Much to the relief of many retailers, lawmakers have killed a proposal that would have imposed a border adjustment tax on imported goods entering the United States.
Retailers have opposed the tax, arguing that costs would be passed onto consumers as a result.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, with several other government officials—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas,—issued a joint statement on July 27 announcing plans for tax reform but stated they would be abandoning the border adjustment tax.
"While we have debated the pro-growth benefits of border adjustability, we appreciate that there are many unknowns associated with it, and have decided to set this policy aside in order to advance tax reform," the group of legislators said in the joint statement.
The two major national retail associations, which count many retail in-house counsel as members, came out in favor of lawmakers' decision to drop the tax reform provision.
The move to do away with the border adjustment tax came one week after Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the Retail Advocates Summit in Washington, D.C. There he promised that "when it comes to your businesses, our tax plan is going to put American companies, including our retailers, back on a path to jobs and growth and better competitiveness."
"As retail goes, so goes America," Pence said in his speech. "Our administration is focused on the issues that will encourage economic growth, the growth that you'll need to continue to grow and succeed."
The following day, the president of the National Retail Federation sent a letter to Congress urging them to abandon plans for the border adjustment tax.
After Thursday's announcement, NRF president and CEO Matthew 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," he added.
Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association said in a statement that in recent months the association's members have met with President Donald Trump, Pence and 300 members of Congress to discuss concerns about the tax. With the border tax off the table, "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," Kennedy said.
"As the nation's largest private-sector employer, retailers are ready to work with lawmakers to pass tax reform that lowers corporate rates, scrutinizes deductions, keeps America competitive globally and creates a level playing field here at home," she noted.