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
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