In the House, Representative Neil Abercrombie æ a long-time champion of the re-institution of the spousal travel deduction æ also has a bill (H.R. 1313), introduced earlier this year, that would permanently restore the deduction.
The spousal tax deduction had previously been in effect until 1993 and allows for business travelers to deduct the full cost of meals, airplane tickets and lodging for spouses.
The most recent figures show that in 2002, U.S. domestic business travel declined 5.5 percent over 2001, and is down nearly 9 percent from 2000. There are many factors contributing to what is likely to be a continued decrease in business travel: many companies that instituted travel bans in the wake of 9/11 continue to do so due to the weak economy; and the recent war in Iraq and concerns about SARS caused even more companies to place severe limits on the amount of travel that takes place or ban it altogether. For all segments of the travel and tourism industry this downturn in travel translates to major revenue losses. For local, state and federal governments, this means significantly lower tax revenues.
"Restoration of the spousal tax deduction is a necessary incentive to help spur business travel," notes Jonathan Tisch, chairman of the Travel Business Roundtable and chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels. "It means that two people would be traveling instead of one, two people eating in restaurants, two people shopping, and two people visiting cultural attractions. As TBR has been working towards the restoration of the spousal travel tax deduction for the past several years, we are very pleased that the leadership in Congress understands how this legislation would help revitalize the travel and tourism industry, as well as the economy as a whole."
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