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Google To Add Pay To Cover a Tax For Gays 1036

Posted by samzenpus
from the same-sex-compensation dept.
GrApHiX42 writes "Starting on Thursday, Google is going to increase the salaries of gay and lesbian employees whose partners receive domestic partner health benefits, largely to compensate them for an extra tax they must pay that heterosexual married couples do not. Google is not the first company to make up for the extra tax. At least a few large employers already do. But benefits experts say Google's move could inspire its Silicon Valley competitors to follow suit, because they compete for the same talent."
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Google To Add Pay To Cover a Tax For Gays

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  • by bbqsrc (1441981) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:03AM (#32754252) Homepage
    Why is it okay to discriminate against people in such an expensive way? That's like taxing tampons or pads because they know that 50% of people need them. It conflicts with the Christian moral agenda in the first place in so many ways...
    • by txoof (553270) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:23AM (#32754336) Homepage

      This is the angle I can never figure out. Homosexuality isn't like robbery or assault, it doesn't affect anyone except for those that participate in it. And, no, alternative sexual orientation is not a crime. The argument that a extending rights such as marriage to gay couples somehow lessens the social value of marriage is ridiculous. Following that same logical path, all those that do not practice christian marriage (Jewish, Islamic, Navajo) are also decreasing the social value of "christian" marriage.

      I hope that Google's position in this matter will help influence other companies and eventually federal and state policies positively. If enough companies throw their weight behind this issue, it will become standard to offer a salary benefit for gay partners to cover the tax difference. Once it becomes standard, you can bet that companies will start lobbying congress to solve this problem in order to save them money.

      Aside from the tax issues, how can anyone that appreciates the freedoms offered by our constitution and the rationale backing it in the declaration of independence, willfully discriminate against another based solely on private, personal preference? After all, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal."

      • Homosexuality isn't like robbery or assault, it doesn't affect anyone except for those that participate in it.

        It affects the people who are offended by it. They are offended--outraged even. And in a democratic society, these outraged people have a voice, and these voices in total are loud enough to force governments to punish the people who's behavior caused the offended people to become offended.

        In fact, offense doesn't even really come into it. You can just have enough people who simply don't like another group and who will vote in punitive laws that will punish that group for simply existing. This is Democracy 101, otherwise known as the Tyranny of the Majority or at least the tyranny of the people who control the majority.

        And this is largely how democracy is practiced today. And in case you think this only works one way, consider other things which have been banned/restricted like indoor smoking, fox hunting and chemical equipment ownership. In an age where the will of the people is absolute, people get what they vote for; or what other people paid to get them to vote for.

      • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @07:25AM (#32755022)

        A guy in CA was collecting signatures for a bill to really protect the value and sanctity of marriage. He was trying to ban divorce.

        Strangely, not many of these people were willing to sign.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I am tired of people saying that gays do not have the same marriage rights as everyone else. I don't know if you have noticed, but every place that does not allow gay marriage also prohibits heterosexuals from marrying someone of the same sex as well.
      • by medcalf (68293) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @09:07AM (#32755832) Homepage

        I'm all for getting the State out of marriage. That should be a religious proposition, rather than a civil one. Benefits, taxes and the like should simply not take into account people's marital status, and instead should treat each adult as an independent entity. If you want to create a default "we share everything" contract, that allows for things like making decisions about childcare, powers of attorney and the like automatic, and that any set of people can go down to the justice of the peace and obtain for a nominal fee, I see no problem with that. It would provide the benefits marriage now provides, without the State getting involved in people's relationships.

        However, your read of the Declaration is way off. It was an argument against private judgement, but an argument against class. By declaring that all men are created equal, the Declaration says that the circumstances of your birth (the wealth of your parents, the color of your skin, physical handicaps and so forth) do not change your value as a person. In other words, aristocracy is (if you accept the Declaration's self-evident truths) inherently a perversion of natural law, setting some above others by the mere circumstances of their birth.

