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Americans for Tax Reform Foundation

How the Government Stole Christmas


Posted by Americans for Tax Reform Foundation on Friday, December 9th, 2011, 10:00 AM PERMALINK


The holidays are a season for giving and spending time with loved ones. However, this year taxpayers will be adding Uncle Sam to their Christmas list. Of an identified $10.72 billion of holiday spending, 43.36 percent of the price Americans pay to celebrate Christmas is due to government taxes, fees and other costs.

This season, not even Christmas trees are safe from the government grinch. The Obama Administration has applied a 15 cent tax on each Christmas tree sold, meaning government now composes 31.19 percent of the price of an average 40 dollar Christmas tree. While implementation of the tax has been delayed, this is a particularly naughty idea to fuel increased government spending. For the $1.15 billion in sales generated by the Christmas tree industry employing over 100,000 workers, the Christmas tax is another measure threatening Americans jobs—so much for yuletide cheer.

If you are one of the 93 percent holiday revelers traveling this season, you will pay $69.65 in gas taxes for the average $152.47 round-trip trip—45.68 percent of the cost of the trip. Taking a rental is another convenient option, but 38.77 percent of your car’s rental cost is due to taxation, particularly from state and local governments.

Choose to fly to visit friends and family and 42.47 percent of your trip is made up of government costs. If you retreat from your in-laws to a hotel, remember that 39.39 percent of the cost of your stay is funneled back to the government. For Christmas 2011, the government will stuff its stocking with $3.79 billion in traveling taxes.

With Christmas parties, eggnog and relatives abound, holiday revelers enjoy an estimated $992 million in alcoholic beverages to celebrate the season. Savor the next your mug of eggnog, because 56.31 percent of the price is taxes. Government guzzles 44.33 percent of your seasonal beer and drives up the price of your glass of wine at Christmas dinner by 32.77 percent. Sipping a soft drink won’t let you escape frosty government fees—27.98 percent, or $61 million in taxes, is attached to the cost of soda.

When Santa comes down the chimney this year, he’ll have to save room in his sack for Uncle Sam’s gifts. Government gets $21 billion of a cumulative $69.1 billion spent on presents, consuming nearly a third of Christmas gift-giving. All told, the government collects $25.9 billion in new revenues over the holiday season.  Bah humbug, indeed.

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Trick or Treat? The Frightening Cost of Halloween Courtesy of Government


Posted by Americans for Tax Reform Foundation on Thursday, October 27th, 2011, 10:41 AM PERMALINK


Each year, parents spend $1 billion on kid costumes for Halloween. On average, for the estimated 41 million trick-or-treaters, each kid wears a costume costing almost $25 – a hefty sum for parents who know this annual investment is only going to get a few hours of use. Expensive costumes aren’t just driven by the rising costs of production, but also taxes.


There is a heavy price to pay for turning your child into their favorite storybook character or scary monster for one night – kids’ costumes are almost all made of heavily taxed synthetic fibers. On top of the state sales tax paid at the register, the government increases the cost of buying these costumes by imposing a 17 percent tariff on many of these imported costumes. Businesses not only have to absorb these costs, but also those imposed  by income taxes, payroll taxes, corporate taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, workmen’s compensation taxes, and other payments to federal, state, and local forms of government.  

When all is said and done, government taxes compose 47.82 percent of the cost of the average kid’s costume, $11.66 of the average price.
But the government’s tricks don’t end there. The Halloween season brings with it $2 billion in candy purchases. Due to excise taxation on sweets in addition to the burden of taxes placed on the confectionery industry, the government takes a 30.81 percent bite out of the average trick-or-treaters’ candy haul.

Altogether, the cost of celebrating our scariest holiday is made all the more frightening by the costs imposed by government: hidden taxes and other costs constitute 40.91 percent of your Halloween celebration.

This amounts to a burden of $688 million or $16.80 per kid. The remaining $1.3 billion of candy not distributed during trick-or-treating represents another $406 million in taxes. Finally, after including taxes on adults for decorations and costumes the total Halloween tax bite comes to $2.7 billion.

And the cost is even higher if you attend a spooky party with alcoholic beverages, as wine, distilled spirits and beer are all subject to more hidden taxes. Going out to dinner to instead of trick-or-treating also carries higher government costs, while if you have to drive your kids to trick-or-treat, the government bite of gasoline also takes a hefty bite out of your wallet.

So if you’re still searching for that bone-chilling costume idea, we suggest you dress up as Uncle Sam.

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