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This holiday used to be a day to do something special for the one you love — today it is a moneymaking event for retailers and the government alike.  The National Retail Federation hosts an annual Valentine’s Day Survey that focuses on what people will spend their money on for the holiday.  According to the survey, the average person celebrating Valentine’s Day was expected to spend $142 on candy, flowers, apparel, and more, up from $134 last year. Total spending was expected to reach $18.9 billion.

Most planned to buy candy, while only one out of every five planned to buy jewelry this year.  A little less than half of those celebrating the holiday planned to purchase flowers, and more than one-third planned for a special night out, such as going to the movies and eating at a restaurant.  An increasingly expensive holiday, many are still looking for ways to cut costs.  The survey also found that discount and department stores were expected to be among the most visited locations for those looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

All of the things that are popular to buy for Valentine’s Day tend to be pricy, but that’s not solely due to the demand of the holiday.  A silent third party, the government, has taxes that target these romantic items and are also to blame for driving up prices.  Take a look at this breakdown of the main purchases made during the Valentine’s holiday from Americans for Tax Reform.

  • Roses & a Valentine: A must have. An estimated 233 million roses are grown for Valentine’s Day, and consumers will spend $1.9 billion on flowers. Cards will accompany the flowers: 145 million Valentine’s cards will be purchased for the occasion. The government will cash in $1.1 billion off the flowers and cards

  • Dinner: For three? $3.5 billion is spent dining out on Valentine’s Day, but 31% of the cost of the bill comes from government taxes.

  • Wine: If you’ve been saving a nice bottle of wine for the occasion, be sure to savor it — 33% of this purchase is due to government costs.  

  • Chocolate: Consumers will spend nearly $1.3 billion on chocolate. Of this, 31% will be paid to the government. Your dessert just got a little less sweet.

  • Jewelry: In 2013, 6 million people expected or planned a marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day. This year, it is projected that $3.9 billion will be spent on diamonds, gold, and silver. The government drives of the price of your most important purchase, making up 36% of the cost, so choose wisely.

  • Cell Phones: If you’re in a long-distance relationship and can’t travel to see your sweetheart, hopefully you’ll still be able to give them a call. You might want to keep it short and sweet: Uncle Sam will be on the line as well, and he’ll be responsible for 40% of the cost of your bill.

  • Long Distance: Making a surprise visit to your long-distance loved one? Whether you’re driving or flying, you won’t be alone. 45% of the cost of gasoline is the result of government taxation, while other taxes and fees account for 44% of the cost of airfare.

And if this isn’t the dessert you were looking for on your romantic holiday, North Carolina adds to these taxes too.  Had a beer or wine with your dinner?  North Carolina imposes an additional 62 cents and $1 dollar excise tax per gallon on these drinks, respectively.  Drove to a special getaway for the weekend?  North Carolina’s gas tax is 37.5 cents per gallon and contributed to your cost at the pump (unless you went to South Carolina).  And when you found that special place to spend the night, you paid state and local sales tax as well as the town’s occupancy tax, which can increase the cost of overnight lodging up to 13 percent (4.75% state, 2.25% county, 6% city).  Oh, and if you ate dinner in Cumberland, Dare, Mecklenburg, Wake or the town of Hillsborough, you probably saw a 1 percent meals tax added onto your bill as well.

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