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Issues & Advocacy

Issues for Action

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  • Tell Congress to Pass Urgent Tax Credits and Deductions before 2015

    Now that Congress is back in their lame duck session, restaurant operators need four important tax provisions extended or made permanent before the end of the year or face negative consequences to their 2015 operations:  

    1. Section 179 expensing at a $500,000 level with inclusion of qualified real property (i.e. restaurants) as property eligible for such treatment.
    2. The 15-year depreciation schedule on restaurant-building improvements and new construction, retail improvements, and leasehold improvements. 
    3. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which offers businesses tax credits of $2,400 to $5,600 for hiring employees from demographic groups who historically have a hard time finding employment. 
    4. The enhanced tax deduction for businesses and individuals that donate food inventory to charity.

    Like other high-customer volume businesses, restaurants must constantly make improvements to keep up with structural and cosmetic wear and tear caused by customers and employees. As an example, the restaurant industry alone has more than 130 million customers patronize restaurants each day. Unfortunately, the 15-year depreciation schedule for these properties expired at the end of 2013, and a 39-year schedule is now used. Even when it was in effect, the 15-year depreciation schedule was only temporary and had to be frequently renewed, a process that creates economic uncertainty for businesses and needs to be addressed. 

    Likewise, the Section 179 immediate deduction of up to $500,000 for business equipment, software, and qualified real property expired at the end of 2013 and reverted back to a deduction of only $25,000 and excludes qualified real property from such treatment. This expensing provision will encourage restaurants to undertake capital expenditures, and these will have a multiplier effect, spurring economic activity and job growth in communities throughout the country.

    Restaurants, as an industry, are the nation's second-largest private-sector employer. Our industry is known for giving opportunities to low-skilled and unskilled workers to gain valuable experience, earn a living, and improve their situation. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is one tool that allows us to make those opportunities possible for disabled veterans, individuals receiving certain types of public assistance, people with disabilities, and other groups that are historically difficult to employ. With its tax credits of $2,400 to $5,600 per worker, the WOTC helps open doors for those who might otherwise have no option but to collect public assistance. This means the WOTC, in addition to opportunities, helps create savings for both business owners and federal, state and local governments. 

    As a cornerstone to each community they serve and in an effort to be a good citizen of their community, restaurants often donate their surplus goods to local charities that provide for those in need. The enhanced charitable deduction for food donation helps offset the cost of storing and transporting extra food that restaurants donate to charity. Without the deduction, taxpayers would receive no more of a deduction for donating food than they would for throwing it away. 

    Across the country, the restaurant industry is creating jobs for millions of Americans, whether it's their first job or life-long career. Renewal of these critical tax provisions will help restaurateurs nationwide continue to provide opportunity and pathways to success for individuals of all backgrounds and skill levels looking to enter the foodservice industry.

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  • Urge your Congressman to co-sponsor the "STARS Act"

    Under the current health care law there are two definitions of seasonal employment– Seasonal Worker and Seasonal Employee. The seasonal worker definition is used when determining if an employer is an “applicable large employer” and subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility and Employer Reporting Requirement. The seasonal employee definition is used by an applicable large employer with the look-back Measurement Method to determine which employees must be offered coverage.  
     
    These conflicting definitions complicate the “applicable large employer” (ALE) determination process. As part of ALE determination, employers must determine all employees’ hours of service, including seasonal workers, each calendar month. They then must calculate the number of full-time equivalent employees per month, and average each month over a full calendar year to determine the employer’s status for the following calendar year.   If the employer averaged 50 or more full-time equivalent employees for 120 days or less and the workers that pushed them over 50 were seasonal workers, then the Seasonal Worker Exception applies and the employer can be considered a small employer.  The STARS Act technical correction will provide clarification and much needed relief for restaurateurs.

    Please click the take action button below and tell your Legislator to cosponsor this important bill.  Please also note that the letter is editable and we encourage you to personalize this with your businesses story.

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  • Reauthorize Brand USA and Support America's Restaurants

    The U.S. Senate will soon vote to reauthorize The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014, S. 2250. S. 2250 reauthorizes Brand USA, the nation’s first global marketing campaign to promote the United States as a destination for international travelers. The National Restaurant Association has supported this initiative since its inception because we know the success of our industry is closely tied to travel and tourism. 

    Did you know:
    • Roughly 1 in 4 industry sales dollars come from travel and tourism
    • The full service restaurant segment derives roughly 1/4 of annual sales from travelers/tourists

    Stronger Restaurants, Stronger Economy

    When restaurants do well, the benefits are felt across the economy, in sectors from agriculture to transportation. 
    • Every dollar spent at restaurants generates $2.05 for the rest of the economy
    • 2014 industry sales will reach $683 billion; a total impact of more than $1.8 trillion for the economy 

    Brand USA must continue its critical work promoting the U.S. abroad and attracting international travelers to our shores. Its efforts translate into more seats booked at restaurants, more jobs and a stronger economy. 

    Click the take action button below and urge your Senators to support S.2250 – for a stronger America. 

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  • Tell Your Senators to Act Now and Support the "Forty Hours is Full-Time Act"!

    The U.S. House of Representatives has passed bipartisan legislation that reinstates the traditional definition of full-time employment as it relates to the Affordable Care Act from the arbitrary 30 hours to the more commonplace 40 hours. Though the November 4 election is now behind us, the Senate can still act in a lame duck session or would see similar legislation in 2015.  Tell your Senators to support a 40 hour work week! 

    Click the take action button below and send a letter to both of your senators, urging them to support S. 1188, the Forty Hours is Full-time Act of 2013.

    Background:
    In less than 8 months, unless limited transition relief applies, “large” employers will be required to comply with key elements of the Affordable Care Act. Perhaps the health care law’s most visible change will be its treatment of employees who work 30 hours a week as “full-time.” Employers across the country will be forced to accept this arbitrary definition, despite an almost universally accepted definition of a 40-hour week as full-time.

    What does this mean for restaurants?
    Those with 50 or more full-time employee equivalents (FTEs) will have to offer health insurance to all employees who work at least 30 hours per week, or pay penalties (In 2015, transition relief has been provided from those with 50-99 FTEs, if certain conditions are met). It also means that employers and employees will lose the scheduling flexibility that attracts millions to the industry. Because of the high costs of health insurance, many employers will have no choice but to control labor costs and stretch their benefits dollar over a larger group of employees.

    The good news: 
    The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 2575, the Save American Workers Act and now awaits U.S. Senate action. As we prepare for this important vote, now is the time to take action and urge your Senators to support worker flexibility. 

    Congress is listening and your voice does make a difference.

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