Taxpayer's Tab: Christmas Tree Tax: Round 2

Vol. 4 Issue 20 June 6, 2013

Christmas Tree Tax: Round 2


In 2011, reports surfaced that the Obama administration was seeking to impose a 15-cent federal tax on Christmas trees. It turned out that the tax was actually sought by the Christmas tree industry through a regulatory process established by Republican lawmakers in the 104th Congress. Now this year, there are new headlines that House Republicans have revived the Christmas tree tax in a farm bill (some of the coverage is still attributing the tax to President Obama even though, as noted, it was being sought by the industry through a statutory process).

The proposal would create a new Christmas tree marketing and research organization. The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 permits producers of agricultural commodities to create what are known as research and promotion programs, also known as checkoffs. These are analogous to unions: producers pay "dues" to the checkoff which works to fund research and advertising efforts on behalf of the industry represented. Board members are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture who also has authority to enforce dues-payment.

Because the dues are government-coerced, they are essentially taxes passed on to consumers. There are currently 19 checkoffs: beef, blueberries, cotton, dairy products, eggs, fluid milk, hass avocados, honey packers and importers, lamb, mangos, mushrooms, peanuts, popcorn, pork, potatoes, softwood lumber, sorghum, soybeans, and watermelons.

There are also proposals in the 113th Congress to establish checkoff programs for other commodities. Representative Brett Guthrie (KY) and Senator Bill Nelson (FL) have reintroduced  H.R. 1563 and S. 429  to create a checkoff for producers of concrete masonry under the authority of the Commerce Department. Producers and importers of concrete masonry would initially be assessed $0.01 per concrete masonry unit sold in the United States. The Board will have authority to change the assessment rate, but it can be no higher than $0.05 per unit.

Another pair of bills (H.R. 1985, introduced by Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ), and S. 913 by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)), entitled the Oilheat Efficiency, Renewable Fuel Research and Jobs Training Act of 2013, would re-authorize a similar program called the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA), originally established in 2000. (In 2010 the Government Accountability Office reported on  NORA and a related entity established via law, the Propane Education & Research Council.)

Photo Credit: Fox News

BillTally Highlight: A Look at State Delegations

Last week's release of NTUF's BillTally report shed light on what legislators are doing in Washington, D.C. The report also prompted a flurry of responses from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, reporters in state capitols, and grassroots taxpayers. Our analysis of the proposed spending of the 112th Congress found that, if all the bills that were introduced had been enacted into law, taxpayers would see the federal budget grow by $1.3 trillion each year. Even with this significant increase in expenditures, legislators had the chance to roll back current spending by $1.2 trillion if they had enacted all of their savings proposals.

The full report is available here and can also be downloaded as a PDF here.

Investor’s Business Daily editorialized the findings on Monday, saying that "[a]ll the talk of massive deficits and the need to cut spending apparently hasn’t sunk in on Capitol Hill, at least not among Democratic lawmakers who continue to push massive amounts of new spending." For some additional points of analysis, NTUF researchers have compiled data on how selected state delegations would influence spending.

Largest and Smallest Proposed Net Spending Agenda by Full State Delegation, 112th Congress

BT112-3 Map v2

10 States with Largest Average Cut Agendas

  • Range of Net Agendas: $137.9 billion to $346.8 billion (annualized)
  • Average Number of Delegates: 5.9
  • Largest Delegation Average Cut Agenda: South Carolina
  • Tenth Largest Delegation Average Cut Agenda: Nevada

10 Delegations with Largest Average Increase Agendas

  • Range of Net Agendas: $158.6 billion to $818.8 billion (annualized)
  • Average Number of Delegates: 17.6
  • Largest Delegation Average Increase Agenda: Vermont
  • Tenth Largest Delegation Average Increase Agenda: Ohio

To see your elected officials' individual line-by-line BillTally report, search our database. You can also search by your entire state delegation.

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation has detailed state delegation reports on the following states and will release more reports in the coming weeks: Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. Next week, NTUF plans to release summaries for Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, and North Carolina.

Support NTUF

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation is able to produce timely reports and analysis for policymakers and taxpayers with the help and support of foundations, small businesses, and Americans -- like you -- who wish to stay informed of their government's spending.

With donations from Tab subscribers and members, NTUF will be able to continue to inform taxpayers about entitlement reform, the federal budget, and proposed legislation.

Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to NTUF.



Missed an Issue?

Issue 19 - May 29
BillTally Report: More Budget Cuts But Greater Divide

Issue 18 - May 16
Largest and Smallest Proposals So Far

Issue 17 - May 10
Spotlight: Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act

Issue 16 - May 3
Medical Innovation Prize Fund Act

Issue 15 - Apr 25
Trash Reduction Act

About NTUF

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation is a research and educational organization dedicated solely to helping citizens of all generations understand how tax policies, spending programs, and regulations at all levels affect them now and in the future. Through NTUF's timely information, analysis, and commentary, we're empowering citizens to actively engage in the fiscal policy debate and hold public officials accountable every day.

NTUF is a 501(c)(3) research and education organization. Donations are deductible for personal income tax purposes. Please make a donation today to help further NTUF's mission of research and education!

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to aid or hinder the passage of any legislation or as a comment on any Member's fitness to serve.



108 N. Alfred St. Alexandria, VA 22314