WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation is backing legislation introduced today that would give businesses a tax credit intended to help defer the cost of employee testing, personal protective equipment, cleaning and other steps needed to make workplaces safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Consumer-facing businesses are confronting considerable new costs to make their locations safe for their customers and employees,” said NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French. “This tax credit addresses many of those new expenses, including the costs of re-configuring stores and restaurants to provide more social distancing, and ongoing costs for protective gear and cleaning. A tax credit is particularly helpful for businesses that are facing reduced sales after months of being closed and are encountering these costs as they take the steps necessary to assure their customers that it is safe to return.”
The Healthy Workplace Tax Credit would be created under legislation introduced today by Representative Tom Rice, R-S.C., a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. The measure would provide a refundable tax credit against payroll taxes for 50 percent of costs incurred by businesses for COVID-19 testing, PPE, 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.
A 40-employee retail store or restaurant, for example, that spends $60,000 on covered costs would receive a $30,000 tax credit. If the credit exceeds the business’s employer payroll tax obligations, the excess would be provided in the form of a refund.
NRF has worked with members of the Ways and Means Committee to seek introduction of the bill. Some mid-size retailers have reported that the cost of safety measures can be as high as $1 million a week. Face masks alone can cost $1 per employee per day, or $30,000 a day for a 30,000-employee retailer. Safety is a key issue as retailers reopen from the ongoing pandemic, and NRF this week called on all retailers to adopt a nationwide policy requiring customers to wear face coverings or masks.
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