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Google to Cover the Cost of Taxes that Burden Only LGBT Employees

July 6, 2010

Some good news from Google related to my post last week about research in the journal Health Affairs, which  found that same-sex couples in California are more likely to be uninsured than their straight peers and often have to pay more for their coverage.

Google announced last week that it will now cover the additional costs that same-sex couples have to pay in federal taxes to include their partners on their insurance plans.  As I pointed out in the piece last week, the issue comes down to what is considered a “dependent.”  From The New York Times:

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.

Also worth noting is that Google is doing something the federal government can’t.  They’ll be providing equivalent of the Family and Medical Leave Act to all same-sex partners, not just children (as was recently announced by the Department of Labor).  Additionally, Google is working on updating their health insurance programs to change the definition of infertility, which is “now defined as the inability to conceive a child with no stipulations on trying for one year.”

The NYT piece gives a lot of really good background on the current inequities faced by same-sex couples.  A few worth noting:

  • The provision in health reform efforts that would have corrected the fact that same-sex couples pay more for domestic partner health coverage was passed by the House, but lost in the final watering down of reform.
  • “The Kaiser Family Foundation says that 36 percent of large companies that offer health benefits provide coverage for same-sex domestic partners, and more than half of Fortune 500 companies provide domestic partner coverage — but few pay the extra costs of that coverage.”
  • Kimpton Hotels, Cisco, and the Gates Foundation also “gross up” to cover these inequalities.
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