Domestic Partner Bill Reintroduced in Senate

July 5, 2005 ( - A bill that would change the taxation rules on domestic partner benefits has been reintroduced in the Senate.

>The Domestic Partner Health Benefits Equity Act (S. 1702 in the 108th Congress), introduced by Senator Gordon H. Smith (R-Oregon) and Charles Schumer (D-New York), would amend the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to treat those couples the same as married couples for the purposes of partner benefits, according to the Human Rights Campaign.   The current tax code treats domestic partner benefits as income, creating an additional tax burden on both the employees using the benefits and on businesses providing them, according to the advocacy group.

>Trends suggest that a growing number – certainly a growing number of larger employers – are now offering such benefits.   At least 8,250 employers provided domestic partnership health benefits in 2004, up 13% from the previous year, according to a report by the Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender political organization.   The organization says that among the Fortune 500, 216 companies (43%) provided domestic partner benefits, and that 17 Fortune 500 companies added the benefits in 2004, a 9% increase from the year earlier (see  Advocacy Group Survey: Domestic Partner Benefits Up 13% in 2004 ).  

Trend Lines

>A number of other industry surveys also support the existence of that trend.   A recent survey by Hewitt Associates found that more than half (56%) of the 281 US employers surveyed offer domestic partner benefits to their employees, and that offerings of the benefit were up 34% over the past five years at those larger employers (see  Domestic Partner Benefit Offerings Continue to Spread ).   Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions (HR&IS), now part of ACS, reported in February that 31% of employers surveyed now offer domestic partner benefits, compared with just 19% who did so in 2001 (see  Study: Domestic Benefit Distribution Up Considerably Since 2001 ).   Additionally, the annual BLR Survey of Employee Benefits shows that the number of employers offering benefits to domestic partners has increased over the past two years, with 13% offering such benefits in 2003 compared to 19% in 2005 for exempt and nonexempt office employees (see  Survey: Domestic Partner Benefits Up, Signing Bonuses Down in 2005 ).