Orange County’s tax collector is attempting to even things up between straight employees who can get legally married and LGBT employees who cannot.
Scott Randolph, Constitutional Tax Collector, has instituted the Domestic Partnership Tax Equity Policy which establishes a stipend to reimburse tax collector’s office employees who are discriminated against by the federal tax code’s treatment of domestic partner health benefits.
The stipend is not considered salary, as that would be taxed. The amount depends what coverage the employee seeks —which depends on whether it’s just the employee’s partner added to their health care or children as well—but will range from $350 to $1,300 annually.
“It really makes the employee whole and doesn’t penalize them for wanting to add their partner or their children to their health care,” Randolph said.
Randolph said signing up for the domestic partner registry would be considered a qualifying event, and employees who have done that can qualify for the stipend immediately. New employees or employees who have not yet qualified would have to wait until open enrollment in October to apply for the stipend.
He said because of privacy issues, he’s not sure how many of his 232 employees will benefit from the stipend.
“I’ve had several come up and say thank you,” Randolph said. “I don’t know if they’ll take full advantage of it but they’re very happy the option is there now.”
He said the hope is that this will “spread to other government entities around Orange County” to increase the impact.
“I’ve started some conversations with some of the other constitutional officers and there may be movement there,” Randolph said.
He has received some negative feedback; “A couple of emails, but that’s to be expected.”
Mostly, Randoph said the feedback has been very positive, “even from non-employees.”
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