APhA coronavirus watch: Pharmacists added to federal tax holiday legislation

[UPDATE: Pharmacy technicians have been added to the legislation.] Pharmacists will be included in legislation creating a tax holiday for health professionals and first responders who continue to serve during the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation, the Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Emergency Situations (HEROES) Act of 2020, initially did not include pharmacists as beneficiaries, but after a request from the APhA Government Affairs team, bill sponsor Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) added pharmacists to the list. 

The original bill only applied to physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, hospital and medical facility support staff, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, corrections officers, and law enforcement officers. Huizenga is expected to attempt to add the legislation to the next congressional COVID-19 legislative package, which will be considered later this month. 

The legislation would suspend federal tax withholding for 4 months and give U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin the authority to extend withholding for an additional 3 months. The tax holiday would apply to all income up to $150,000 annually, with income beyond that amount taxed at its regular rate. 

“The HEROES Act provides a way for the federal government to say thank you for the courage, dedication, and care given by these individuals in the face of the unprecedented threat posed by the coronavirus,” Huizenga said in a media release

According to Huizenga’s media release, the HEROES Act is modeled after the federal income tax exemption of members of the military serving in U.S. Department of Defense-designated combat zones.