        The immediate problem that arises is "what about slavery?" If we're all supposed to be created equal, why did that not apply to slaves. The answer is not a moral answer, but a crass political answer. The economy of the South was predicated on slavery; take away slavery and the South would have sunk into deep poverty. (Even if not true, and I am not convinced that it is true, it was a view nearly universally held by Southerners in the 1780s, when the Constitution was written.) The question of allowing slavery was thus an existential question for the South: if slavery were not allowed, the southern states could not be part of the United States and continue to exist with any hope of prosperity. For the North, slavery was not an issue, simply because their economy was predicated on shipping and trade instead of pre-industrial agriculture. So for the northern states, the imperative was to hold the states together into a single country, to avoid the constant warfare that existed in Europe from the fall of Rome to the end of WWII. Essentially, the South would not yield on slavery, and the North would not yield on there being a single nation in the former colonies. The obvious compromise was to allow slavery, despite the fact that it was a contravention of the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

        If you see in that the setup for the Civil War, congratulations. It has been said that all of American history can be summed up as "Pickett's Charge, the events leading to it and the consequences thereof." This misunderstanding of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, along with the death of Federalism (particularly subsidiarity) and the triumph of the French Enlightenment over the English Enlightenment, are some of the sadder of those consequences.

      • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @02:01PM (#32760432) Homepage Journal
        You know, I've discussed this issue with my mother and some of my closest friends quite often. You see, being raised in the country, I was subjected to a lot of typcal, 'orthodox' Christian upbringing. I was always taught homosexuality was wrong and blah blah blah...When I grew up I got a brain and started thinking for myself. So then I started discussing these matters, with more rigor and critical thought than previously, with my family and friends. My mother and a few of my friends are, quite openly, appalled by homosexuality. As such, I have tried to discuss with them, many times, what kind of logical reasoning they can use to discriminate against homosexuals. After various discussions where I shot the, 'sanctity of marriage, unhealthy lifestyles, think of the children,' and other such reasons full of logical holes, I was pretty convinced that I had demonstrated, successfully, that there was no good, objective reason to oppress homosexual rights. I was pretty proud of this matter because I've never enjoyed the idea of targeting a specific group for being different (part of growing up in a subculture click of friends I suppose).

        So, after all that, I figured those folks I'd talked to would change their mind. Did they? Nah. When it boiled down to it, after all that, I got this simple, one line answer:

        I don't care what anyone says, homosexuality is just plain wrong. That's all there is to it!

        So in the end, this kind of stubborn bigotry isn't founded on logic or intelligence. It's not well-reasoned or thought out. It's simple, biased, self-comforting, fear-of-change, stubbornness. Looking for an angle, or trying to figure out why folks want to put down homosexuals is folly for that reason alone. There is no logic to it. It's simple faith-based stupidity. This one simple fact is probably the single largest contributor to making me abandon my own faith a few years back. In the end, it was all just a bunch of silly crap.

    • by Nuskrad (740518) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @07:24AM (#32755018)
      That's like taxing tampons or pads because they know that 50% of people need them.

      In the UK (and I believe the rest of the EU) they DO tax sanitary products. It took quite a lot of campaigning to get them placed in the 'reduced' rate of tax (5%) rather than the 'luxury' rate (currently 17.5%, soon to be 20%) as well. See here [guardian.co.uk] for example.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WCMI92 (592436)

      If we are going to "right" discrimination, with respect to tax inequality, then why won't Google pay UNMARRIED employees more money to make up for the fact that tax law unfairly discriminates against them in favor of married people who have children?

      I mean, it's wrong to discriminate, right?

