Progress in LGBT related tax equality in Europe, United States alike


Germany’s conservative government has become the latest administration to consider tax reform that would grant same-sex couples the same tax perks as heterosexual couples. This marks a dramatic policy shift for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Party following their December congress where a proposal of tax equality was rejected.

This apparent shift in policy from Chancellor Angela Merkel demonstrates the growing momentum around Europe for equalizing tax laws. The move from Merkel is an indication that this issue is gaining broad support and would extend the CDU’s appeal ahead of Germany’s September election.

The matter of tax fairness remains a relatively new one in legislation, especially in jurisdictions where marriage equality does not exist. The state of California only recently heard a proposal that would grant tax relief to same-sex couples.

“This is needed because there is unfair tax treatment of same-sex couples whether married or not,” proponent of the legislation and California Assembly member Phil Ting told 429Magazine.

California’s Assembly Bill 362 aims to bring fairness to a situation whereby health benefits received by one same-sex partner from the other are taxed by the federal government as income. Then, when companies reimburse this tax to employees, the state taxes this reimbursement.

The legislation, if passed, would provide a state tax exemption and would cover persons in a same-sex relationship who work for public entities or for private sector companies who opt in.

Ting explained that “some companies have tried to equalize [taxes]” and that this law would ensure gay couples were “not further penalized” by state tax regulations.

The Bill is strongly supported by Facebook, one of the big companies that offer tax reimbursement to LGBT employees. The legislation is also a preventative measure in the event that there is a delay in overturning California’s Proposition 8, to be utilized ahead of the ruling by the Supreme Court expected in late June this year.

“I believe it is an interim measure before the end of marriage discrimination,” acknowledged Ting. “Hopefully the Supreme Court repeals Prop 8.”

At the local level, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to exempt City and County employees and their same-sex partners from the initial federal income tax they incur on health benefits. The proposed legislation, put forward by Supervisor Mark Farrell, passed unanimously (11-0) and will return to the Board for final approval next week.  


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