• Susan Dickenson

Retailers oppose Trump border tax in White House meeting

CEOs from several major U.S. retailers met with President Trump at the White House yesterday to express their opposition to the proposed Border Adjustment Tax, arguing the move would drive up the price of goods for consumers.

The retailers also spoke with the president about overhauling the corporate tax law and investments in infrastructure improvements, and met with the heads of the two tax-writing congressional committees - Kevin Brady, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Senator Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

“We stressed the importance of taking a thoughtful approach to tax reform for both individuals and corporations,” said Autozone CEO William Rhodes, who was joined by Target CEO Brian Cornell, JC Penney CEO Marvin Ellison, Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly, Gap Inc CEO Art Peck, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. CEO Stefano Pessina, Jo-Ann Stores CEO Jill Soltau and Tractor Supply Co. CEO Gregory Sandfort.

The border tax proposal, which would impose a 20% tax on imports and exclude export revenue from taxable income, could offset the benefits of Brady’s and Speaker Paul Ryan’s push to cut the corporate income tax to 20% from 35% for retailers and other companies that rely heavily on imports.

In his remarks to the retailers, Trump said he’s “cutting regulations big league,” and explained his regulatory reduction method called “one and one.”

“You have a very, very big regulatory problem and we're going to take care of that because I want more jobs. ... As you know, the overregulation costs our economy an estimated $2 trillion a year, which is incredible - $2 trillion - and it costs your businesses a lot of money, tremendous amounts of money and time. I've taken executive action to create a permanent structure of regulatory reduction by creating one and one. So basically, for every one regulation, two are out. So we knock out two. So we put in one, but to put in one, you have to knock out two. That's the least of it, but it's an important symbol.”

The retailers also emphasized their industry's contributions to job growth during the economic recovery and the damage that cost increases, resulting from the tax code’s overhaul, could bring about.

"This is a plan that we think is risky and unproven," said David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation. "We would urge them to reconsider this approach."

The retailers who met with Trump are members of the Americans for Affordable Products coalition, a movement that launched earlier this month with a national campaign to engage consumers, and to "show lawmakers that pursuing tax policy that will result in higher costs for their customers on everyday items including food, gas and clothing is the wrong approach."

While the retailers oppose the tax, a group of major U.S. exporters including Boeing Co., General Electric and Pfizer Inc. have formed a coalition to support the import tax.

Susan DickensonSusan Dickenson | Editor in Chief

Susan Dickenson is the editor in chief of Home Accents Today, where she has spent more than a decade covering trending topics, best practices and news items pertaining to the manufacturing, retail and interior design segments of the home furnishings industry. A graduate of UNC, Dickenson spent 15 years in the Washington, D.C., area, writing and researching in both the public and private sector. After relocating to her native North Carolina in 2003, she freelanced as a writer of general interest, business, garden and home items for local and national publications before joining Home Accents Today in 2006 as retail editor.

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