Last month, President Trump hosted a roundtable discussion with leaders in the restaurant and hospitality industry. During the meeting, he suggested a tax credit for Americans to spend on domestic travel. (You can read the full transcript of the meeting here)
“[We could] Create an ‘Explore America’ — that’s ‘Explore,’ right? ‘Explore America’ tax credit that Americans can use for domestic travel, including visits to restaurants. That’s a big deal.”
Last Thursday (June 11), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration is “very seriously considering” a second round of stimulus checks, according to the Wall Street Journal. That second round might include this tax credit.
On Friday (June 12), a press release from Bambridge Accountants said, “The Explore America Tax Credit would provide tax relief, proposed at $4,000 per household, for Americans to go back to restaurants and domestic travel… While the Explore America Tax Credit is still being reviewed by Congress and President Trump’s administration, the initial proposal is a tax credit of up to 50 percent of a household’s spending on expenses including airfares, car rentals, hotels, theme parks and restaurants.”
The tax credit, as mentioned, would be for up to $4,000 per household and it would apply for eligible expenses in 2020 and 2021.
It is unclear if this measure has been proposed in the United States House of Representatives or Senate yet and, if it has, what the status of the measure is.
The U.S. tourism industry has been hit extremely hard by the coronavirus. Forbes reports that, before the pandemic, the industry contributed $2.6 trillion to the economy, supported 15.8 million American jobs overall (8.9 million directly) and delivered a $69 billion trade surplus last year. But travel businesses and employees were among the first and hardest hit during the crisis, representing nearly 40% of all job loss through April.
So while the stimulus bill would be welcomed by the travel and hospitality industry — and surely by most Americans — CNN reports that Kentucky Senator and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “We’ll be looking in July to make a decision about whether to go forward with another rescue package,” but that he didn’t respond to a question when asked if he was concerned that such a price tag could grow the deficit.