Christmas spirit almost just got a little more expensive.
A new 15-cent charge on Christmas trees was scheduled to be imposed at nurseries around the country, aiming to promote the sale of live trees.
However a White House official told NBC news that implementation of the program will be delayed and revisited another time.
An order announced Tuesday by the US Department of Agriculture would support advertisement of the home-grown Christmas trees, which have declined in sales dramatically. Artificial tree purchases, on the other hand, grew from 9.8 million in 2003 to 17.4 million in 2007, the Federal Register reports.
Competition from abroad has also impacted fresh tree sales, the report said, so the tax would only support domestic growers.
The charges would be pooled into a Christmas Tree Promotion Board, which would administer promotion, research and information on tree sales. They hope to improve the image of the fresh Christmas tree so that people continually buy the trees from American growers, instead of just using an artificial tree every year.
Similar marketing efforts for Christmas trees have proved successful in the past. The USDA said a voluntary marketing campaign helped sales to grow by 9 million trees from 2002 to 2007.The government has backed similar promotions, such as the "Beef. It's what's for dinner" commercials.
However some criticized the tax as a bah-humbug approach to Christmas. David S. Addington of the Heritage Foundation said in a blog post that the Obama Administration is overstepping its power to impose the tax.
“The economy is barely growing and nine percent of the American people have no jobs. Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do? And, by the way, the American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn't need any help from the government,” Addington wrote in his statement.