Could Christmas trees be exempt from sales tax in 2017?

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With just days away from Christmas, trees picked from local farms could be cheaper come 2017.
 
Most trees currently include a six percent sales tax, but a proposed bill called the “Don’t Be a Scrooge” bill, which is sponsored by Representative Seth Grove, would get rid of that next year. 
 
The tax exemption may not only helps customers, but it might even help farm owners and people selling the trees. 
 
“I think it would be a great idea,” Rick Koontz, owner of Sellers Farm said. “Quite honestly, it’s a price I pay on the back end for each retail tree that I sell. I basically absorb that cost and then I report back to the state of Pennsylvania the amount of retail trees I sell and then of course, I have to pay a six percent sales tax on each one.”
 
Rick Koontz is the third in his family to run Sellers Tree Farm, which sells both wholesale and resale trees.  He has nearly 30,000 trees.
 
“The Christmas tree business is up and down like the economy,” Koontz said. “It has slowly come back.”
 
Koontz is part of the National Christmas Tree Association, which found consumers spent an average of $51 on more than 25 million trees in 2015.
 
A $51 tree would mean $3 in state sales tax.  For Koontz, an extra $3 or $4 could change things.
 
“Increasing costs for me: the price of fuel, the price of fertilizer, which has skyrocketed,” Koontz said. “Fertilizer is made with fuel. Farming is farming.”
 
Christmas trees are one of the last agricultural products sold with a sales tax and Koontz said you can’t put a price on tradition.
 
“People come, bring their families, their pet, walk all through the farm, cut a tree down themselves, make a memory,” Koontz said. “So I sell more than just the tree. I sell the experience.”

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