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Retailers Lobby Congress, the Public Over Border Adjustment Tax

The border adjustment tax is about to become famous—or notorious, if retailers have their way.

While the border adjustment tax has become a familiar concept among industry types over the last few weeks, the average consumer has yet to become acquainted with the idea. That’s about to change.

The National Retail Federation has taken its opposition public with a slate of television, print and digital ads alerting consumers to the $1,700 it says the BAT will cost American families annually.

The commercial is produced in an informercial style, with actors depicting rich consumers hefting bags of money, while a high-energy pitchman proffers a quick, easy solution to their affluence: the BAT tax.

The ad spots will reach conservatives and liberals alike, airing on “FOX and Friends” as well as “Saturday Night Live.” Each ad, which includes the phrase “You name it, BAT will tax it,” also encourages viewers to contact their Congress member.

“American consumers are being asked to foot the bill for a new $1 trillion tax giveaway for multinational companies, and this campaign will make sure those paying for it know it,” NRF senior vice president for Government Relations David French said.

French says while the NRF supports tax reform, there needs to be an option that doesn’t hurt consumers by “penalizing Americans by adding a tax on clothing, food, gas and other necessities.” The NRF says the BAT also threatens the retail sector, which represents 1 in 4 jobs in the U.S.

The BAT has American corporations divided among those that believe it will be great for exports and the economy as a whole and those that are sure it will drive up costs on imports, leaving companies with no choice other than to hike retail prices. The border adjustment tax is part of the Republican’s “A Better Way” tax overhaul proposal, which was introduced over the summer. The plan is to reduce corporate income taxes from 35% to 20%, while taxing imported goods, and exempting exports. With the quantity of consumer goods that are made overseas, opponents to the plan say the tax will be crippling.

The NRF isn’t the only group mobilizing support against the BAT.

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The Americans for Affordable Products, a coalition of businesses which sprung up specifically to oppose the Republican plan, released a letter to Congressional leaders today.

Taking a page from the American Made Coalition, which issued a letter to Congress last week in support of the BAT, the AAP addressed Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer.

The letter simply states, “The Border Adjustment Tax is not simple or fair.” The AAP urges Congress to drop the “cost of living tax” and consider the impact it would have on the 42 million jobs tied to the retail sector. “We believe that tax reform must proceed without the Border Adjustment Tax in order to ensure the job creation potential of the U.S economy remains vibrant.”

The AAP now counts more than 200 businesses and associations as members.