Center for American Progress

ADVISORY: Unequal Taxes on Equal Benefits: The Taxation of Domestic Partner Benefits
Press Advisory

ADVISORY: Unequal Taxes on Equal Benefits: The Taxation of Domestic Partner Benefits

Monday, December 03, 2007 Program: 12:00pm to 1:30pm Admission is free.

A light lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m.

Featured Panelists:

M. V. Lee Badgett, Research Director, Williams Institute

Janet C. Boyd, Director of Government Relations, Tax and Benefits, The Dow Chemical Company

Jayme White, Legislative Director, Rep. Jim McDermott

Moderated by:

Winnie Stachelberg, Senior Vice President for External Affairs, Center for American Progress

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Employer-provided health insurance is the backbone of health coverage for American families, a system which is encouraged by exempting spousal and dependent health benefits from taxation. Nonetheless, even as many companies are realizing the importance of providing equal health benefits to all domestic partners, that coverage is taxed as income to the employee, creating an extra tax averaging $1,069 per year. The employers who provide these benefits are also penalized, paying a total of $57 million each year in payroll taxes on domestic partnership benefits. Although legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to remedy this problem (H.R. 1820, S. 1556), these equality taxes penalize same-sex and other domestic partnerships and inhibit businesses from adopting domestic partnership policies.

Please join a distinguished panel to discuss the implications of this unfair tax treatment. M. V. Lee Badgett will introduce her new report, “Unequal Taxes on Equal Benefits: The Taxation of Domestic Partner Benefits,” which presents original research on the extent of this inequality. The panel will also discuss the broader economic implications of the extra tax on domestic partner benefits.

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M. V. Lee Badgett is the research director at the Williams Institute. She is also the director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, and Associate Professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her book, Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men (University of Chicago Press) presents her ground-breaking work on sexual orientation discrimination and family policy. She is currently working on a new book asking whether same-sex marriage will change marriage or change GLB people, drawing on the U.S. and European experiences with same-sex marriage.

Janet C. Boyd was named Director of Government Relations, Tax and Benefits for The Dow Chemical Company’s Federal Affairs Office in Washington DC in September 2002.

Ms. Boyd has over 25 years of experience working on tax, benefits and other policy issues before Congress and various federal departments and agencies. Before joining Dow, Ms. Boyd was a partner in the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, L.L.P. She led the firm’s Public Policy and Law practice on tax, employee benefits and other corporate issues. Ms. Boyd began her career working as a legislative aide on a number of issues for Congressman Kika de la Garza (D-TX). She also has extensive corporate governance experience serving on a number of boards of tax exempt organizations. She currently serves as president of Charities Aid Foundation America, an organization that supports global philanthropy of U.S. corporate and individual taxpayers residing throughout the world.

Ms. Boyd is a graduate of the University of Texas-Austin with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and the George Washington University National Law Center where she received a juris doctorate degree. Ms. Boyd is a Member of the Bar in the District of Columbia and a member of the American Bar Association.

In July 2004, Ms. Boyd began serving as Chair of the Employers’ Coalition on Medicare (ECOM), a group headquartered in Washington DC, and consisting of over 60 associations and companies representing the interests of employers in the federal Medicare reform efforts. She also serves on the Boards of the Corporate Health Care Coalition, the American Benefits Council, and the Tax Council.

Jayme White currently serves as Legislative Director to Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA). Congressman McDermott is a senior member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and serves as its chairman of the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support. White plays a key role in shaping Democratic policies on the Internal Revenue Code, international trade, and domestic programs aimed to improve economic security for working Americans.

White is currently working with his Hill colleagues and a broad coalition of businesses and pro-development NGOs to attain Congressional passage of robust trade preferences for the world’s least developed countries, and to ensure that workers and entrepreneurs in those nations have the capacity to take full advantage these new trade opportunities. He recently worked on innovative legislation improving policies to help workers challenged by globalization, such as Unemployment Insurance modernization and the creation of national wage insurance. In 2004, White worked closely with the Republican and Democratic staff of the Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees to craft legislation reshaping the landmark Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, a law that liberalizes trade between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa. The Thomas-McDermott bill won overwhelming bi-partisan approval by the Congress and was signed into law by President George W. Bush at a White House ceremony.

Before joining Congressman McDermott’s Washington, DC, staff, White was an entrepreneur in Seattle, his hometown, where he operated a successful independent record company. He has a long history of civic involvement in public policy issues. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University and is a Masters candidate at Georgetown’s Public Policy Institute. White lives in Washington, DC.

Winnie Stachelberg is the Senior Vice President for External Affairs. Prior to joining the Center, she spent 11 years with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay civil rights organization. In January 2005, Stachelberg was appointed to the newly created position of Vice President of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Charged with revamping HRC’s Foundation, Stachelberg’s early priorities included building a think tank, launching a religion and faith program and rebuilding the National Coming Out Project. Previously, she was HRC’s political director, initiating and leading the expansion of HRC’s legislative, political and electoral strategies. Stachelberg joined HRC in 1994 as senior health policy advocate and helped to establish the organization as a key advocate in HIV/AIDS, lesbian health and other health care issues affecting the GLBT community. Before joining HRC, Stachelberg worked at the Office of Management and Budget in both the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations, formulating and reviewing health care policies and budgets for the Department of Health and Human Services. A native New Yorker, Stachelberg taught at George Washington High School after graduating Georgetown University. She received a Master of Public Administration from George Washington University.

The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy advances sexual orientation law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates it to judges, legislators, policy makers, media and the public. A national think tank at UCLA School of Law, the Williams Institute produces high quality research with real-world relevance. Experts at the Williams Institute have authored dozens of public policy studies and law review articles, filed amicus briefs in key court cases, provided expert testimony at legislative hearings, been widely cited in the national media, and trained thousands of lawyers, judges, and members of the public. The Williams Institute’s work on this report was funded by a generous grant from Merrill Lynch.