Starting January 1, Microsoft and
Yahoo! will increase the pay of gay workers receiving domestic
partner benefits to compensate for the extra tax they pay, the New
York Times reported.
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.
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.
Microsoft and Yahoo! are joining a
growing list of companies equalizing benefits for gay workers,
including Bank of America, Google, Morgan Stanley, Facebook and
American Express, among others.