      Of course, the whole reason why this exists is to encourage HAVING CHILDREN. Last time I checked, homosexuals lack both types of plumbing to pull this off. So why should they get the tax benefits of married people, if

  • Still unfair.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pvt_Ryan (1102363) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:16AM (#32754312)
    Unmarried hetro couples are now discriminated against. They should get the same as the Gay/Lesbian couples, some people may not believe in marrage or may not want to get married for one reason or another. Why should they be forced to marry just to avoid a tax?
    • by dingen (958134) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:46AM (#32754466)
      Just convince your employer that your girl is actually a dude. Photoshop could help out, but maybe it's not even needed.
    • Re:Still unfair.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gutnor (872759) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:50AM (#32754486)
      Marriage is a tax and legal affair. It is like creating a company or a trust with a business partner : Both of you can stay independent self-employed and do the same job but you will not get the same benefits. (and constraints)

      Marriage is the mechanism to subscribe to the benefits you feel discriminated against - just like filling you tax return. Marriage is not a declaration of Love or some blood pact before ${diety}, it is a legal contract and nothing more.
      The only real discrimination was to restrict this legal contract to people of specific sexual orientation.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Any Web Loco (555458)

        Marriage is not... blood pact before ${diety}

        Actually, arguably it is in some jurisdictions. Here in the UK for example there is no separation of Church and State. In effect that means that the marriage contract, whether conducted in a Church or registry office, is still being sanctioned by the Church. Which makes it a pact before ${diety} whether you like it or not.

        • Re:Still unfair.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by nosferatu1001 (264446) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @08:38AM (#32755580)

          No it is not, as the civil marriage laws have nothing relating to a religious observance in them.

          In fact civil partnerships have absolutely no "standard" wording at all, unlike civil marriages, meaning you can actively denounce religion if you want and it is fine (as long as the registrar doesnt panic, that is....) - we were told we could write our entire service if we wanted.

          Yes the nominal head is both State and Church, but the actual PM is purely a civil role.

    • by r00t (33219) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:53AM (#32754510) Journal

      No law can be defect-free, but consider the fact that every member of a Gay/Lesbian couple was once a child.

      Some mostly-correct assumptions are implicit in the law. Kids are known to do better in intact families. (even kids that grow up to be gay) Kids do better with a stay-at-home parent, traditionally the mom. Hetero couples generally produce kids. Legal issues related to kids (inheritance, etc.) are easier with a married couple.

      Even totally single people benefit from marriage-related tax breaks. Oh sure, having benefited as a child it would be mighty nice (totally selfish) to throw away the tax advantages for the generation that follows. Your childhood is comfy, and screw the next generation, hmmm?

      It's kind of like social security, moving wealth across generations. The kids are at least a good investment; they cost less and aren't just waiting around to die. Better food or additional at-home parental time would do some good.

      Think of the children, Gay ones included.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by delinear (991444)
        It seems from your argument that kids in marriages already have the breaks of a stable home life, and that the tax breaks should therefore go to unmarried people with kids - they're likely to have a harsher upbringing so they need all the help they can get, no?
    • Re:Still unfair.. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Xarius (691264) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @06:13AM (#32754636) Homepage

      In your country, a heterosexual couple can actually get married.

      A gay couple can't, the unmarried heterosexual couples are depriving themselves of the benefit this type of contract provides by choice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MrNemesis (587188)

      Unmarried people in the US are taxed extra? Why?!

      The conservatives in the UK have been going on about bringing back tax breaks for married couples (and civil partnerships, but those aren't available to heterosexual couples here yet - I'm also one of those people that doesn't agree with marriage but support the idea of civil unions) - I really don't see what the hell marriage is supposed to achieve, and add to that the UK having the highest divorce rate in europe I don't see any form of tax break as going to

    • Re:Still unfair.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nyder (754090) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @07:29AM (#32755042) Journal

      Unmarried hetro couples are now discriminated against. They should get the same as the Gay/Lesbian couples, some people may not believe in marrage or may not want to get married for one reason or another. Why should they be forced to marry just to avoid a tax?

      Thats all "legal" marriage is. A tax break.

      Love has nothing to do with marriage, regardless what the world wants to believe.

      Sure, you can say marriage is the public commit process of your love. And maybe it is. But you have to go sign legal documents, that bonds you and your partner together, in a contract, that comes down to money.

      Get divorced? It's all about the money split.
      Partner goes into debt, oh ya, they just put you in debt also. legally.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomhath (637240)

      You have it backwards; this isn't discrimination, it's social engineering to encourage a particular behavior. Almost all tax law does that to some degree (think about 401K, long term vs. short term capital gains tax, depreciation, tax shelters, etc).

