On May 18, 2020, President Trump met with some restaurant execs and suggested a few tax law changes to help the industry. This included “restore the restaurant deduction to help jobless restaurant workers” He also suggested: “Create an “Explore America” — that’s “Explore,” right? Explore America tax credit that Americans can use for domestic travel, including visits to restaurants.”
On June 22, 2020, Senator McSally (R-AZ) introduced S. 4031, American Tax Rebate and Incentive Program Act (the American TRIP Act). This bill would add new IRC §25E, Travel, Hospitality, and Entertainment Expenses. This bill does the following:
- Provide a 100% nonrefundable credit on up to $4,000 of expenses for travel and restaurant usage ($8,000 MFJ) + $500 x # qualifying children (under age 17).
- The credit is for qualifying travel in the U.S. and its territories that is over 49 miles from the taxpayer’s home for food, lodging, transportation, live entertainment (including sporting events), expenses related to attending conference or business meeting).
- For use of a personal vehicle, the amount considered spent is measured using the standard mileage rate in effect under §162(a), with is 57.5 cents/mile for 2020 (this is the rate that includes depreciation so too high for personal travel).
- The credit is based on travel after 12/31/19 and before 1/1/22 per the text of S. 4031 (so 2020 and 2021). However the sponsor’s press release says the credit applies for 2020, 2021 and 2022.
- Travel to the taxpayer’s vacation home is okay if 50 miles or more away, but expenses of the home don’t qualify.
- S. 4031 also allocates $50 million of grant funds to promote tourism and travel in the U.S.