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Biden to launch new tax credit for COVID-19 vaccine time off

Comes as the president announces reaching 200 million shots milestone

President Joe Biden is set to announce the availability of new tax credits to subsidize small and medium-sized businesses that provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The eligibility period will run from April 1 through Sept. 30, though it will not be retroactive to Jan. 1, per a White House official, who cited the economic recovery law that created the tax credit. That means employers who already gave folks paid leave will not be able to recoup those funds.

An administration official said the new tax credit, which will pay as much as $511 per day for up to 80 hours is part of what the Biden COVID-19 response team sees as the “next big opportunity.”

“Our research shows that employers are especially effective in reaching the remaining unvaccinated population,” the official told reporters on a background briefing ahead of the president’s announcement. “The president will call on every employer in America, small, medium, large, to give their employees any time off they need to get vaccinated with pay. And to give employees any time off needed if they feel under the weather after getting a shot with pay, also.”

The federal government is staying away from the question of whether particular employers should impose vaccine mandates for employees resuming normal operations, however, calling that a “decision that’s really up to companies, their employees, their culture and how they think about the issue.”

The president also will announce that the United States will reach a total of 200 million shots as of this week, a White House official told the press pool earlier Wednesday.

The administration seems to be hoping that the tax credit will incentivize employers to provide paid time off to employees who do not normally have covered paid leave benefits like sick pay.

“By providing paid time off for employees to get vaccinated, employers will not only be investing in their workforce, they’ll be investing in a safer workplace,” the official on the briefing said.

Recipients of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines currently in use in the United States from Pfizer and Moderna have reported a variety of generally short-lived side effects, but people often have to take off work the day or two after receiving particularly the second dose. Internal Revenue Service guidance is expected to make clear that paid leave for dealing with side effects from vaccines will be covered, as well.

“The credit applies to time off to get the vaccine or anyone who feels under the weather after the shot,” the official said. “By fully offsetting these costs, the tax credit supports small and medium sized businesses who step out to do the right thing for their employees.”

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