San Francisco Considers Cutting-Edge Grossing Up Policy
February 6, 2013 by Cathryn Oakley, Legislative Counsel, State & Municipal Advocacy
This afternoon the Budget and Finance Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously recommended to the full Board of Supervisors a proposed ordinance that -- if passed and signed by the Mayor -- would make San Francisco the third and largest city to date to “gross up.”
Grossing up is when an employer offsets the tax penalty imposed upon an employee whose same-sex spouse receives health benefits as part of the employee’s benefits plan. Employees in federally-recognized marriages receive spousal benefits tax free, but for employees whose marriages are not recognized by the federal government – specifically, employees in same-sex marriages that DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing – those benefits are considered taxable income. This tax penalty can amount to thousands of dollars.
Grossing up ensures that employees are compensated equally and that all families are treated with the respect they deserve. Adopting such a policy is a strong statement by the employer that discrimination against its employees will not be tolerated, and more than 38 private employers and at least two cities have made that statement already. Cambridge, MA was the first city to offer grossing up for its employees, and Hallandale Beach, FL recently adopted such a policy as well.
Given San Francisco’s size and leadership on LGBT issues, its consideration of this policy could spur other cities to take similar action. The proposed ordinance will need to be heard twice by the full Board and signed by the Mayor before it becomes law, which may happen as soon as the end of this month.
To learn more about grossing up please visit HRC's resource section.
For more information about cities working toward municipal equality please visit: http://www.hrc.org/mei