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Harvard to offset federal tax burden for employees in same-sex marriages

Posted by Your Town  April 18, 2013 12:08 PM

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Harvard will give an extra $1,500 per year to its employees who extend health care benefits to their same-sex spouses, to help offset the federal taxes that same-sex couples are required to pay under federal law, the university announced earlier this week.

Employees who live in states where only civil unions are permitted will also be eligible for this “tax equalization payment,” the university said Monday in a statement. More than 100 couples will benefit from the new policy, which is effective this month.

“This policy will help Harvard attract the best talent,” said Michael Goetz, a Harvard Divinity School employee and past co-chair of the Harvard LGBT Faculty and Staff Committee. “But what it comes down to for me is, it’s the right and just thing to do. Harvard’s seen as a leader in the higher-education world, and it’s a place whose leaders are concerned with doing the right thing.”

According to the current federal law, employees may extend their health care coverage to a same-sex spouse, but the spouse is taxed on the fair market value of the medical plan. Even though eight states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages for tax reasons.

Charles Curti, director of human resources at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, said that the university has been considering a policy change since last summer.

“Everyone across the University was very supportive of the concept,” Curti said. “There’s been a strong desire on the part of the LGBT community to have this come to pass.”

Katherine Landergan can be reached at klandergan@globe.com. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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