An essential grocery store worker outside a Whole Foods Market store in New York
With the aim of helping grocery and convenience store workers, Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R, Pa., and Dwight Evans, D, Pa., have introduced H.R. 6567, the Giving Retailers and Our Convenience Employees Relief Act, or GROCER Act, as reported by Progressive Grocer sister publication Convenience Store News.
The bipartisan legislation would establish a federal tax holiday from Feb. 15 through June 15 for grocery or convenience store workers earning under $75,000 annually. It would also allow the U.S. Treasury to extend the benefit for another three months.
“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,” said Thompson. “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.”
Added Evans: “Our grocery and convenience store employees are serving on the front lines, making sure the rest of us have the food and other crucial supplies we need to get through this pandemic. This bipartisan four-month income-tax holiday would be a way to thank these vital workers and help them meet their own needs.”
The National Grocers Association and FMI – The Food Industry Association were among the trade organizations to express support for the bill.
“The National Grocers Association supports Rep. Glenn Thompson’s and Rep. Dwight Evans’ efforts to recognize front line workers by providing them with tax relief for their time spent working during the COIV-19 pandemic,” said Molly Pfaffenroth, director of government relations of the Arlington, Va.-based organization, which represents the independent grocery sector. “Independent grocers are integral components of communities across Pennsylvania and the United States, providing access to nutritious food and supplies during this time.”
“We appreciate Reps. Thompson and Evans’ leadership on the GROCER Act,” noted Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer at Arlington-based FMI. “This legislation recognizes the efforts the food industry has contributed as critical infrastructure and gives them well-deserved tax relief for their commitment to ensuring that grocery stores are able to remain open and stocked to serve all of us during this national emergency.
Continued Hatcher: “Supermarket workers remain on the job and are truly essential to America’s coronavirus response. They are working each day during this pandemic, which presents extraordinary challenges while schools, transportation and other businesses are closed, and we are extremely grateful for their commitment.”