The provision was inadvertently deleted from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act addressing tax reform, due to a drafting error.
“There are many compelling reasons, in addition to the ‘zero’ cost, for Congress, to act as quickly as possible to address this problem,” noted the letter that RILA signed. “Current law is slowing investments in QIP and commercial renovation projects — the opposite of lawmakers’ longstanding goal to grow such investments and fuel-related economic activity. Not surprisingly, it is causing numerous negative ripple effects for individuals and businesses, including on job creation, sales of QIP products and building supplies, property values, building occupancy and rental income, cost-saving energy-efficiency gains, and even on fire safety.”
Addressed to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the letter was also signed by hundreds of food retailers, as well as state and national grocery industry associations, including the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the National Grocers Association (NGA), the latter of which advocates for the independent grocery sector.
“RILA is grateful this bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate,” said Jennifer Safavian, EVP of government affairs for Arlington, Va.-based RILA. “The unintentional drafting error in the QIP provision has stifled growth and innovation across the industry. Since the passage of comprehensive tax reform, retailers have followed through on their promise to invest in their workforce and their businesses. We are urging House and Senate leadership to cosponsor the Restoring Investment in Improvements Act and support retailers’ efforts as they continue to invest in their stores, grow their workforce and enhance the overall customer experience.”
A spokeswoman for Arlington-based FMI told Progressive Grocer that the QIP issue “is one of two priority areas that we will focus on for our annual grocery industry fly-in on Capitol Hill this week,” for which the organization is again teaming up with Arlington-based NGA, many of whose members, as smaller operators, are particularly hard hit by the deletion of the depreciation recovery period. The other high-priority issue is payment security.
In March, when the bipartisan House bill was introduced to fix the QIP drafting error, Andrew Harig, FMI’s senior director for sustainability, tax and trade, noted: “This legislation will allow food retailers to take advantage of immediate expensing for improvements made to our members’ stores. These investments not only create jobs and economic activity in the communities served by our membership, they also enhance the consumer experience through modernization and technology."
Noting that of the nearly 900 signatures appearing on the letter, almost 700 were from the grocery industry, NGA VP, Industry Relations, Communications and Marketing Laura Strange told PG: "Momentum for these bills continues to grow, thanks to grass-roots efforts from independent grocers and others in the retail community. The supermarket industry is a high- taxed industry, where grocers operate on just 1 to 2 percent net profit margins. Any opportunity to fully depreciate improvements made to stores will significantly help grocers to upgrade their stores and expand their offerings."