Three Cheers for Three Martini Lunches

I like the Business Meal Tax write-off in the new stimulus package passed by Congress.  Why? Because it is what it says it is….Stimulus.

Roughly 70% of the revenue that hotels, airlines, restaurants and the ancillary industries (ride-sharing, theaters, etc.) related to travel comes from business travel and meetings. Leisure travel gets all the news and Instagram posts, but business spending is the tide that lifts all boats. As Senator Tim Scott says, “This is a no-brainer.”

Instead of the government picking industries to prop up with complex and low velocity programs like PPP, this legislation first enables and then incentivizes everyone in business to spend and to do it right away.  In its purest form, it is consumer stimulus, and it is better to empower consumers than to try and make Congressional sausage picking winners and losers.

It is estimated that this tax break will cost the government a puny $6 billion in tax revenue; a rounding error in the government’s tax collections. I say this program should be significantly expanded. How about a tax write-off of up to $40 for all meals purchased from restaurants on, say, Mondays thru Wednesdays thru 2021?

The result would be that consumers would pick the winners. The restaurants that provide the best service and best value would benefit, and we really need these businesses operating robustly again, now.

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