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The Trump Administration Wants to Give You $4,000 in Stimulus Money for Traveling and Dining Out

By Christy Bieber – Updated Jun 22, 2020 at 9:43AM

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Could you be rewarded for going out to dinner?

With the first round of coronavirus stimulus checks delivered to most Americans, families for whom the payment didn't go far enough are eagerly looking for signs from Washington that a second COVID-19 stimulus payment could be forthcoming. 

For those hoping for more money, an orthodox proposal has received support from the Trump administration that could provide additional stimulus money that, for many families, would be worth more than the amount of the first coronavirus check.

But if this new plan comes to fruition, the stimulus money would be available to you only if you use it for traveling or dining out. 

Wallet with passport sitting on map and next to coffee cup with plane in it.

Image source: Getty Images.

The Explore America Tax Credit could reward you for enjoying life

Lobbyists from the tourism industry have been promoting the Explore America Tax Credit in Congress and at the White House, and the idea has captured the attention of a powerful supporter: President Donald Trump. 

The president indicated his support for the proposed tax credit at a recent White House roundtable attended by leaders from within the restaurant industry. 

If lawmakers include it in future coronavirus stimulus bills, the Explore America Tax Credit would create a new tax credit capped at up to $4,000 per U.S. household. Its purpose would be to encourage individuals and families to visit restaurants or take trips within the United States. 

The tax credit would cover 50% of eligible travel and dining-related expenditures that Americans incur in 2020 or 2021. Eligible expenses entitling you to the credit could potentially include:

  • Domestic airfare
  • Car rentals
  • Hotels
  • Theme parks
  • Restaurants

If passed, this would help to both put more money in the pockets of Americans while also aiding some of the industries hit hardest by coronavirus.

Of course, the details would still have to be fleshed out -- including whether the credit would be refundable for families who don't have up to $4,000 in tax liability. And unlike the first COVID-19 stimulus payments -- which were sent out as an advance on a tax credit that Americans received in the mail -- it's likely that you'd have to wait to claim this credit when you file your taxes for 2020 and 2021 because you'd need to show you incurred eligible expenses.

If that's the case, you'd need to shell out money in advance and wait to get your cash back later. That means the big downside is that it wouldn't provide immediate relief for those who need it.  

Still, the tax credit could be a good compromise between Democratic and Republican lawmakers who remain divided over whether the next coronavirus bill should focus on relief for individuals or for businesses affected by COVID-19.

And, as the country enters a recession, it might do more for the economy as a whole than the first stimulus payment, which most Americans saved or used to pay essential bills rather than spending it at local restaurants or attractions. This feature could make it more attractive to lawmakers focused on helping the country open its doors and return to a new normal. 

It's unclear if lawmakers will take it up or not, but with the President's support, there's a real chance the Explore America Tax Credit (or some version of it) could very well make its way into the next coronavirus bill. If you support it, let your representatives know, as negotiations over the next few weeks will likely determine what type of stimulus money, if any, comes to American families next. 

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