WASHINGTON – Representative Shelley Berkley (D-Nevada) is being praised by the National Restaurant Association (N.R.A.) for her leadership in championing legislation to increase the business meal tax deduction, which N.R.A. said is an important priority for the restaurant industry.


Rep. Berkley has become the lead cosponsor of H.R. 3333, a bill to increase the current 50% federal tax deduction for business meals to 80%. The bill is also co-sponsored by Reps. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), and Sam Farr (D-Calif.).


According to the N.R.A., this measure would restore fairness in the tax code for legitimate business deductions and help local restaurants and small businesses. Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) originally introduced the bill in July 2009. After he retired from Congress last month, Rep. Berkley agreed to become the lead cosponsor of the bill.

"Restoring this deduction is important to small and independent businesses as well as the foodservice, travel, tourism and entertainment industries," said Scott DeFife, N.R.A. executive vice president for policy and government affairs. "We are grateful for Representative Berkley's leadership on this issue. This is one of the key issues that our members will be advocating for this week when hundreds of restaurateurs from across the country head to Capitol Hill during our Public Affairs Conference."

"The business-meal deduction is an incentive for businessmen and businesswomen to visit restaurants and eateries throughout the nation," added Rep. Berkley. "This provision will save jobs and promote economic growth at family-run establishments and businesses of all sizes that are part of America's restaurant and dining industry."

An increase in the deduction to 80% would grow business meal sales by $6 billion nationwide and create an $18 billion increase in the overall economy, research shows. The industry currently employs an estimated 13 million people, or 9% of the U.S. workforce. It is estimated that for every additional one million dollars in restaurant sales an additional 34 jobs are generated for the economy.