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Hallandale Beach city commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution that provides a tax equity reimbursement to city employees who receive domestic partnership benefits. The resolution's sponsor, City Commissioner Alexander Lewy, and Stratton Pollitzer of Equality Florida spoke about the move.
The Hallandale Beach City Commission unanimously approved on Wednesday a resolution that provides a tax equity reimbursement to city employees who receive domestic partnership benefits in a proposal the bill's sponsor believes is the first in the nation.
"This is gonna be history, it's the first municipality in the country to do this," City Commissioner Alexander Lewy told NBC 6 South Florida Wednesday.
Hallandale Beach is certainly the first municipality in Florida approve such a policy, the city said.
While Hallandale Beach gives health benefits to domestic partners, the monetary value of that benefit is taxed by the IRS, Lewy explained. Married couples who receive the same benefits aren't subject to that tax.
"I think it's completely unethical," Lewy said. "It's unfair for employees to be taxed differently based on their marriage status."
Under Lewy's resolution, any city worker who receives the benefits can fill out a form and will be reimbursed on May 1 each year. Only five of the city's 400 employees are currently affected by the tax, but Lewy said the number could grow.
"This is a really forward-looking policy that Hallandale Beach has just passed," Stratton Pollitzer of Equality Florida said.
Lewy said he expects employees could receive around $500 the first year the resolution goes into effect and that figure could vary in the future depending on modifications to the tax code.
Lewy said he expects the program to cost the city no more than $5,000 a year.
Lewy said one major motivation is equality for South Florida's LGBT community.
"I'm an ally of the community and think they're a minority group that's been discriminated against," Lewy said. "We should work towards ending discrimination and these inequities. It's all about creating a fair workplace environment."
But the measure also applies to all employees who receive domestic partnership benefits, regardless of sexual orientation.
"This is not just for the marriage equality aspect of it, this is domestic partners, whether they are heterosexual partners or homosexual it doesn't matter, we want all of our employees to be treated fairly and taxed fairly," Lewy said.