Senator pushes for new tax credits to boost travel, hospitality industry

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attempt to agree on a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) says her legislation aimed at shoring up the travel and hospitality industry should be part of a potential deal.

Cortez Masto and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act last week. The legislation would use tax credits, for both individuals and businesses, as a way to support the hospitality sector, which has been wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s devastating across the country,” said Cortez Masto in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “How do we shore up and protect our workers and the businesses? You need both. You need the workers and the businesses to survive and thrive across this country. This bill focuses on the businesses who employ so many workers — hundreds of thousands, just in the state of Nevada alone, but across the country.”

The bipartisan bill would create a tax credit for attending or hosting a trade show, convention or business meeting. It would also establish a tax credit for restaurants to help pay for costs related to re-opening and renovating in order to make sure they can operate safely during the pandemic. The legislation would increase the Employee Retention Tax Credit and restore the entertainment business expense deduction.

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 24: Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., heads to the Senate subway after a vote in the Capitol on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

If the bill were to become law, many Americans would get a tax credit for domestic travel expenses — like meals, transportation, gas, recreation, hotel stays, etc… — between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2023.

The credit would create a tax credit worth 50% of certain travel expenses up to $1,500 per household, plus $500 for each child — maxing out at $3,000 for a family of five. The credit would phase out for individuals making more than $75,000 per year and couples making more than $150,000. The travel would have to be an overnight trip at least 50 miles away from the person’s home.

Cortez Masto told Yahoo Finance she hopes the legislation could be part of a comprehensive stimulus package.

“You can’t pick winners and losers. Really the focus should be still on individuals, families, and workers, and businesses as well, but the priority is addressing the health pandemic. That’s the cause of, of our economy and a downturn in our economy,” Cortez Masto said. “We have to continue that comprehensive approach — this is a piece of it. This is a piece of it that has impacted in industry in hospitality and leisure that really was left behind in the previous packages that we passed.”

Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.

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