U.S. Department of Agriculture Plans to Levy a Tax on Christmas Trees-Truth! But Postponed!
Summary of eRumor:
The Department of Agriculture announced plans to charge Christmas tree growers a 15 cent tax per fresh cut tree.
According to a November 09, 2011 ABC News report the proposed tax was originally requested by the National Christmas Tree Association back in 2009 but the Obama Administration has no plans on imposing the tax in 2011.
News of this tax proposal went viral on the Internet after an announcement in the Federal Register that said that the Secretary of Agriculture would appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board for the purpose of launching 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.” This would also “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States.”
The ABC News article said, “The National Christmas Tree Association says the fee would fund a program ‘designed to benefit the industry and will be funded by the growers’ and is ‘not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree.'”
White House spokesman Matt Lehrich who told ABC , “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.”
The impending tariff may not be completely out of the woods yet as Lehrich also said, “USDA is going to delay implementation and revisit this action.”
President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees—the Christmas Tree Tax—to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.
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.