The “Explore America” Proposed Tax Credit Could Reimburse Travelers Up to $4K


It looks like those of you that travel could be eligible for a $4,000 “Explore America” tax credit, if travel industry lobbyists succeed.

According to the Orlando Sentinel industry lobbyists are currently circulating a plan in Congress, and at the White House, that could give American travelers a tax break for spending money at theme parks, hotels and other tourism related businesses.

The “Explore America” tax credit is just one idea that is being proposed, along with others, for consideration in a new stimulus package. It would add to the other trillions of dollars that Congress and Federal Reserve have put out. The hope for this particular credit would be to convince Americans to travel and help the “hard-hit tourism industry.” Then you can get some of it back.

Lobbyists are working with Congress and the Trump Administration to hammer out the details, but according to the Orlando Sentinel:

“..early drafts envision an income tax credit worth up to 50 percent of a household’s spending on expenses like airfare or rental cars, hotel rooms, tickets to attractions and meals in restaurants that are at least 50 miles away. The tax credit would be capped at $4,000 per household and it would apply to travel expenses through the end of 2021.”

Would this be enough?

According to Wendi Walsh from UNITE HERE, a union that represents employes at airports, casinos, and hotels. The answer is more needs to be done. She believes that the sector needs more than just a one time boost they need better conditions and wages:

I think we really need to move from incentives to requirements to get these companies to do the right thing.

The tourism industry is one of the worst-paying professions in the United States. A study by researchers at Florida State University last year found that leisure and hospitality workers earned an average of $311 per week — less than half of the $710 a week economy-wide average. And the gap has been widening over time; the same study found that, for every $1 increase in economy-wide wages, leisure and hospitality wages grow just 81 cents.

With companies struggling just to get through this, and many people not even having enough money to go halfsies on a vacation, I don’t know if we will see the better wages anytime soon, even though it sounds like there really needs to be something done about it.

But the first main hurdle seems to be getting people to travel again.

However, many are not comfortable doing so and with physical distancing and masks, traveling to Florida in the summer might not be as appealing as it was a year ago. Then there’s the issue that many people don’t have the money to travel, even if you get half back later.

Here’s another question. Where does the money come from and how is it replaced?  Is this all they are asking for? No.

Reading further down the article the hotel lobbyists want tax breaks for cleaning, employee training etc. Other groups want “tax breaks for corporations that spend money on meals and entertainment. They want the federal government to pay above-market market rates for government travel. And they want incentives to underwrite corporate meetings, conventions and trade shows.

They want the government to pay above-market rates for travel. I’m sure a lot of businesses want that too because they had to shut down for months as well. Tourism wasn’t the only industry impacted.

As much as I think a possible $4,000 credit for going to Disney sounds good on paper, the more I hear about all they want going with it, the more concerns I have. But the Orlando Sentinel seems to think some or all of this might have a good chance to be approved. I just hope taxpayers aren’t hit much harder later so travel companies can be given more money now.

I understand why they need help, but so many people are struggling themselves from the COVID-19 situation. Many trying to pay bills. Unlike the travel industry we don’t get billions in lines of credit with varying payback options. The deal still requires the American people to spend a lot of money they might not have, to maybe get back half.

I think that after how much Disney kept raising prices and nickel and diming guests before the closures, while boasting high profits and stocks. They kept raising ticket prices, started charging for parking at hotels, increased food and merchandise prices, etc. maybe they should appreciate the guests and do what they can to earn some of the money back with better incentives and lower prices. That way, even if Americans get half of their money back, they aren’t spending as much to get there in the first place.

What do you think? Comment and let us know.

Source: The Orlando Sentinel

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