Volume 49, Issue 5 - May 2014


What’s The Impact of Expanding Marriage Benefits on Your Business?

As of February 2014, 17 states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. Even those glass companies with human resources managers celebrating the march to equality may frown when it comes to navigating the ways in which same-sex marriages impact health care costs and company-wide policies.

For federal tax purposes, the IRS looks to state or foreign law to determine whether individuals are married. In addition, the IRS has a general rule recognizing a marriage of same-sex spouses that was entered validly into in a state whose laws so authorize it, even if the married couple resides in a jurisdiction that does not recognize the validity of same-sex marriages.

What does this mean for glass companies doing business in those 17 states and the District? It means that some companies may see rising health care costs as employees bring their partners onto their benefits plans.

“It will have an impact to the extent that they weren’t offering same sex benefits before, they’re going to have new dependents entering their plan and that will potentially increase their costs,” says Bruce Elliott, the manager of compensation and benefits for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va. He adds, “Here’s the thing: most organizations already offer domestic partner benefits, whether they are opposite or same sex couples. The real difference is if they hadn’t offered domestic partner benefits in states that have legalized same sex marriage they now have to enroll same sex spouses.”

Elliott adds that this and other potential changes should be reflected in the company’s employee manual. “It would be good practice to update the HR manuals if they are in a state that has legalized same sex marriage or if their state court has overturned a state constitutional ban on same sex marriage.”


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