While passage of the $2 trillion stimulus bill in the U.S. Senate remains caught up in partisan bickering, the National Association of Theatre Owners March 25 said it applauded the bipartisan agreement announced earlier today.
“We applaud the agreement … to provide relief to movie theaters their employees and so many other public-facing industries that have had to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the trade group said in a statement. “With this agreement, movie theaters can look forward with confidence to re-opening and once again serving their communities when this crisis has passed.”
Details in unemployment benefits, which some GOP lawmakers say could incentivize workers to stay unemployed, remain a key obstacle in the bill getting through the Senate. If passed, it would have to be approved by the House and then signed by President Trump.
Regardless, NATO said the stimulus would provide a $454 billion loan guarantee fund providing access to capital and enabling movie theaters and other businesses to pay their fixed costs while they are unable to generate revenue through normal operations.
The bill would expand Small Business Administration programs enabling small businesses — or the majority of theater companies — to deduct several categories of expenses for loan forgiveness.
It would also afford deferral of payroll taxes, expanded opportunity for loss carrybacks for businesses, and technical corrections regarding qualified improvement property. Employee retention tax credit for businesses that keep people on the payroll despite closures or that see large sales losses. And up to four months of direct aid to workers through extended and expanded unemployment insurance, including increases in the weekly dollar amount and eligibility for part-time employees. It would also advance tax deductions to workers payable now.
“With this aid, movie theaters can get through this crisis confident in being able to re-open, knowing their vital, trained workforce is able to weather this pandemic and have jobs waiting for them when it is safe to reopen,” NATO said in a statement. “We look forward to its quick passage in the House and signature by the President.”