Most people know that Valentine’s Day is the #1 holiday for rose sales in the United States. Demand for many other gift items surges too. Sadly, Americans are paying extra taxes on roses and many other gift items because Congress has failed to renew GSP.
Let’s look first at flowers. Last Friday, U.S. Customs and Border Protections reported 1.15 billion cut flower inspections this season – and expects to surpass the 1.23 billion inspections in 2022. Lapsed GSP adds an extra 6.8% tax to all the roses from Ecuador, the #2 rose supplier to the United States.
These costs add up. The U.S. imported $600 million in Ecuadorian roses in 2021-2022, resulting in $40 million in new import taxes because GSP was lapsed. The U.S. imported another $250 million of other Ecuadorian flowers (e.g., carnations, lilies, etc.), resulting in $16 million more in unnecessary tariffs. Those figures likely grew significantly in the last 6 weeks due to the Valentine’s Day demand surge.
And it’s not just flowers that are more expensive at Valentine’s Day because Congress failed to renew GSP. Since GSP expired, American companies have paid *at least*:
- $250 million in extra taxes on handbags
- $100 million in extra taxes on jewelry
- $16 million in extra taxes on candies
These don’t account for incidentals: one GSP Coalition member is paying extra taxes on the plastic film used to wrap flower bouquets. Shopping bags – plastics and cloth and man-made fibers – also face higher tariffs due to GSP expiration.
They also don’t account for systemic U.S. issues that impose higher tariffs on women’s clothing and the poor, as recently highlighted by Progressive Policy Institute’s Ed Gresser. These products are largely excluded from GSP by statute, yet another way that Congress’ decisions – past and present – raise costs on Valentine’s Day.
Nobody loves paying unnecessary taxes, especially on Valentine’s Day. Congress should help spread the love by renewing GSP as soon as possible.