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GBTA to Take Business Travel Messages to Capitol Hill

Next week GBTA will host nearly 100 members at its annual Legislative Summit. The event will kick off with speeches from members of Congress and industry leaders along with education sessions. On the final day, GBTA members will head to Capitol Hill to meet with their representatives to talk about issues important to the business travel industry.

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Here are key issues the travel industry will bring to Capitol Hill next week:

End TSA’s Managed Inclusion

The Issue: Managed inclusion is a TSA program designed to provide expedited screening to passengers not deemed low risk prior to arriving at the airport. TSA uses Managed Inclusion as a tool to direct passengers who are not on a Pre✓ list, or designated as eligible for expedited screening via the TSA Pre✓ Risk Assessments, into the expedited screening lanes to increase passenger throughput in these lanes when the volume of TSA Pre✓-eligible passengers is low.

Managed Inclusion, however, confers all the benefits of Pre✓ without requiring any of the burdens. Managed Inclusion passengers are not required to submit personal information for TSA vetting, pay a fee nor have bar codes embedded in a boarding pass.

The Ask: GBTA urges members of Congress to cosponsor and pass draft legislation by Rep. Thompson (D-MS) to end Managed Inclusion.

Oppose Increases in PFCs

The Issue: Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) are federal fees to help pay for capital development at airports. PFCs are currently capped at $4.50 per flight segment with a maximum of two PFCs charged on a one-way trip or four PFCs on a round trip, for a maximum of $18 total. This fee funds FAA-approved projects that enhance safety, security or capacity; reduce noise or increase air carrier competition. The Administration has proposed raising the fee to $8 and some airports and travel associations are pushing for an $8.50 fee per segment. Combined with other proposed tax and fee increases, this hike would raise the amount paid for each ticket to nearly $60.

Road warriors are helping to strengthen and drive our economy – in 2015 alone business travelers are expected to spend a record $295.7 billion. It’s clear: travel should be promoted, rather than taxed ad nauseam. What’s more, airports don’t need the funding. Since 2008, more than $70 billion in capital improvement projects have been completed, are underway or have been approved at airports across the country. Airports also have more than $11 billion in unrestricted cash and investments, while bringing in more revenue every year (a record-high $24.5 billion in 2013) to help prepare them for tomorrow’s passengers

The Ask: Do not increase PFCs in Transportation Appropriations or FAA Reauthorization.

End Discriminatory Car Rental Taxes

The Issue: Discriminatory taxes are those placed on rental cars by a municipality that are higher or not applicable to other rental items and they are very common. In 1976 there was one such tax – today, there are more than 117 special car rental taxes in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Since 1990, car rental customers have paid more than $7.5 billion in special taxes to fund projects with no direct connection to renting a car. In addition to stadiums, car rental customers are also footing the bill for performing arts centers and culinary institutes.

In the past, Congress has enacted similar protections from discriminatory taxes for other interstate travelers. This includes business travelers moving by air, train and bus. Bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1528) has been introduced by Reps. Graves (R-MO) and Cohen (D-TN) and more than 23 other members have signed on as cosponsors.  The legislation would “grandfather” in existing car rental excise taxes to prevent a cut-off of funding for projects already underway, but keep new discriminatory taxes from being implemented.

The Ask: GBTA urges Congress to cosponsor and pass H.R. 1528.

Keep the Travel & Entertainment Deduction

The Issue: Last Congress, the House Ways and Means Chairman proposed eliminating the entertainment deduction. In general, business travel and business entertainment expenses are deductible. Entertainment expenses that are both ordinary and necessary in carrying on a trade or business may be deductible.  You must have records to prove the business purpose and the amount of each expense, the date and place of the entertainment and the business relationship of the persons entertained. Generally, only 50 percent of business-related meal and entertainment expenses are allowed as a deduction.

In order to qualify, the entertainment must take place in a clear business setting and is for your business or work. Already, entertainment expenses generally are not allowed if there are substantial distractions that generally prevent you from actively conducting business – say at a nightclub, sporting event, cocktail party, golf outing or the like.

The Ask: GBTA urges Congress to not eliminate the travel and entertainment deduction during tax reform.