By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com February 15 2013 2:56 PM ET
LGBT activists and leaders at Facebook all came out in support of legislation introduced by California State Assemblymember Phil Ting on Valentine's Day that will greatly benefit anyone in a same-sex relationship. Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco, and San Francisco County Supervisor Mark Farrell announced the introduction of state legislation AB 362, to provide tax relief for employees who receive reimbursement from their employer for federal taxes they paid on healthcare benefits provided to their same-sex partner and dependents.
“At the heart of this issue is a question of fairness for same-sex couples,” Ting told reporters. “The federal policy to tax their benefits is discriminatory, and the last thing the state of California should do is make it harder to remedy the injustice by taxing the reimbursement of these costs.”
Farrell, a longtime LGBT ally, proposed a measure last fall which, if enacted, would require the city and county of San Francisco to reimburse its employees for federal taxes they must pay on benefits provided to a same-sex partner. The federal government assesses taxes on these benefits because it does not recognize same-sex unions. Similar benefits offered to heterosexual couples are not considered taxable. Under current state law, the reimbursements provided by an employer, such as those contemplated in San Francisco, would be considered income to the employee, and subject to taxation by the state of California.
“Same-sex couples should not be required to pay more income taxes than others simply due to the nature of their partner relationship,” he said. “This legislation will expand on legislation I introduced in City hall for San Francisco, and expand it across California.”
AB 362, authored by Ting, would cover anyone in a same-sex partner relationship who works for a private or public companies and organizations tthat reimburses their employees for federal taxes they pay on benefits received for their partner and dependents, includng Facebook, Google, and Kimpton (all supporters of the legislation).
The legislation is sponsored by Equality California. "We can't end DOMA from the statehouse, but we can make sure that California is not part of the problem. Equality California is so pleased to champion this legislation to right the wrong of loving same-sex couples being unfairly taxed," said John O'Connor, Equality California executive director.