Retailers Push Congress to Address Tax Law Snafu

The apparent error means businesses can’t immediately write off full renovation costs.

May 17, 2019

WASHINGTON – Retailers are pressing Congress to make right an error in the 2017 tax law that’s harming their businesses, The Hill reports. The snafu centers on language that makes restaurants and stores write off the costs of renovations over 39 years, rather than immediately, as lawmakers wanted. The issue only affects stores that don’t sell fuel.

The Senate and House are considering bills that would fix the retail glitch, but businesses want quicker action.

“We’ve already seen a slowdown in planned renovations and upgrades at impacted convenience retailers,” said Jon Taets, NACS director of government relations. “There is little to no opposition to fixing this mistake, and Congress should act quickly to get the economic benefits of these renovations moving again.”  

On Monday, more than 800 restaurants, grocers, retailers and trade groups, including NACS, sent Congress a letter asking legislators to address the issue faster. The current tax law significantly lengthens the time in which restaurants and retailers have to deduct facility renovation costs from 15 years to 39 years.

Republicans had a “full expensing” provision in the law that would let companies immediately write off the entire costs of capital investments as a way to boost business investment and economic growth. But the legislation text didn’t put a depreciation timeline for qualified improvement property, which meant it could be fully expensed right away.