Restaurants risk losing option to help under $ 1.2 billion infrastructure law

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Federal aid package to help restaurants recover from pandemic will end three months earlier than expected under a provision of the $ 1.2 billion infrastructure improvement bill approved Tuesday morning by the Senate.

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) offers restaurateurs and other small employers an advance on their taxes of up to 70% of what they pay in payroll taxes. Essentially, the government provides the cash up front in anticipation of taking out credit when the business files its returns for the year. Only operations with 500 employees or less can obtain the advance.

Amounts can go up to $ 7,000 per employee per quarter in 2021. But the version of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act ends the ERC program with the third quarter, or September 30, instead of letting it run. the rest of the year. .

“This bill shortens the use of one of the only recovery tools available to us, the employee retention tax credit,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, in a press release. “This action increases our need for Congress to act on behalf of the restaurant industry and replenish the RRF [Restaurant Revitalization Fund] in the reconciliation bill.

The association worked with a bipartisan group of senators in hopes of passing a bill to funnel more funds into the RRF, a $ 28.6 billion aid pool specifically aimed at restaurants that have been affected by the pandemic. The program ran out of funds in three weeks, leaving hundreds of thousands of applicants without the planned relief.

Several thousand other restaurateurs were told they were eligible for aid, but never saw the money due to successful court challenges to a provision that gave preference to women and socially disadvantaged applicants. The lawsuits alleged reverse discrimination.

A measure to replenish the RRF with $ 48 billion was introduced in the Senate over the weekend by prominent senators on both sides of the aisle, including Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Roger Wicker (R -Miss.) And Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. (DN.Y.). Supporters hoped to pass the measure by aiming for a unanimous vote, a procedural option that tends to streamline the passage of popular and non-partisan initiatives. But an objection was raised, undermining the effort.

The industry has another chance to replenish the fund in the reconciliation bill Democrats are submitting to Congress as a companion bill to the infrastructure act. The measure, which would only require a simple majority to pass, includes a number of aids and social benefits that were removed from the bill passed on Tuesday. President Biden has said he will sign the infrastructure bill because many of the measures he originally wanted in this measure have been incorporated into the reconciliation bill.

The infrastructure bill is now passing through the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass, but with considerable debate. Even though Democrats have a majority in this chamber, members of the party’s progressive wing have criticized the bill for not going far enough in updating the country’s infrastructure. They would have preferred to see a larger and more radical measure.

Some Republicans, meanwhile, denigrate the infrastructure bill as a pig-barrel measure that encompasses much more than rebuilding durable goods such as bridges, roads and airports.

The National Restaurant Association is the majority owner of Catering company and its parent company, Winsight.


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