Starting Thursday, Google will increase
the pay of gay workers receiving domestic partner benefits to
compensate for the extra tax they pay, the New York Times
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). The
benefits are not considered taxable income for married heterosexual
Google said the pay increase will be
retroactive to the start of the year.
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.
“Collectively, unmarried couples lose
$178 million per year to additional taxes,” the report says. “U.S.
employers also pay a total of $57 million per year in additional
payroll taxes because of this unequal tax treatment.”
Last year, Representative Jim
McDermott, a Democrat from Washington, sought to address the benefits
inequity. Language from his Tax Equity for Health Plan
Beneficiaries Act of 2009 was included in the health reform
overhaul approved by the House.
McDermott told the New York Times
that the bill would “correct a longstanding injustice, end a
blatant inequity in the tax code and help make health care coverage
more affordable for more Americans.”
House lawmakers also approved language
that would make it illegal to discriminate based on “personal
characteristics” in the delivery of care, a reference that would
have included sexual orientation and gender identity.
But neither provision was included in
the final bill signed by President Barack Obama.
Google is not the first company to
offer the extra pay, but the company's huge influence in Silicon
Valley and throughout the world is expected to spur adoption by other
Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (IGLCC) ranked the
California-based search engine giant second after IBM in offering
LGBT employees the best work environment among international
debuted on the group's annual survey in 2010.