Eight retail chiefs took their qualms with a proposed tax code revision to the White House on Wednesday for a round-table meeting with President Donald Trump.
Gap Inc. CEO Art Peck, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. CEO Marvin Ellison and Target Corp. CEO Brian Cornell were in attendance as Trump promised to cut regulations in “just about every industry” in a bid to boost the economy.
“My administration remains very focused on the issues that will encourage economic growth,” Trump told the business leaders. “We’re cutting regulations bigly — we’re really cutting them by massive amounts. You have a very big regulatory problem [in retail] and we want to take care of that because I want more jobs.”
While Trump’s opening remarks praised the retail industry and focused heavily on his plans to reduce corporate regulation, the House proposal for a border adjustment tax has ruffled many a retailer’s feathers. And that was precisely the reason the eight CEOs converged on Washington.
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Since a large sum of goods — including footwear, apparel and electronics — are produced overseas, retailers fear that if the border adjustment tax is implemented, they will be hit with exorbitant taxes and will be forced to raise their prices, creating a trickle down effect for consumers.
In a statement following the meeting, AutoZone CEO Bill Rhodes — speaking on behalf of the other CEOs who met with Trump — called the meeting “positive and productive.”
“We stressed the importance of taking a thoughtful approach to tax reform for both individuals and corporations,” Rhodes said. “The retail industry is the nation’s largest private sector employer providing and supporting more than 42 million American jobs. The president understands we support pro-growth policies that we believe will lead to greater domestic investment.”
Trump has also voiced some concern about the tax proposal, calling it “too complicated.” In Wednesday’s meeting, the president promised a “good and simpler” tax code.