Obama administration proposes 15-cent Christmas tree tax

The Obama administration is proposing a new tax on Christmas trees to fund a board promoting the holiday trees. 

The Christmas Tree Promotion Board would be funded by a new 15 cent per tree tax on large-scale producers of Christmas trees. A group of Christmas tree producers and importers worried about the skyrocketing use of artificial trees proposed the new board. 

Under the proposal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the board would seek to revitalize the marketing and image of fresh-cut Christmas trees, which have been overwhelmed in recent years by sales of artificial trees. The Christmas Tree Checkoff Task Force, the group of producers and importers who suggested the board, said the market share of artificial trees increased 655 percent from 1965 to 2008. 

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According to the agency, the new board is designed to be an "industry-funded promotion, research and information program for fresh-cut Christmas trees." Board members would be nominated from within the industry. 

Past marketing efforts have resulted in an uptick in fresh tree sales, but such "voluntary marketing program[s] suffer from a lack of funding," according to the agency.

"Producers and importers that domestically produce or import less than 500 Christmas trees annually would be exempt from the assessment," according to the proposal, which is listed in the Nov. 8 Federal Register. Small-scale producers, along with organic producers, would have to submit an exception request to the board.

The proposed tax is authorized under the 1996 Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act that authorizes the agency "to establish agricultural commodity research and promotion orders."