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Google to compensate gay and lesbian employees for unequal tax treatment

Google to compensate gay and lesbian employees for unequal tax treatment

Google announced on Thursday that it will begin compensating gay and lesbian employees for an extra tax they must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits — a tax that married straight couples are not required to pay.

From the San Jose Mercury News:

While a few organizations, such as Cisco and the Kimpton Hotel chain, have already begun to “gross up” their employees pay to address the disparity in how workplace health benefits for same-sex and heterosexual married couples are taxed, Google’s powerhouse status could fuel the trend, putting pressure on other employers to follow suit and on policy-makers to restructure how domestic-partner health benefits are taxed.

“Google is really taking a leadership role here,” said Daryl Herrschaft, director of the Workplace Project for the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. “This is a really important step for gay and lesbian employees because it eliminates a tax burden they’re subject to because their families aren’t recognized under federal law.”

Under federal law, employer-provided health benefits for domestic partners are counted as taxable income, if the partner is not considered a dependent. The tax owed is based on the value of the partner’s coverage paid by the employer.

On average, employees with domestic partners will pay about $1,069 more a year in taxes than a married employee with the same coverage, reports The New York Times.

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