Clerk Offers Domestic Partner Insurance Benefit To Employees

Employees who cover their domestic partners through the Palm Beach County Clerk’s Office health insurance plans will receive federal tax relief on these insurance premiums, under a new policy signed this month by Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock.

Under the Domestic Partner Tax Equity Policy, employees with qualified domestic partners who are enrolled in the clerk’s health, dental or vision plans will have their pay grossed up to offset the additional federal taxes paid on these insurance premiums. Federal tax laws treat those insurance benefits as additional income for the employee, and are subject to additional income tax burden.

Married employees, whose spouses and children are covered by the clerk’s health, dental and vision insurance plans, are not subject to the same tax burden.

“This is a fairness issue,” Bock said. “I want to ensure our employees are treated equally. That means employees with domestic partners should not have to pay more for their insurance coverage than their married colleagues who cover their spouses’ health insurance.”

Bock enacted the policy in collaboration with the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. The clerk’s office joins other government agencies — including Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, the Palm Beach County Tax Collector’s Office and the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office — in reimbursing employees or offering stipends to offset the tax burden for employees.

“It is critical that we work with governments and businesses to make them aware of these issues, and enact policies that eliminate inequalities in the workplace,” said Rand Hoch, president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.

Many of the clerk’s employees who will be affected by the policy are in opposite-sex domestic partnerships. The Clerk’s office began offering domestic partner benefits to employees in 2004.

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