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Border tariff removed from tax reform plan


The import tax proposal has officially been removed from the tax reform plan — which is welcome news for retailers across the industry.

On Thursday, congressional and administration leaders announced they would remove the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) from consideration, and announced an outline for comprehensive tax reform. The BAT provision would have ended importers’ ability to deduct the cost of merchandise purchased from other countries.

The tax was initially considered a way to fund tax cuts, but it prompted a fierce backlash from retailers, as well as other import-dependent industries and activists that argued the tax would result in higher prices for consumers. The National Retail Federation estimated this tax could have costed the average family as much as $1,700 annually.

“By removing this costly element of reform, the way has been cleared for swift action on a middle-class tax cut that will put more money in the wallets of the American taxpayer,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Changing our outdated tax code is fundamental if we are to grow our economy, encourage investment and create jobs.”

"Today's announcement is an important victory for American families and businesses who desperately need tax reform and who would have been harmed most by the border adjustment tax," said Sandy Kennedy, president of RILA. "With BAT out, Washington has an opportunity for the first time in more than a generation to pass a tax reform plan that boosts American businesses and family budgets.”

The decision supports retailers, as merchants “pay the highest effective corporate tax rate of any sector of the U.S. economy,” NRF’s Shay said. “Broadening the tax base and lowering the corporate tax rate will allow our industry to compete effectively in the global marketplace, particularly without the additional burden of a border adjustment tax. In the end, our workers and the consumers they serve are the ultimate beneficiaries of this effort.”

Members of NRF, RILA as well as executives from national brands have been diligent and vocal in their efforts to get the tax consideration removed. In May, 20 retail executives traveled to the nation's capitol to voice their opposition to the proposed border adjustment tax (BAT). The delegation included leaders of small businesses, such as Random Harvest from Virginia and Washington, D.C., as well as executives from national retail brands, including Ascena Retail Group, AutoNation, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Dillard’s, Ikea, Levi Strauss, Pier 1 Imports and QVC.

Republicans have reiterated that they are committed to passing comprehensive tax reform that lowers rates without creating a new border tax that would shift the burden to consumers. They also reported they plan to start to work on a joint tax plan through committees by this fall, according to CNBC.
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