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O Christmas Tree Tax! O Christmas Tree Tax! Much pleasure thou can't give me!
The Christmas tree industry is taxing itself. Or shall we say, it is passing a 15-cent self-imposed tax onto consumers. And all with the government's approval.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA) has created a new industry-funded Christmas tree promotion program, which places a 15-cent tax on each produced or imported tree.
The money will be used improve the public's perception of real, live, trees.
If you're not a tree farmer, you're probably scratching your head (this blogger was). Why is the government involved in a self-imposed tax?
Forced participation. If the industry created a private marketing board, not everyone would participate. But non-participants would still benefit from the board's generic Christmas tree promotions.
This, of course, is where the government and its official Christmas tree tax come in. The Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996 gives the Agricultural Marketing Service the ability to engage in the promotion of generic agricultural commodities.
Milk and corn ads should come to mind.
By regulating marketing funds and created a 12-member board, the USDA is able to ensure that the money is used fairly and to promote the industry nationwide.
If it still seems a little absurd, go ahead and blame the industry. Growers in 19 states lobbied for the Christmas tree tax and marketing board after seeing a drop in live tree sales, reports the Chicago Tribune. They think it's the best way to present a "favorable image of Christmas trees to the general public."