Retailers urge Congress to fix tax bill error delaying investment

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation urged Congress to support bipartisan legislation introduced today in the House that would fix a drafting error in the tax reform law that took effect in 2018. The error relating to depreciation rules is delaying millions of dollars in job-creating investments in stores and restaurants across the country.

“After more than a year of uncertainty for retailers and restaurants caused by this tax bill error, we’re pleased to see momentum building in the House and Senate to finally resolve this issue."

NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French

“After more than a year of uncertainty for retailers and restaurants caused by this tax bill error, we’re pleased to see momentum building in the House and Senate to finally resolve this issue,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. “This unintended error is forcing many businesses to delay remodeling projects and decline opportunities to purchase or lease new retail locations that require improvements. Ultimately, that means fewer jobs and less economic development in local communities. We thank Representatives Panetta and Walorski for their bipartisan work to restore job-creating investments that have been put on hold, and we urge all members of the House to join them.”

NRF sent a letter to members of the House urging them to cosponsor the Restoring Investment in Improvements Act and “allow retailers and restaurants to move forward with investments in their stores.” Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate earlier this month.

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, remodeling and other improvements to stores or other buildings were supposed to be fully depreciated in the first year the work is done. Instead, a mistake in the legislative language requires that depreciation be done over 39 years. As a result, companies can only deduct 2.5 percent of costs in the year the investment is made and must deduct the remaining 97.5 percent over the following 38 years.

If not for the drafting error, the critical tax provision could be creating jobs for construction workers, boosting orders for materials and supplies, helping the real estate industry, revitalizing troubled shopping malls and struggling downtowns and creating long-term employment for countless retail and restaurant workers.

The Restoring Investment in Improvements Act, introduced by Representatives Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., and Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., would correct the error in the tax law and allow retailers and restaurants to write off the full cost of improvement projects immediately, dramatically reducing the expense and making it far more likely that the projects — and the economic benefits that come with them — would go forward.

About NRF

The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.