Barack Obama's $5.6 Billion Valentine's Day Tax

An Americans for Tax Reform report shows the federal tax burden on love.


To all you lovebirds out there, we wish you a happy and healthy Valentine's Day. If it costs you a little more this year than in years past you can thank the federal government—at least that's what the nonpartisan Americans for Tax Reform has determined.

The burden of taxation weighs heavily on at least half the population. According to most reliable estimates, just over half the population pays something to Uncle Sam in the form of income taxes but everyone has to pay the sales taxes and other fees the government has seen fit to impose on the marketplace. Even love.

[Read Washington Whispers: Government is Taxing Your Valentine]

Average per capita spending on Valentine's Day for 2012 is $126.03, ATR reports, up 8 percent over last year and leading, of course, to a bigger tax bite on romance. "Taxpayers are unlucky in love this Valentine's Day. Of an identified $17 billion in Valentine's Day related spending on candy, flowers, dinner, jewelry, greetings cards, clothing, and hotels, government composes 33.14 percent of those costs—approximately $5.6 billion in revenues," the group said in a release.

With the Obama administration clearly intending to force unreproductive health services on everyone through a new federal mandate, one might think the president might also take the initiative to ease the tax burden on love.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Americans spend more than $2.6 billion on chocolates for Valentine's Day, with 30.81 percent of the cost going to the government—and it doesn't end there. "Gold necklaces and diamonds owe 35.82 percent of their price to government taxation," ATR said and, along with the taxes imposed on flowers and greeting cards, another $1.1 billion in revenues is generated for the federal treasury.

It's a humorous way to make a point about the extent to which the federal government levies taxes on so many aspects of ordinary life. When Obama and other liberals talk about the way the middle class is being squeezed, they often forget to mention just how much of that tightening comes from the government itself. On Valentine's Day that amounts to just over a third of what is spent, an absurdly high amount. Clearly the government is just not that into love.

  • Read the U.S. News debate on the flat tax.
  • Check out the U.S. News Economic Intelligence blog.
  • Check out a roundup of editorial cartoons on the economy.