      The purpose of tax breaks for home mortgages and married couples is to encourage raising children in stable, two parent households with one parent at home. If you're not married or not expected to breed with your spouse the incentives to raise children in the ap

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:17AM (#32754314)
    Boy, do I see a lawsuit brewing here. How can they legally justify paying straight people less than gays, if all other factors are equal? I don't care about any tax issues. Does Google pay an apartment dweller more just because they don't get a mortgage write-off? Do they pay a single person more because he can't claim to be a head-of-household under IRS rules like a married person does? Do they pay a blind person less because they get two personal exemptions rather than one on their ISR 1040? If their pay policy doesn't address these and a lot more tax inequities, then I hope that they get sued big time for a pay policy that actually favors gays over straight people. In short, it's not for Google to start correcting the unfairness of the tax system, and to do so in a discriminatory manner that favors gays over straights just isn't right or smart.
  • by xaxa (988988) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:29AM (#32754364)

    From the article:

    Working for a company as rich as Google comes with an incredible number of fringe benefits: the free food, the free laundry, the doctor on duty at company headquarters and the impressive five months of maternity leave with full pay and benefits, to mention a few.

    Five months is impressive? 26 weeks (almost 6 months) is a legal right [direct.gov.uk] over here. In some countries it's much, much more [wikipedia.org]!

    • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:36AM (#32754408) Journal

      Maternity leave is one area where the US is particularly behind the rest of the world. In general US labor laws are tilted in favor of the business you work for, what will be most profitable for them, unlike much of Europe where the employees actually have more power in many situations than their employers (as it should be).

      • by r00t (33219) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @06:30AM (#32754718) Journal

        European companies are really hesitant to hire people because it's so damn hard to get rid of people.

        Places that think they can get away with it will particularly avoid those who seem likely to take advantage of the benefits.

        WTF is with people thinking they should get paid for nothing and/or have a right to get back a job they abandoned for half a year? Everybody else at that company gets hurt, especially the substitute worker who'd really like to keep the job.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by priegog (1291820)

          Quite simply, because in our role in a society, being productive is important, but producing offspring is much more important (in a long term kind of way). And a society who has foresight would be wise to protect this matter, because companies (who think short-term and in any case don't care about society in general) sure as hell won't.
          The matter of companies over here being hessitant to hire is indeed a problem but IMO it's leaps and bounds better than the alternative (ie: to let them can women just becaus

        • you know, some of us actually believe the point of life is not to labor as a wage slave. that if society were set up in such a way to maximize individual happiness instead of profit, corporations would take a dent, but capitalism would go right on ticking, and we would be happier people with richer lives. exactly what is wrong with that goal?

          meanwhile, you seem wedded to the ravenous idea that toiling for the corporation should be the end-all consume-all point of life

          "Everybody else at that company gets hur

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I notice you posted a link but I will jump at a chance to promote my country anyway:

      Norway: ONE YEAR! Thats right, one year on your ass if you pop one out. And if that's not enough, we got paternity leave too. Daddy gets to take time off! It is teh win.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nitage (1010087)
      It says five months of maternity leave with full pay. In the UK, it's 6 weeks at 90% salary, 33 weeks at £124.88 or 90% of salary (whichever is lower) and 13 weeks unpaid. Google's terms are much, much better than most of Europe. There are exceptions - but only a handful (Lithuania gives 100% salary for 52 weeks + 85% for 52 weeks - but that's almost twice as generous as the next best).
  • by drewhk (1744562) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @06:30AM (#32754720)

    Well, this is all in the eye of the beholder:

      - Gay couples pay extra tax
      vs.
      - Non-gay couples get tax benefit

    Or

      - Non-Gay employees are negatively discriminated
      vs.
      - Gay employees are compensated

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @07:46AM (#32755182) Homepage
    If there were gays at Google, they would have a lot more beautiful site design.

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