Republican senator proposes vacation tax credit to incentivize travel

A Republican senator has a peculiar proposal to get Americans traveling again.

Arizona lawmaker Martha McSally announced Monday new legislation she introduced to give Americans a tax credit for going on vacation, The Hill reported.

Reviving tourism?

The idea behind the bill is to revive the battered tourism industry, which took a massive hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

It tries to achieve that with a tax credit of $4,000 for individuals and $8,000 for joint filers, plus $500 per child, for vacation costs incurred at least 50 miles from home. The credit applies back to Dec. 31, 2019, and extends to Jan. 1, 2022, according to Fox News.

“The tourism and hospitality industries were among the hardest-hit sectors across the country and their revival is critical to our economic recovery,” McSally said in a statement, according to The Hill.

She went on: “Arizona has lost billions in revenue this year alone due to the pandemic. My legislation will help boost domestic travel and jumpstart the comeback of our hotels, entertainment sectors, local tourism agencies, and the thousands of businesses that make Arizona one of the best places in the world to visit.”

The U.S. Travel Association supports the bill, which has come under fire from Democrats who argue that coronavirus relief should focus on safety net spending for vulnerable workers. McSally’s bill has also come under attack from libertarians who liken it to a wasteful subsidy.

Bill faces pushback

The pushback comes as America remains divided over coronavirus restrictions, with Republicans more likely than Democrats to say that it’s time to return to normal life.

Arizona Democrats say the bill is irresponsible from a health standpoint — the state is seeing an increase in hospitalizations, according to the Arizona Republic — and would benefit only wealthier families. The bill includes a provision to let people write off live entertainment expenses at a second home.

“Instead of standing up to oppose her party’s lawsuit to end health care coverage protections or fighting for direct relief funding for Arizona communities, Martha McSally is pushing another corporate industry group-backed tax giveaway to wealthy families that will encourage people to travel during a pandemic,” Arizona’s Democratic Party said in a statement, according to The Hill.

McSally, a former Air Force pilot, is facing a tough re-election fight against Democrat Mark Kelly, a Navy veteran, The Hill notes.

It all begs the question: Is this just an election gambit, or actually a good idea? Only time will tell.

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