The Agriculture department has announced a new 15 cent tax that will be added to all Christmas tree purchases this year. The charge – named the Christmas Tree Tax – will apply to all sales of fresh Christmas trees by vendors selling more than 500 trees per year.
The tax will fund a Christmas Tree Promotion Board in order “to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry,” which will be announced by the Secretary of Agriculture in due course.
By taxing themselves, growers will raise $2 million a year for ads promoting the merits of real, live trees- as opposed to artificial trees, which are in competition for sales.
The Christmas Tree Promotion Board, which was proposed earlier this year, is actually 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.
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."
The tax has actually been in the works since the Bush administration when the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) set up a task force recommending a fee in response to declining sales of fresh trees.
While the announcement of the tax is not directly an NCTA proposal, the body says it supports the fee and believes it will be beneficial to the industry.
The NCTA has had a hand in supplying the official White House Christmas tree this year after hosting its national annual contest.