The National Retail Federation (NRF) condemned a proposal by House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady to phase in a Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) over five years.
“Phasing in a job-killing plan like the Border Adjustment Tax does nothing to fix its many flaws,” said NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French. “It is a massive middle class tax hike based on unproven economic theory, and doing it more slowly won’t make it any less harmful to millions of American workers. If Chairman Brady is truly listening to his colleagues in the House and the Senate, he will drop the proposal altogether and move on with a new tax reform plan that can win majority support in Congress and gain the President’s signature.”
The United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, and NRF has led the retail industry in advocating for comprehensive tax reform that would broaden the tax base and lower the rate. Retail benefits from few of the tax breaks that lower tax bills for other industries, and most retail companies pay at or close to the full 35% rate.
The “Better Way” tax reform plan proposed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) includes a provision that would, in effect, create a 20% border tax on imported goods by ending retailers’ ability to deduct the cost of merchandise that they import. That means retailers would be taxed at nearly the full selling price of imported merchandise rather than just their profit.
The BAT would have significant implications for retailers and other industries that rely on complicated global supply chains, including automobiles, technology, food and fuel. Analysis by NRF and many of its member companies indicates that the proposed tax would drive up costs, erode profits and exceed any benefits from a lower corporate tax rate. It would require consumer price increases of 15% or more to retain profitability, effectively creating a new tax paid by consumers.
The BAT would also put at risk millions more retail-supported jobs than it would theoretically create for manufacturing. A BAT could cause retailers to see tax bills three to five times the amount of their profits, threatening to drive some merchants out of business. The small retailers that make up 98% of the retail industry and provide 40% of its jobs would be at the biggest risk.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.