Tax Provision Tucked Into House Version of Farm Bill

June 5, 2013 | Roger McEowen

In late 2010, the Obama Administration issued a proposed rule (75 Fed. Reg. 68512, Nov. 8, 2010) that would have established a Christmas Tree Promotion, Research, and Information Order.  The proposed rule was finalized a year later.  The rule imposed a 15 cent "assessment" (tax) on fresh cut Christmas trees, ultimately rising to 20 cents per tree.  However, nine days after the rule was finalized the Obama Administration stayed the final rule due to a large amount of opposition to the tax as expressed in comments submitted during the notice and comment period.  We know that this type of fee or assessment is reallly a tax because of how the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case involving the the health care act and the individual mandate last year.  Once a fee or assessment is mandatory and is enforced by the government, it is a tax according to the Court.

Now, the House Ag Committee has resurrected the Christmas tree tax in its version of the Farm Bill that it is currently working on.  The provision is in an amendment to the House's Farm Bill - HR 1497.