Trump calls on Congress to restore tax deductions for business meals, entertainment

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President Trump on Wednesday called on Congress to approve a tax deductibility for corporations spending money at restaurants and on entertainment, saying it would help industries impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

“Congress must pass the old, and very strongly proven, deductibility by businesses on restaurants and entertainment,” Trump tweeted. “This will bring restaurants, and everything related, back – and stronger than ever. Move quickly, they will all be saved!”

Trump first publicly floated the idea during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden on Sunday, saying he would ask Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia to look into reversing a provision of the 2017 tax bill that would create incentives for businesses to spend more money at restaurants. Trump said that he spoke to restaurateur Wolfgang Puck about the impact on the industry earlier that day.

“I think it’ll have a tremendous impact and maybe keep them open,” Trump told reporters Sunday. “Some are closing right now, despite the fact that they could be open in the not-too-distant future, and we expect that. But there are some that aren’t going to be able to get open, and we want to make sure they do.”

The 2017 Republican tax reform that Trump signed into law revoked a provision allowing corporations to make annual tax deductions for entertainment expenses and limited deductions that could be made for meals.

IRS guidance issued in 2018 says that corporations can deduct 50 percent of the cost of meals as long as they aren’t considered “lavish or extravagant.”

Trump’s Wednesday tweet marked a direct appeal to Congress, which is currently on recess amid the coronavirus outbreak and is not expected to return until late April, to pass a measure changing the 2017 provision.

Trump signed a bipartisan $2 trillion emergency relief package last week aimed at helping American workers and businesses adversely impacted by the virus, which has forced businesses across the country to close and lay off workers.

The public health crisis has been especially damaging to the hospitality industry, as governors across the country have ordered nonessential businesses in their states closed and urged citizens to avoid restaurants and bars. Some restaurants have shifted operations to allow for takeout or delivery service.

The White House on Tuesday urged Americans to avoid public places, limit in-person gatherings to 10 people or less, and refrain from nonessential travel for the next 30 days as officials predicted that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from the virus even with mitigation measures in place.

Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump Eugene Scalia Steven Mnuchin
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