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Domestic Partner Benefits

Update on the Impact of Same-Sex Marriage on UC Benefits

If you are a state-registered domestic partner (DP), you do NOT need to change your registration status in any way, at any time, if you marry. Maintaining your DP registration will not affect your marriage, your benefits, your taxes, or anything else. In fact, it may protect you if you travel or move to a state that recognizes domestic partnership, but not marriage.

If you are providing UC benefits to a domestic partner (state-registered or not), and the two of you marry, you can change your UC status to “married” and provide the benefits as a spouse, rather than a DP--but there is no benefits advantage to this beyond the symbolic, i.e., having UC record you as married. (The only advantage beyond the symbolic involves state tax: if you’ve been providing benefits to an UNregistered DP, and you marry and inform UC, the benefits will no longer be taxed by California, as explained below.) Furthermore, if the same-sex marriages occurring now are invalidated (e.g., if the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is approved in November, AND a legal challenge to the pre-amendment marriages is mounted, AND that challenge succeeds in invalidating the marriages), you will need to change your UC status back to “DP” to continue providing benefits.

If you are providing UC benefits to your DP now, you do not need to marry to keep providing the benefits. Also, if you want to start providing UC benefits to your DP, you do not need marry to do that: you can, exactly as now, simply tell UC that you are state-registered DPs or fill out the UC affidavit of same-sex partnership.

Bottom line: getting married has absolutely no effect on your UC benefits.

And marriage only changes your state tax situation if you are NOT registered DPs before marrying:

--If you ARE state-registered DPs, you already have to file your California return as “married,” filing jointly or separately. If you are NOT registered and marry, you will need to start filing a California “married” return, filing jointly or separately, just like any married couple.

--If you are married or a registered DP, California does not tax the benefits you provide to your spouse or DP (assuming UC knows that you’re married or a registered DP). If you are providing benefits to an UNregistered DP, and you marry and inform UC, then the benefits you provide will no longer be taxed by California. The benefits will, however, still be subject to federal tax, as explained below.

Note that California marriage has absolutely no effect on your federal tax status, or anything else overseen by the federal government, such as immigration or Social Security. Even though all same-sex spouses and registered DPs must file their California return as “married,” they cannot file their federal return as “married.” (This means that your state return must be prepared differently from your federal one.)

[Information submitted by Shane Snowdon, UCSF, and circulated at the Office of the President.]