Glenn Thompson

The Giving Retailers and Our Convenience Employees Relief Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, R-Centre, on Tuesday, would create a federal tax holiday for employees working in food supply stores during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If enacted, the GROCER Act would exempt grocery and convenience store workers, who make less than $75,000 per year, from paying federal taxes on wages earned from Feb. 15 through June 15.

“It was just kind of a simple way to say ‘thank you’ for being one of those life-essential employees,” said Thompson, who represents the 15th Congressional District, during a telephone interview on Tuesday. 

“They’re on the front lines. They’re hard-working men and women. Quite frankly, in a time of crisis like this, we have to learn to fully appreciate these workers who play a valuable role in our food supply chain.”

Henry Armour, CEO of the National Association of Convenience Stores, said the bill is a “welcome response to these heroes who have continued to serve their communities,” in a prepared statement.

Workers in those jobs have been taking care of stores and interacting with the public during the pandemic shutdown, while millions of other people have been working from home or at locations where social distancing is easier to do.

“They’re exposed quite a bit there,” Thompson said. “But they’re going to work. They’re working to sanitize and to stock the shelves and really to serve our communities, our families to make sure the food is available.”

The GROCER Act is based on the idea of how military personnel receive a tax emption when they serve in harm’s way, which has applied to Thompson’s own family in the past. 

“Seeing that work firsthand with a son and a daughter-in-law, I took that idea and applied that to some of the folks that are probably some of the least recognized that are on the front lines in this fight against COVID-19,” Thompson said.

The proposed legislation, which was co-sponsored by U.S Rep. Dwight Evans, D-PA03, could be extended for an additional three months if needed.

“I’m hoping, if we’re able to get this enacted, we won’t see the need for an additional three months, that we will have defeated this virus and have reopened our economy,” Thompson said.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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