San Francisco city employees will soon receive tax relief for health benefits they receive for their same-sex partners in legislation given unanimous initial approval today by the city's Board of Supervisors. Health benefits in same-sex partnerships are currently taxed by the federal government as income while heterosexual couples' benefits are not.
Legislation introduced by Supervisor Mark Farrell will reimburse nearly 400 city employees who receive that tax, which can total more than $1,750 annually.
"This is ultimately an issue of equality," Farrell said. "We can't and should not stand still in San Francisco while this discrimination continues."
The legislation, which was passed 11-0 and will return in front of the board next week for final approval, will cost about $616,000 per year to the city's general fund while same-sex partnerships are not recognized by the federal government.
The U.S. Supreme Court next month is considering cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex partnerships, as well as California's Proposition 8, a ban on same-sex marriages in the state.
State Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, has also introduced legislation that will address a secondary tax levied by the state on the federal reimbursements.
California companies like Facebook and Google already offer the reimbursements for same-sex couples, which are then taxed by the state to the tune of an average of $540 per year.
Ting's legislation, Assembly Bill 362, would exempt those reimbursements from state taxation.