A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would provide financial support to grocery and convenience store workers who have been deemed essential and continue to work despite the health risks associated with COVID-19. The bill, H.R. 6567, is the “Giving Retailers and Our Convenience Employees Relief Act” and is aptly named The GROCER Act. It would provide a federal tax holiday for grocery and c-store employees from February 15 through June 15 for those making less than $75,000 annually who work in a county with at least one confirmed COVID-19 case. Under the bill, eligible employees would be able to exempt up to $25,000 in gross income from their 2020 federal income taxes. The legislation also permits the Treasury Department Secretary to extend the tax holiday for an additional three months. If an extension is granted, the cap would then be increased by $6,250 every month.
Workers in these jobs have been taking care of stores and interacting with the public during the pandemic shutdown, while millions of other people have been working from home or at locations where social distancing is easier to do.
In a press release, Rep. Thompson said, “The GROCER Act is a simple way of saying ‘thank you’ to the men and women who put themselves on the front lines, sanitizing, stocking, and serving communities by putting a little more of their hard earned money back in their paychecks.” Speaking about the grocery and c-store employees this bill would benefit, Rep. Evans stated, “This bipartisan four-month income-tax holiday would be a way to thank these vital workers and help them meet their own needs.”
There is a possibility that this bill could be included in the “Phase 4” coronavirus relief package that is currently being discussed, although the timing of a vote on the package is unclear.