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Bill would provide tax break for frontline workers

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WASHINGTON – Retail industry groups are voicing support for federal legislation that would provide tax relief for “essential” workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst on July 21 introduced the FRNT LINE Act, which provides income tax relief for workers who meet criteria set forth by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in identifying essential critical infrastructure.

“These frontline workers — our nurses, truck drivers, grocery store workers, child care providers, and so many others — have kept life going and our supply chains intact,” Ernst said in a press release. “These men and women are putting the interests of their fellow Americans ahead of their own. Each and every morning they wake up and go to work, and they should be rewarded for their selfless service.”

Under her bill, federal income taxes would be suspended for essential workers up to an annual income cap set at the highest level of pay for an enlisted person in the U.S. Armed Forces, Ernst said. Additionally, the bill would provide suspension of federal payroll taxes for essential workers who earn up to $50,000 annually.

Ernst said her bill has the support of 27 industry groups whose members would benefit from the proposal. Among the backers is Food Marketing Institute (FMI), whose president and CEO Leslie Sarasin, lauded Ernst for her leadership on the issue.

“The grocery industry and the food supply chain that supports it have worked tirelessly to keep food available to American customers during the COVID-19 pandemic in spite of tremendous challenges,” Sarasin said. “The FRNT LINE Act appropriately recognizes these efforts and gives our frontline associates well-deserved tax relief for their commitment to ensuring that grocery stores are open and stocked continuously during this national emergency.”

Reynolds Cramer, president and CEO of Boone, Iowa-based Fareway Stores Inc., is also backing the bill. “Our employees have done an outstanding job providing an essential service through this pandemic,” he said.


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