Roundtable Weekly
Coalition Urges Congress to Help Businesses with COVID-Related Cleaning, Safety, and Prevention Expenses
July 18, 2020

A broad business coalition urged Congress on July 16 to include assistance in the next pandemic response package to help businesses offset extra expenses related to heightened cleanliness and safety of work environments in the COVID-19 era. (Coalition letter, July 16)

  • The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (ISSA) is leading the coalition, which includes The Real Estate Roundtable, Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, International Council of Shopping Centers, and over two dozen additional national trade groups.
  • ISSA estimates that cleaning costs are 50% or higher compared to pre-pandemic practices due to increased use of disinfecting products, equipment upgrades, and greater frequency of cleaning activities. ISSA estimates a 3,000 square retail space will cost an additional $56,160 in cleaning-related costs – on top of personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, employee training, and other COVID-19-related expenses.
  • Several bipartisan bills pending in the House and Senate would establish a tax credit to help businesses and nonprofits cover more expensive safety and cleaning practices. Hill legislators are considering whether such incentives should be included in the next phase of pandemic relief legislation that may pass Congress before the August recess. 

Various “re-opening tax credit” bills introduced to date differ in terms of the size of the incentive they would offer, and the kinds of safety-related expenses they would cover. (The Hill, July 16) These bills include:

  • The Clean Start: Back to Work Tax Credit Act (H.R. 7079) introduced by Reps. Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), which would provide a 50% tax credit for the costs of qualified cleaning expenses including third-party janitorial services, cleaning products, PPE, and related tools and machinery. The bill proposes a credit maximum of $250,000 per business entity, up to $25,000 per location.
  • The Healthy Workplaces Tax Credit Act introduced by Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), would offer a refundable tax credit for 50% of business’s costs incurred for COVID-19 testing, PPE, cleaning and disinfecting, and reconfiguring work spaces to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The credit would be limited to $1,000 per employee for a business’s first 500 employees; $750 per employee for the next 500 employees; and $500 per employee for each subsequent employee. 
  • Similar measures include a small business “workplace safety” tax credit (S. 4178) introduced by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND); the “Safe Re-Opening Tax Credit” (H.R. 7222) introduced by Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA); and the “Small Business PPE Tax Credit Act” (H.R. 7216) introduced by Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI).

The ISSA-spearheaded coalition explained in its letter that any “re-opening tax credit” should be targeted, temporary, capped, and available to business entities and non-profits regardless of size. The letter noted that such a tax credit would help protect against further COVID-19 infections and other respiratory conditions such as asthma, MRSA and influenza. 

A COVID-induced healthy workplace tax credit would be “critical to the safety of Americans as businesses re-open and workers return to their jobs. The proposal will also prepare workplaces to better deal with future emerging pathogens that we could be confronted with in the future,” the coalition letter concludes.  

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