Christmas Tree Tax

Yes, its stupid, but perhaps for a different reason than has been mentioned.  The tax is on producers, and is meant to fund a promotion and marketing campaign.  Really.  Because Christian families in the US might forget to buy a tree this year if the government did not remind them.  Seriously, do any of these folks have kids.  "Dad, can we get the tree today, can we, can we, please?"

By the way, this kind of taxation authority that bypasses Congress is actually fairly often used by the Department of Agriculture.   If you see random TV ads for avocados or almonds, you probably are seeing one of these government marketing forced-cooperatives.

  • Johnathan

    What's interesting is the issue commented on indirectly in the last paragraph of this article:

    http://t.co/S6zqyMm6

    These types of State interventions invariably help to entrench larger businesses at the expense of smaller ones. Witness that large growers lobbied *for* the tax, while small growers were *against* it.

  • http://coyoteblog allen

    Let's see if I have this straight. The same government who bans prayer in school
    and any Christian displays on Federal property wants to profit from the religious
    observance of Christmas? What am I missing here? I never cease to be amazed by
    hypocrites and money changers. God save us all!

  • joe buzz

    so let me guess..."holiday" trees were not going to be taxed? ;-/

  • Orion

    Well I had some thoughts on this earlier today. First I figured, what the heck? $0.15 per tree on the sellers? That is stupid. It's not much money but the logistics of reporting and collection were going to make it much harder for the guy who grows a few trees in his backyard (A very common thing in the northeast). This was asked for by at least some part of the Christmas tree industry and I figured this would be help the bigger producers at the expense of the little guys. Then I read more-anyone who sells less than 500 trees per year is exempt so that at least partially nullifies that argument. So now, meh, I think this is a non story. An industry group is giving money, at least semi-voluntarily, for their own advertising. So be it.

  • Johnathan

    @Orion: If the "industry group" was for it, why did they have to get the government involved, instead of just paying for it directly?

  • smurfy

    Got milked?

  • CT_Yankee

    Interesting approach. Save the trees by pretending to promote their sales, while doing it with a nasty new tax campaign that will surely end up stirring up public anger and then channeling it into a boycott of live Christmas trees. Diabolical.

  • Daublin

    Johnathan, Orion,

    It makes perfect sense if you view such regulations as part of a government-backed cabal. The companies can't simply make agreements directly with each other due to anti-trust action. However, if they all go to the government together and ask for the same regulation to apply to all of them, it's very hard for the government to say no.

  • Johnathan

    @Daublin That's an interesting perspective I hadn't considered before. Thanks for the insight.

  • ElamBend

    I'm sorry everyone this is really my fault. I've been using the same $15 fake Christmas tree for the last 8 years. I guess I just hadn't heard about those natural trees

  • http://blog.horton-brasses.com orion

    @Duablin and Jonathan. Valid points. I can see why individual producers couldn't pay for national advertising because of the scale. But are there not voluntary industry associations that collect dues that can? Or is that illegal under anti-trust laws? If it is illegal under anti-trust then it begs the question: Why? If all the companies in my industry, or any other, wanted to create a trade group to advertise the industry as a whole then I don't see an issue with it. Nor do I see how it violates trust laws. Nor do I have a good understanding of the trust laws on the whole.

  • Mark 2

    Apparently, all the big producers pay the tax and the money is used to build up the market share of the big producers, at the expense of the mom and pop tree farms and stands.

    So the goverment is trying to stifle competition.

  • Judge Fredd

    But it's a GREEN initiative!

    Wait, wrong green?

  • Bob Koss

    If I buy a fir, pine or whatever type tree, who determines whether it is for use as a Christmas tree? Will the fee be imposed only during the Christmas season? Any size/use restrictions preventing loggers or lumber mills from having to pay the fee?

    Sounds to me like just another nose under the tent fee which would be ripe for expansion.

  • DrTorch

    Interesting perspective on the anti-trust issues. Good to hear that.

    My thoughts on new gov't boards:

    You can do so much more when a gov't board is set up. Suddenly a $0.15 tax isn't enough, so it takes even more money.

    Then there will be the inevitable increase in scope, the board will be directed to look into the green benefits of Christmas trees...maybe set up some research projects or mandate recycling efforts (and their costs). And hey, wouldn't a slush fund be nice to use to reward loyalists, like... newspapers (who have a vested interest in trees).

  • Steve W from Ford

    Actually agricultural producers are not subject to anti trust regulations and they can collude to their hearts content. They are one of the few groups specifically excluded from antitrust regs. The "Christmas Tree tax" is, I am sure, allowed under the various ag marketing rules in which the different producer associations can REQUEST that such a marketing fee be imposed on all producers. There is then an election held that requires a certain majority percentage for approval. If approved by the growers themselves, the marketing fee becomes binding on all producers and is assessed on a per unit of sales basis. This is designed to prevent free riders and is generally supported by most farmers. Nothing too nefarious about it.

  • Paul

    If you think this is nuts, try being a foreigner. We are going to be charged a $5 entry fee, the funds collected to be used (wait for it!) to "promote tourism".

  • WarpKat

    OMG. IT'S NOT A TAX. It's a FEE wanted by the CHRISTMAS TREE INDUSTRY.

    Good grief, people - READ MORE THAN THE FIRST SENTENCE OF AN ARTICLE!

    Besides, they're not going to impose the fee ASKED FOR BY THE INDUSTRY this year.

    http://www.mywesttexas.com/editors_picks/article_b31aa30c-0b35-11e1-9096-001cc4c03286.html
    http://dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com/dont_mess_with_taxes/2011/11/christmas-tree-fee-its-not-a-tax-on-hold.html

    Jesus Christ on a cracker. No wonder sane people think you guys are all blooming idiots and nutjobs.

  • Shadowvly

    Hey WarpKat, a fee, a tax? There is no difference. A fee is a tax. There are plenty of non-profit tree grower's associations on both national and state levels that promote the industry. If tree producers want to collectively assess themselves then by all means they should do it. But why does the USDA need to be involved? Can't the tree growers get by without government coordination and assistance that is subsidized by the US taxpayer? The competition tree growers are encountering is not from unfairly imported Christmas trees. Consumers are simply choosing a product they deem more desirable - artificial trees.

  • WarpKat

    @Shadowvly: It helps to research (Google is your FRIEND) and read whole articles (instead of shooting by the hip on just the article's title alone) because people (mostly Conservatives) miss tidbits like THIS and end up twisting the truth:

    http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2011/11/usda_yanks_christmas_tree_fees.html

    USDA promotion and research boards are common, used by at least 18 other agricultural commodities. The Christmas tree industry petitioned to set up its own promotional program after years of concern about lost market share to the artificial Christmas tree industry. The National Christmas Tree Association said a majority of growers favored the petition.

    Industries get the Agriculture Department involved to make sure the effort to promote their product is fair and unified. If the USDA eventually approves it, a board of industry representatives will make decisions on how to promote and research Christmas trees.

    Regardless of whether you think it's a tax or a fee, the Administration (regardless of who is president), did not start it, but they certainly heard the outcry and put a halt to it. If anything, we should be happy the Administration (again, regardless of who is president), stepped in and thought twice about allowing the Christmas tree industry levy the fee which would have been paid by the customer.

    Yes, you are correct: a fake tree is often more desirable - I have one. I love it.

    But to outright say it's the Administration's fault...c'mon. Even YOU have to come out and say it was totally stupid before people knew the full story.

    Here's some more help:

    http://www.christmastree.org/11_PR7.pdf