Because fiscal conservatism calls for the government to be as limited as possible in the scope and functions that it carries out. An additional tax to fund a program that the government should not be involved in (i.e. providing marketing services for private industry) isn't "fiscally conservative."

    6. Richard S. says:

      Great let the industry collect the money from it's members, keep the Government out of the loop. They would have a lot more money for their "got a.tree" promotion

    7. Dixon says:

      How did this become an "Obama Administration Tax" "ISSUE" Someone setting a fire and then throwing gasoline on it?

      • @jmerrell81 says:

        My thought exactly! This check-off, which has been in the works for a couple years now, has really nothing to do with Obama and the government. It is not a tax; the Christmas tree growers are paying the 15 cents, not consumers. It is a check-off program, requested by the producers, not initiated by the USDA.

    8. Amanda Little says:

      i refuse to buy nature! Trees whether for christmas or for landscaping interests should not be sold anyway. God gives us free access to nature its not governments right to make us pay for what was given freely.

    9. @jmerrell81 says:

      These are not trees that are cut down from a forest – they are trees that are raised as a crop.

    10. common sense says:

      Why is the government getting involved with this anyway? It's discriminatory toward Christians. The Christmas tree growers should unite and administer this themselves if they want it. I, like many companies, sell widgets, and think the government should charge a surcharge on everyone who buys a widget so that we can advertise more. Or, if they need to charge a surcharge / tax on non-necessities, include all non-necessities (I think that's called sales tax).

    11. Dixon says:

      From Mac Center Web site:

      Now if they could only do the same with Reagan’s milk tax of $0.15 per cwt of milk sold that funds the “Got Milk” program, Reagan’s pork tax of $0.40 per $100 of value that funds the “Pork. The other white meat” campaign, and Reagan’s beef tax of $1 per head that funds the “Beef. It’s whats for dinner” campaign. These taxes, which were authorized yunder the same legislation, have a lot more day-to-day effect on my life

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