The National Retail Federation urged the Senate earlier this week in a letter to approve legislation that would create a new tax credit intended to ease the cost of safety steps taken by stores and other workplaces during the coronavirus pandemic.
The legislation, introduced Monday by Senator Rob Portman, would establish a refundable tax credit against payroll taxes for 50% of costs incurred by businesses for COVID-19 safety measures like testing, personal protective equipment, disinfecting, extra cleaning and reconfiguring workspaces. The credit is limited to $1,000 per employee per quarter for a company’s first 500 employees, $750 for the next 500 and $500 for each employee thereafter
“It is essential that we bring our economy back by ensuring that the consuming public is safe to shop again and that the retail associates that assist them are safe as well,” said David French, NRF senior vice president for government relations, in the letter. “The Healthy Workplace Tax Credit will go a long way to provide some additional liquidity for making the necessary investments in our stores and workers.”
This new measure is similar to legislation introduced in the House last week by Representative Tom Rice, which the NRF supported, and the NRF has requested that the tax credit be included in a comprehensive coronavirus relief bill currently being drafted by House and Senate leadership.
Safety is “retailers’ top priority as stores reopen during the pandemic,” according to the NRF, and the group began calling on retailers earlier this month to adopt a nationwide policy requiring customers to wear face coverings, but that does not come without a price. Mid-size retailers have told NRF the cost of safety measures can be as high as $1 million a week. Face masks alone are reportedly costing $30,000 a day for a 30,000-employee retailer.
Adelaide “Addie” Elliott is an associate editor focusing on retail coverage for Furniture Today and Casual Living. Previously, she also served as the web editor for both those brands and Designers Today. Before being promoted in May 2019 to web editor, Adelaide worked as Furniture Today’s editorial intern for a year. Get in touch with her on Twitter at @AElliott_Writes or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.