Media giant Time Warner will begin
absorbing the extra tax gay workers in domestic partnerships, civil
unions or marriages pay for spousal health benefits.
Unlike heterosexual employees,
employer-provided health benefits offered to the partners of gay
workers are counted as taxable income by the IRS (unless the partner
is considered a dependent), because their unions are not recognized
by federal agencies. Blocking the IRS from recognizing gay unions is
the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that defines
marriage as a heterosexual union.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest gay rights advocate, announced the change in a blog
“HRC worked with Time Warner in
taking this next step toward full equality for their LGBT employees,”
A report released in 2007 by M. V. Lee
Badgett, research director at the Williams Institute, found that gay
employees with partners pay, on average, $1,069 per year more in
taxes than would a married employee with the same coverage.
Time Warner is joining a growing list
of companies equalizing benefits for gay workers, including
Microsoft, Yahoo!, Bank of America, Google, Morgan Stanley, Facebook
and American Express, among others.