New Bill Seeks to Reward COVID-19 Frontline Workers

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced a new bill to allow COVID-19 frontline workers to keep more of their hard-earned dollars.

According to a press release, under Ernst’s FRNT LINE Act, 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. Additionally, the bill would provide suspension of federal payroll taxes for frontline workers who earn up to $50,000 annually.

“Our essential workers have risen to the challenge and continued in their daily jobs – to care for and protect Iowans, to produce and deliver food and essential goods, and to uphold our nation’s critical infrastructure throughout this pandemic,” said Senator Ernst.

“These frontline workers—our nurses, truck drivers, and grocery store workers, child care providers, and so many others—have kept life going and our supply chains intact. 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,” added Senator Ernst.

Tax suspensions under this proposal will begin on April 1, 2020, and will end on the date the federal emergency declaration is lifted (as by the President of the United States under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic), with an automatic sunset on December 31, 2020.

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A number of industry groups, including the National Grocers Association, the National Restaurant Association, the Food Industry Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, and 24 others, wrote a letter in support of Ernst’s FRNT LINE Act.

The “Financial Relief Noting The Large Impact Of Our Nation’s Essential Employees Act”(the FRNT LINE Act) directly addresses this need by providing federal income and payroll tax relief for front line workers, including those in the food and agriculture supply chain. Enactment of this legislation would be a tangible way to demonstrate our support for essential workers as they serve the nation during this difficult time while also incentivizing their continued commitment to work, the letter said.

NGA Backs Senator Ernst Frontline Workers Legislation

“This pandemic has illustrated not only the resiliency of independent grocers, but also how critically important independent grocers are for local communities and our nation’s food security. From meat cutters to grocery stockers, produce clerks to cashiers, distribution center order selectors to truck drivers, the independent supermarket rallied to support their communities and we are grateful for their willingness to step up during these challenging times,” said NGA President & CEO Greg Ferrara.

“On behalf of the independent supermarket operators, the wholesalers who serve them and their store associates who have worked tirelessly and performed heroically throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we offer our full support of this bill that recognizes those efforts,” added Ferrara.

Recognizing frontline workers through tax relief has strong support from the American public according to a poll of nearly 2,000 registered voters from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) conducted by Morning Consult.

Results from that poll show that eight in ten registered voters support providing food supply chain workers—grocery store workers (81%), agricultural and food production workers (79%), and farm workers (79%)—temporary tax relief during the coronavirus pandemic.

NGA members have helped urge their congressional representatives to provide grocery industry workers with well-deserved tax relief for their commitment during this pandemic. NGA members sent more than 3,200 letters in total, a record-setting amount of grassroots engagement from the independent supermarket industry.