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National Restaurant Association - Congress holds debit card tax hearing

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Congress holds debit card tax hearing

Members of the House Financial Services Committee met today to discuss the repeal of debit card swipe-fee protections that currently keep transaction costs fair and reasonable for restaurateurs and other small business operators.

Today’s hearing offered an in-depth look at the updated version of the Financial CHOICE Act. Drafted by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the bill would reverse the protections passed as part of the Durbin Amendment in 2010.

Repeal = tax on small businesses, consumers

In a letter to committee members, Cicely Simpson, our executive vice president of government affairs and policy, previously made clear the repeal would be a tax on small businesses and consumers.

“On behalf of restaurants and customers in your districts, we urge you to oppose the repeal of debit swipe fee protections included in the Financial CHOICE Act,” she said. “Repealing debit swipe fee reform would, once again, tilt the balance away from Main Street’s small businesses, their consumers and your constituents.”

She said a reversal of the protections would only benefit big banks, who’d reap $8.5 billion a year in profits from the increased fees.

The debit card swipe-fee protections provided relief to small businesses who’d been paying astronomical fees on each debit card purchase. Once enacted, the protections cut fees nearly in half, allowing operators to hire tens of thousands of new employees.

Members, constituents speak up

At today’s hearing, Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Florida, said numerous constituents, many of them small business operators, are concerned about the repeal. They told him debit reform must be maintained, adding that savings from reduced transaction fees resulted in business and employee growth.

“The savings realized from debit reform has allowed them to hire more employees, open more new stores and … even pass along some of the savings to consumers,” he told the committee.

Following his statement, Ross submitted letters from the Food Marketing Institute, the National Retail Federation, the Merchants Payments Coalition and a joint trade letter into the record that represent 170 national, state and local trade associations opposing a repeal of debit card swipe-fee protections.

As Congress considers the Financial Choice Act, we’re urging members of our industry to fight back. Visit StopTheDebitCardTax.com to speak out today!

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