Google will begin covering the extra tax burden assumed by gay and lesbian employees when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits, reports The New York Times. These employer-provided benefits are considered taxable income—which heterosexual, married couples do not have to pay.
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, according to a 2007 report by M. V. Lee Badgett, director of the Williams Institute, a research group that studies sexual orientation policy issues. So Google is essentially going to cover those costs, putting same-sex couples on an even footing with heterosexual employees whose spouses and families receive health benefits.
The company began to look at the disparity after a gay employee pointed it out, said Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president for people operations. Google, by the way, says its benefits team seriously considers any suggestions on how to expand its coverage.
The new policy is effective today and the increase will be retroactive to January 1. The information technology behemoth will also make several other changes to benefit LGBT employees, such as including domestic partners in its family leave policy.
Google also donated money in the fight against Proposition 8. It's great they're socially responsible and attempting to equalize their suite of employee benefits. Here's looking to the day when that inequality is resolved.