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Home > Benefits > Medical Care Plans > Domestic Partner Coverages

Domestic Partner Coverages

On this page: Applicable Benefits | Eligibility Requirements | Registration Process | Benefit Plan Enrollment | Tax Information | Legal Concerns | Termination of a Domestic Partnership | COBRA Continuation of Health Plan Coverage | Updates to policies

Effective April 1, 2002

On September 14, 2001, the Trustees of Indiana University passed a resolution approving the provision of benefits to same-sex domestic partners of Indiana University employees and students who demonstrate that they are in a "verifiable committed relationship." The university will implement the benefits listed below for qualified, registered domestic partners and qualified children of domestic partners, effective April 1, 2002.

Effective September 16, 2013

On August 29, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17 in response to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In this Ruling, the IRS addressed the definition of a “spouse”.  A spouse is now defined as one by marriage, either opposite-sex or same-sex, legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory or a foreign country.  Domestic partnerships, civil unions or other similar relationships that are not a marriage are not recognized under this Ruling.

“Spouses” qualify for preferential federal tax treatment of health care benefits, but may not qualify for preferential state tax treatment depending on their state of residency.  In order to correctly apply state taxes, a same-sex spouse must be registered with the University.

Applicable Benefits

The following benefits and policies may apply to registered domestic partners of IU employees: 

Benefit plans for Academic and Staff employees 

Personnel policies for staff employees  

Other IU-sponsored programs may be available to domestic partners (e.g., memberships for recreation facilities), however, these programs are not addressed on this web page.  Contact individual programs for information.

Eligibility Requirements for Domestic Partners

The definition of a domestic partner is an individual who is registered by the employee with an affidavit attesting that the domestic partner: 

* Required documentation, in addition to the affidavit: in lieu of a marriage certificate recognized by the state of Indiana that the university requires to cover an employee's spouse, one of the following forms of supporting documentation is required to verify the employee and domestic partner's interdependent financial relationship:

Health Plan Eligibility Criteria for Children
 
Children (biological, adopted, or qualified legal wards) of a qualified same-sex Domestic Partner are eligible if they meet the same eligibility requirements as children of the employee or employee's spouse with regard to age and/or disabled child eligibility. Visit hr.iu.edu/benefits/needknow.html for a description of dependent eligibility guidelines.

Health plan eligibility for all dependent children ends at the end of the month in which the child reaches age 26 unless the child qualifies for Disabled Child eligibility.

Domestic Partner Registration

In order for an employee to engage domestic partner benefits, he or she will need to register the domestic partnership with the university.  In order to register: 

  1. Request an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership form (PDF) from a Human Resources office or download from this website.
  2. Read and Review the Certification of Tax Qualified Dependents form (PDF) and request the form from a Human Resources office or download from this website, if applicable.
  3. Consult and attorney and tax advisor concerning any legal obligations that may be created by the affidavit.
  4. Submit the affidavit to University Human Resources (Attention: COBRA Specialist, Poplars E165, Bloomington, IN 47405) for review.

Registration of a domestic partner may take place at any time during the year; however, enrollment in benefit plans is subject to the same time limits as that of a spouse and/or children of the employee. 

Confidentiality.  Domestic Partner registration is confidential; however, information may be shared within the university and with plan administrators on a need-to-know basis in order to administer benefits, make appropriate payroll deductions, and assess taxes on benefits when required.  Information may be made available also as required by law or the courts.  

Benefit Plan Enrollment

Medical and Dental Plans and Personal Accident Insurance 

Enrolling a domestic partner in IU-sponsored medical and dental plans or Personal Accident Insurance is subject to the same limitations that apply to a spouse or child.  Enrollment is limited to:

IU Tuition Benefit  

Application may be made for a registered domestic partners and/or qualified children of the domestic partner. 

Basic Life Insurance 

Enrollment in Basic Life Insurance benefits will be automatic upon registration of the domestic partner and/or qualified children of the domestic partner.  No enrollment form is required. 

Tax Information

An employee's taxable income associated with enrolling a domestic partner and/or the partner's child in an employer sponsored health care plan can be meaningful.  This document is not specific legal or tax advice and, therefore, employees considering domestic partner benefits are advised to consult their tax advisor. 

On August 29, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17 in response to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In this Ruling, the IRS addressed the definition of a “spouse”.  A spouse is now defined as one by marriage, either opposite-sex or same-sex, legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory or a foreign country. 

“Spouses” qualify for preferential federal tax treatment of health care benefits, but may not qualify for preferential state tax treatment depending on their state of residency.  In order to correctly apply state taxes, a same-sex spouse must be registered with the University.

In general, domestic partnerships, civil unions or other similar relationships that are not a marriage are not recognized under the IRS Ruling, so both the university's and employee's cost of providing domestic partner benefits is considered taxable income by the IRS.  When an employee enrolls a domestic partner or the partner's child in an IU-sponsored health care plan, the employee's contribution and the university's contribution for that coverage are the same as for a spouse and spouse's child.  However, due to IRS regulations, these contributions are taxable income and will be added to the employee's pay as additional wages.  This will be reported on the employee's annual Form W-2 and increases the employee's taxable gross income for federal and state income taxes as well as for FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes withheld from paychecks.  The amount of the additional taxable income depends upon the plan in which the employee is enrolled and the resulting level of coverage (employee/spouse, employee/child, family). 

