Laws Affecting Benefits

Human Resources Notice Regarding Same-Sex Spousal Benefits and Change in Federal Taxation

CWRU Human Resources is available to process requests and answer questions regarding benefits available to same-sex couples, in light of recent federal guidance on federal tax treatment of same-sex marriages. As you may have heard, the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have recently ruled that same-sex couples who are married in any domestic or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage will be treated as married for federal tax purposes, regardless of where they reside.   Same-sex marriage is recognized by the District of Columbia and 16 states, as well as certain foreign jurisdictions such as Canada.

In the past, same-sex spousal health benefit contributions were taxable under federal tax law.  This ruling means that same-sex spousal health benefit contributions for individuals who were validly married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage will no longer be subject to federal taxes and the value of CWRU-provided benefits for same-sex spouses of CWRU employees will not be treated as income to that employee.  Under existing law, same-sex spousal health benefit contributions will still be subject to applicable state and local taxes if the state of residence does not recognize same-sex marriage.  Additional federal guidance will be issued in the future regarding tax treatment of other benefits, such as retirement plans and health savings accounts. 

If you are affected by this ruling, you may update your benefits information by supplying a marriage certificate or other spousal status documentation under the CWRU benefits verification requirements, which also include immigration papers that identify an employee-spouse relationship, or the top half of the a current federal tax form 1040 identifying an employee-spouse relationship.  Once your benefits information is updated, steps will be taken so that your spousal health benefit contributions will not be subject to federal taxes, and appropriate adjustments will be made.

CWRU benefits eligibility and federal tax treatment for domestic partners (including those who are in a registered domestic partnership, civil union or other formal relationship) who are not in a valid marriage to a benefits-eligible employee will continue in effect as previously provided to such domestic partners who meet the eligibility requirements for such benefits.

Please contact the CWRU Human Resources’ Office of Benefits Administration at 368-6781 or with questions regarding spousal and domestic partner benefits.   For more information on the federal tax treatment of same-sex spousal benefits, you may wish to review the IRS Ruling 2013-17 and the IRS Frequently Asked Questions