Palm Beach County Constitutional Tax Collector Anne M. Gannon announced today it has implemented a policy to offset the additional taxes paid by employees who elect to provide health insurance to their domestic partners. The action was taken upon the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
"Tax Collector Gannon's pro-family tax equity policy is to be commended," said Council President Rand Hoch.
Under federal tax laws, unmarried employees with domestic partners and same-sex married couples are taxed on the imputed value of employer-paid family health insurance benefits. In contrast, opposite-sex married employees with the same family coverage are not taxed on the value of that same family health insurance coverage.
Federal legislation to amend the Internal Revenue Code to end the taxation of health insurance benefits provided to domestic partners was first introduced in 2003 by Florida Senator Bob Graham; however, no progress has been made at the national level.
"My employees whose families are based on domestic partnerships pay more federal taxes than married employees for the same family health insurance coverage," said Gannon. "That is unfair. I won't wait any longer for Congress to end this inequity."
Gannon's tax equity policy provides employees who elect to insure their domestic partners with an annual tax equity reimbursement of $500.00 to mitigate the impact of the additional income taxes paid by employees with domestic partners. The policy goes into effect this month.
TD Bank announced recently that it will begin offsetting the tax burden that its employees pay for domestic-partner benefits. Other private employers who have implemented similar programs include American Express, Apple, Bank of America Corp.,Cisco Systems Inc, Corning, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Google, Kimpton Hotels, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley and Yahoo!
Last month, Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits also implemented a similar tax equity program for his employees
"Palm Beach County's elected officials such as Tax Collector Anne Gannon and Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits know it is unfair to wait for Congress to pass a law to ease the tax burden on employees who insure their domestic partners," said Hoch. "They are among the few elected officials nationwide who have acted to level the playing field for their employees."
In public employment, only Cambridge (Massachusetts), Hallandale Beach (Florida). Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits, and now Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon have taken steps to address this tax inequity, according to Hoch.
West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio recently informed the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council that the City of West Palm Beach will consider a tax equity program for the city's municipal employees. Attorneys for the cities of West Palm Beach and Miami Beach are working together to draft a policy which they hope will become the model for tax equity programs for public employers nationwide.