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NRF Urges Swift Passage of Tax Extenders Bill

U.S. Capitol at Dusk

A bill that would extend a series of expired or expiring tax breaks was unveiled by U.S. lawmakers late on Tuesday and could be passed by both the House and the Senate as soon as Thursday.

The measure, called the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH), would make permanent a number of temporary tax provisions for both businesses and individuals and extend others through 2016 or 2019.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) on Wednesday urged Congress to approve the legislation, calling it “an important move toward badly needed comprehensive tax reform.”

“H.R. 2029 is the first step toward fundamental tax reform that our economy so urgently needs,” David French, the NRF’s senior vice president for government relations, said in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and all other members of the House. “We hope that H.R. 2029 will be a stepping stone to more fundamental tax reform that provides U.S. businesses with a more competitive tax rate, increases investment in the United States, increases wages in the United States and helps the consumer.”

He added that PATH should be passed “to provide retailers and myriad other industries the certainty needed to create critically needed jobs in this recovering economy and to provide the critical ‘path’ to tax reform.”

Lawmakers negotiated the tax package alongside a $1.15 trillion spending bill. If passed, the so-called “extenders bill” would revive more than 50 provisions that expired at the end of 2014 and break the cycle of renewing tax breaks a year or two at a time or allowing them to lapse.

French noted that by sorting out which of the provisions should be made permanent, which would be extended for a short time and which would be phased out, the bill establishes groundwork “so that a final determination on their continuance will be made when Congress finally debates comprehensive tax reform.”

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For instance, PATH would make permanent a provision that allows retailers to depreciate remodeling and other improvements to their stores over 15 years, rather than the previous standard of 39 years. The NRF said that this would help keep stores profitable and attractive to consumers as well as create tens of thousands of construction jobs each year.

Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the bill would grow the U.S. economy by delivering permanent tax relief to employers, making it easier to plan ahead, hire new workers and invest in their communities.

But House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) has opposed the bill, pointing out, “Tax cuts, like everything else, have a cost—and if we fail to pay for them, we will once again increase deficits and debt, which in turn will be used as the catalyst for another round of cuts to the very programs I believe are vital to our economy and to our people.”