Barclays Plc, the third largest bank in the United Kingdom, is joining the likes of Google by offering to reimburse gay workers for the taxes they pay on health benefits provided to their domestic partners. Good for Barclays, but shame on the government for continuing inequitable practices. Legally married same-sex couples are still not able to file a joint federal tax return, potentially costing them thousands in tax savings.
The aim is to offset the tax on benefits for same-sex partners that doesn’t apply to spouses in heterosexual marriages because same-sex partnerships aren’t recognized as marriages under U.S. law, the London-based bank said today in a statement. The change will take effect Jan. 1, according to the bank, which bought the U.S. business of bankrupt Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008.
Barclays may be leading the U.S. financial-services industry in offering such tax-equalization payments. Google, in Mountain View, California, Cisco Systems Inc., based in San Jose, California, and San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants are the only other for-profit companies to publicly disclose such reimbursement benefits, according to the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign.
“We are introducing this payment to proactively offset the additional tax,” Mark Lane, a spokesman for Barclays Capital, said in an e-mailed statement. “We believe that by offering this, we will further our efforts to promote an inclusive environment.” Barclays will reimburse employees through a separate payment rather than an increase in base salary, Lane said.