Associated taxable income can be excluded if the employee is eligible to claim the domestic partner and/or the partner's child as a tax dependent under IRS Section 152.  If the domestic partner and/or partner's children are IRS-defined tax dependents of the employee, the employee should submit a Certification of Tax-Qualified Dependents (PDF) form to University Human Resource Services. 

For a non-family member, such as a domestic partner, to qualify as a dependent several IRS tests must be satisfied:  The domestic partner must: 

  • receive over half of his or her support from the employee for the year (support includes food, shelter, clothing medical and dental care, and education and must be compared to total support including the partner's income); and 
  • have as his or her principal abode the employee's home for the year and be a member of the employee's household for the year; and
  • not break any local laws by engaging in the relationship; and 
  • meet the IRS residency test (in general, be a citizen or national of the US, Mexico, or Canada).

If the child of the domestic partner meets similar dependency tests required by the IRS (including a gross income test, see publication 501), the value of the child's benefits may also be excluded from taxation. 

If the employee is considering certifying his or her partner as a tax dependent, consulting a tax advisor is recommended.  Falsely certifying a tax dependent may result in charges of tax fraud and disciplinary action (including termination) by the university. 

In order to estimate the cost of taxes on domestic partner benefits, use the total plan cost information on the University Human Resource Services website.  Calculate the additional taxable income using this formula: 

Total plan cost for all enrolled individuals

less 

Total plan cost for tax-qualified individuals 

= 

Additional taxable income 

(Download a worksheet for estimating the tax cost of domestic partner health benefits for 2013 or 2014 (PDF).)
 
Note: Total Plan Cost includes both the IU contribution and employee contribution.  These tax costs are in addition to the employee payroll premium contribution for health plan coverage.  The tax assessed on this additional income could be as much as 36 percent for an employee in the 25 percent federal tax bracket (25 percent federal, 7.65 percent FICA, and 4 percent state and local taxes). Tax rates for each individual vary.

Example 1:  
An employee enrolls with a non-tax-qualified domestic partner in the IU PPO $900 Deductible plan.  The employee's additional monthly taxable income is the difference between the total monthly cost of Employee w/ Spouse coverage and the total monthly cost for Employee Only coverage ($ 1,299.99 - $533.11= $ 766.88).  Annual taxes can be estimated by multiplying this monthly amount by 12 and then by 36 percent (estimated federal, FICA, and state/local taxes).  The annual tax estimate is $ 3,312.92.  Employee monthly cost is the $ 274.10 employee/spouse premium (for the $50,000-$99,999 salary band) plus $ 276.08 in taxes. 

Example 2:  
An employee enrolls with family coverage (covering a non-tax-qualified domestic partner) in the IU PPO $400 Deductible Plan. The employee's additional monthly taxable income is the difference between the total monthly cost of Employee w/  Family coverage and the total monthly cost for Employee w/ Children coverage ($ 1,691.36 – $ 1,489.60 = $ 201.76). Annual taxes can be estimated by multiplying this monthly amount by 12 and then by 36 percent (estimated federal, FICA, and state/local taxes). The annual tax estimate is $ 871.60. Employee monthly cost is the $ 423.06  family premium (for the $50,000-$99,999 salary band) plus $ 72.63 in taxes.

Example 3:  
An employee enrolls along with his or her tax-qualified domestic partner in any IU-sponsored health care plan. There is no associated taxable income. 

Legal Concerns

The Affidavit of Domestic Partnership (PDF) required to register a domestic partner includes an attestation that the relationship is the functional equivalent of a marriage.  This includes responsibility for each other's debts and agreement to a substantially equal division of property upon dissolution of the partnership similar to that required of a married couple at the time of a divorce.  Due to the legal obligations that may be created between the employee and partner by submitting such an affidavit, the university advises both parties to consult an attorney for advice.  For example, the employee may want to ask their attorney whether the affidavit can be used by creditors to hold one partner responsible for the debts of the other or whether a partner may use the affidavit as entitlement to division of property acquired during the partnership. 

Termination of a Domestic Partnership

The employee must notify Indiana University in writing within 30 days of the dissolution of an IU-registered domestic partnership using a Termination of Domestic Partnership (PDF) form.  Benefit plan eligibility for the domestic partner and children of the partner ends on the day of dissolution of the partnership.  Failure to notify the university may result in liability for claims paid for ineligible services and disciplinary action (including cancellation of the employee's health plan coverage or termination of employment).  In addition, failure to provide timely notice to the university jeopardizes COBRA health care continuation coverage for the domestic partner.

COBRA Continuation Coverage

While continuation of health care coverage is not required under federal COBRA laws, Indiana University will provide such coverage under the same terms that would apply to an employee's spouse and children.  A registered domestic partner and/or children of the domestic partner enrolled in IU-sponsored health plan have 60 days from the date that eligibility for coverage ends to enroll in COBRA coverage.

Additional Questions?

For questions about Domestic Partner benefits contact University Human Resource Services ( or 812-855-7833) or a campus HR office.


Page updated: 3 June 2014
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