HOWARD, Pa. — To help grocery and convenience-store employees weather the COVID-19 pandemic economically, U.S. Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Dwight Evans (D-Pa.) have introduced the Giving Retailers and Our Convenience Employees Relief Act, or GROCER Act. The representatives expect the legislation to be part of the latest stimulus bill being drafted in Congress.
The bill, H.R. 6567, would establish a four-month federal tax holiday for grocery and convenience-store employees from Feb. 15 through June 15 for individuals making less than $75,000 annually in a county that has at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. The employees would be able to exclude up to $25,000 in gross income from their 2020 federal income taxes. The bill would also provide discretion to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury to extend this benefit for an additional three months, increasing the cap by $6,250 a month.
“Grocery and convenience-store workers are among the unsung heroes of our battle with COVID-19 and have played a vital role in the national food supply chain,” 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.”
Convenience-industry groups praised the legislation. “Convenience-store associates are indeed on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis in every community around the country by providing the food, fuel and necessities required by their customers," said Henry Armour, CEO of NACS, Alexandria, Va. "The relief provided by the GROCER Act is a welcome response to these heroes who have continued to serve their communities.”
Lisa Mullings, president and CEO of NATSO, also based in Alexandria, said, "Travel center employees are on the front lines of America's fight against COVID-19, ensuring that our nation's truck drivers have places to eat, rest and refuel as they deliver food and other essential supplies throughout the country. Travel centers and truckstops remain open 24 hours a day, and that's because of their heroic employees. NATSO is extraordinarily grateful to Reps. Thompson and Evans for recognizing the essential work that these travel center and truckstop employees are doing day in and day out."