Recently, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered his first major speech on tax reform at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) 2017 Manufacturing Summit. Despite political division among Republicans and a crowded legislative agenda for Congress, Ryan vowed to overhaul the tax code by the end of the year. Comprehensive tax reform hasn’t been accomplished in over 30 years when President Ronald Reagan was in office.
During his speech, Ryan promised first to eliminate the estate tax, which is especially burdensome to family-owned independent grocers and wholesalers. Over half of the average supermarket’s assets – the highest of any other industry sector – are not liquid, creating serious obstacles at the owner’s death. As a result, many independent supermarkets are forced to sell their businesses or invest expensive succession planning.
The estate tax undermines the important American values of hard work, entrepreneurship, thrift, and intergenerational savings. It also puts family-owned supermarkets at a severe disadvantage when they compete with corporations that will never face the prospect of being forced to borrow funds or liquidate an ongoing enterprise to pay an enormous tax. Simply put, the estate tax can deal a fatal blow to many independent grocers at its weakest moment, costing communities jobs and tax revenue.
The independent supermarket industry has been urging lawmakers to pass once-in-a-generation tax reform that can create a level playing field for American businesses and NGA’s president, Peter J. Larkin, recently praised the House of Representatives for holding a hearing on tax reform, saying, “Independent grocers are serious about achieving meaningful tax reform that will significantly lower effective rates for Main Street businesses.”
In May, NGA announced the industry was prepared to forgo certain tax provisions that have benefited independent grocers in exchange for a simplified tax code. NGA will continue to work with Members of Congress to ensure tax reform remains a priority and prevent independent grocers from facing onerous taxes at life’s most vulnerable moments.
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If you have any questions, please reach out to Mike Gleeson, director of government affairs, via email at MGleeson@nationalgrocers.org.