Essential Employees Would Benefit Under Senate Bill

Senator Ernst introduces the FRNT LINE Act to exempt frontline workers’ wages from federal income tax.

July 27, 2020

WASHINGTON—Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) last week introduced the FRNT LINE Act (S. 4213), which seeks to exempt wages earned by frontline workers in essential industries, including convenience stores, from federal income tax from April 1, 2020, until the end of the year. The legislation further exempts wages for those same workers who make less than $50,000 annually from federal payroll taxes.

NACS needs retailers’ help to ignite support for the bill among other senators to get this legislation included in the next round of federal stimulus legislation currently being negotiated. Please take a few moments to visit the NACS Grassroots Action Center and send senators a letter asking them to co-sponsor S. 4213 as soon as possible.

The FRNT LINE Act would provide an immediate benefit to essential workers by allowing them to increase their regular take-home pay by changing their withholdings. This method is one of the fastest ways possible to get additional funds into the hands of essential workers. House democrats included bonus pay for frontline workers in their version of a stimulus bill passed a few weeks ago, though in a different form.

“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 front-line 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.”

Ernst’s legislation comes on the heels of similar legislation introduced by a bipartisan pair of House members from Pennsylvania in May. Representatives G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Dwight Evans (D-PA) introduced the AG CHAIN Act, which has garnered additional bipartisan co-sponsors. 

The average salary of a c-store manager last year was $47,429, according to the NACS State of the Industry Compensation Report of 2019 Data. The average full-time associate wage was $11.75 an hour, the 2019 report indicates.