WASHINGTON – The National Restaurant Association praised final passage of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 23 that it says will provide the nation's restaurants and small businesses with tax relief and assistance in gaining access to capital. The House voted 237-187 for the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, H.R. 5297, which passed the Senate last week. Next week President Obama is expected to sign the measure into law.

“This bill will help restaurants and small businesses with tax relief and assistance in gaining access to capital that is critical to economic and financial recovery,” said Scott DeFife, National Restaurant Association executive vice president of policy and government affairs. “Our industry, employing nearly 13 million Americans at 945,000 restaurants locations nationwide, is comprised mainly of small, independent businesses.”

Households are still holding back on spending, and as a result many restaurant operators are continuing to struggle, he added. “The provisions in this bill to expand access to capital will help restaurant operators make necessary investments, hire and retain workers, and, in certain cases, keep their doors open,” he continued. “The modernization of popular Small Business Administration loan programs, the inclusion of refinance options and extension of expiring loan guarantees and borrower fee reductions will go a long way to help small businesses in this difficult credit climate.”

Significant for 2010 and 2011, the legislation increases the Section 179 expensing limits to $500,000 and expands Section 179 to allow businesses to expense up to $250,000 of the cost of qualified leasehold improvement property, qualified restaurant property, and qualified retail improvement property.

“The expensing provisions will encourage restaurants to undertake capital expenditures, and these will have a multiplier effect, spurring economic activity and job growth in communities throughout the country,” DeFife said, noting the industry is forecast to generate an overall economic impact of $1.5 trillion this year.

The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 includes:

• Establishment of a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund to spur and facilitate small banks in lending money to small businesses.

• Increase in the size of Small Business Administration (S.B.A.) loans from $2 million to $5 million.

• Continued elimination of fees associated with such loans through 2010.

• Continues 90% government guarantee of such loans through 2010.

• Increase in the Section 179 expensing limits and expansion to cover restaurant property.