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Q&A: Domestic Partner Coverage

Q: Does 4J offer domestic partner coverage?

A: Yes, 4J allows both same-sex and opposite sex domestic partners to be covered on our plans.  Keep in mind that additional taxes are assessed on the value of this coverage.  This is a federal law by which 4J must abide.  (See further questions below regarding the amount of the tax.)

Q: What are the requirements one must meet in order to be considered an eligible domestic partner?

A: Below are the criteria in order to be considered an eligible domestic partner.  You must complete the Affidavit of Domestic Partnership when you add your partner to your plan.

  1. Both are at least 18 years of age;
  2. Are responsible for each other’s welfare and are each other’s sole domestic partner;
  3. Are not married to anyone and either has not had a spouse or another domestic partner within the prior six months (if previously married, the six month period starts on the final date of divorce);
  4. Share a close personal relationship and are not related by blood closer than would bar marriage in the State of Oregon;
  5. Have jointly shared the same regular and permanent residence for at least six months; and
  6. Are jointly financially responsible for basic living expenses defined as the cost of food, shelter, and any other expenses of maintaining a household (financial information must be provided if requested).

Q: What is “imputed tax” on domestic partner coverage?

A: Because the federal government does not recognize the relationship of “domestic partner”, they consider your ability to get this coverage via your employer a form of additional compensation which they consider taxable income.  The value of the insurance coverage (or the price that would be charged for that level of coverage out on the open market) is determined by actuaries and a chart of values is provided to the employer.  These values get calculated into your paycheck as “imputed income” and tax is withheld accordingly.  You don’t actually get any additional cash in your paycheck, but the value of the insurance is noted in the earnings column and taxes are withheld as if you had earned that much more income.

Q: How can I determine the amount of additional tax that would get withheld from my check if I added my partner to my insurance?

A: There are many variations that affect the value of the additional coverage, such as which plan you’re on, which employee group you’re in, and how many people you are adding to the plan (you are allowed to add your partner’s dependents as well).  Beyond the value of the insurance, there are many variations that affect the amount of tax withheld, such as your income level and the number of dependents claimed on your W4.  You can determine the value of the coverage you are considering (i.e., the amount of “imputed income” that would be added to your earnings for the purpose of calculating your tax withholding) by  clicking here:  http://www.oregon.gov/oha/OEBB/Plans/Imputed-Value-Medical-Rx-Dental-and-Vision-Rates-2017-18.pdf.  Benefits and payroll staff are unable to provide you with an estimate of your additional tax withholding.  You may wish to contact a professional tax advisor.

Q: Does the imputed tax affect my state taxes too, or just federal?

A: 4J is required to withhold additional taxes for both state and federal.  However, depending on your circumstances, there may be a way to claim this on your state tax return and possibly recoup some or all of the additional state taxes assessed on domestic partner coverage.  Consult a professional financial advisor or tax preparer to learn more about this.  The EAP can be a helpful resource to find a trustworthy financial professional and possibly have this question addressed at reduced or no charge.

Q: Can I add my partner’s child(ren) to my plan without adding my partner?

A: Yes, as long as you submit the Affidavit of Domestic Partnership declaring your relationship to the child’s parent, your partner is not required to be on your plan in order to cover your partner’s child(ren). Covering children of your domestic partner will also require 4J to withhold the additional tax.  Please see the question above regarding ‘Imputed Tax’.

Q: Are there restrictions on when I can add my domestic partner to my plan?

A: Yes, as with any other relationship, you can only make changes to your plan during the annual Open Enrollment period, or within 31 days of a QSC event.  Under OEBB rules, you must live with your partner for 6 months in order to establish a domestic partnership, therefore the 6-month anniversary of the day you moved in together would be the QSC date for a new domestic partnership (similar to how the wedding date is the QSC for a new marriage).  Other examples of valid QSCs might be if your partner lost other employer provided group coverage, or if your partner received a Medical Support order from the Department of Child Support Services.  To determine whether a particular event would qualify as a QSC, contact OEBB at (888) 469-6322 or OEBB.info@state.or.us.

Q: I’ve decided I do want to add my partner to my coverage and I’m within the proper time frame to do so.  What do I need to do?

A: Submit a completed Affidavit of Domestic Partnership as well as a Mid-Year Change Form to Human Resources.  The change will take effect the first of the month following the QSC event date (or October 1st if adding during Open Enrollment).