The IRS has recently issued Information Letter 2014-0012, advising same-sex couples how to properly treat health insurance premiums wrongly included in their W-2 income.
In general, an employee can exclude from income the cost of employer-provided coverage under an accident or health plan for the employee, his or her spouse and dependents. Pre-Windsor, a same-sex spouse was not considered a spouse under federal law, and therefore any coverage provided to the employee’s same-sex spouse was taxable income to the employee (commonly known as “imputed income”). However, the Windsor decision and subsequent IRS guidance, which provide that a married same-sex spouse will be treated as a spouse for federal tax purposes, have made this exclusion available to same-sex couples.
While many couples and their tax advisers are aware of these law changes, which affect 2013 tax returns and W-2’s, employers have been slow to react. This guidance provides same-sex couples with clear procedures for correctly filing their income tax returns and taking advantage of the income exclusion in cases where they receive incorrect W-2’s. There is additional guidance on the proper way to claim a refund for improperly collected payroll taxes as well.
For more information on imputed income, including refund opportunities from prior years and a sly tax deduction available for self-employed unmarried partners, see our previous LGBT Marriages & Taxes Blog, Imputed Income for Partner Health Benefits.
Rosalind W. Sutch, CPA, MT is the LGBTQ Tax Consulting and Financial Planning practice leader at Drucker & Scaccetti, P.C. She can be reached at (215) 665-3960 or RSutch@taxwarriors.com