The U.S. Supreme Court has kept business owners busy in the past year. It started a year ago with the Court upholding the Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Now we have SCOTUS striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I would, however, draw a distinction. The decision on the PPACA affirmed the major provisions of a major federal law. Striking down DOMA – and punting on the California Proposition 8 case – does the opposite. In striking down a federal law, it raises more questions than provides answers. Whether you like or despise DOMA, until today it was the law of the land for how marriage was defined concerning such issues as federal taxes and entitlement programs. It goes back to the states to define marriage, at least for now, and that means different rules for different jurisdictions.
What does this mean specifically for business owners? Frankly, it may take years for answers to come into focus. Below are just a few examples of questions that business owners will need to wrestle with going forward. Knowing the questions may help the business owner decide when to make a decision,Cheap Oakley Sunglasses
, when to defer a decision, and when to seek professional advice.
Will we need to change our health benefit plans to include same sex spouses? This will depend on how the applicable state defines marriage. Striking down DOMA did not define a marriage. It simply said that it is the state’s call. Twelve states and the District of Colombia provide for same sex marriage, and eight others have some kind of civil union accommodation. Consequently, this can have a major effect on your health related benefit plans. In addition to the issue of including newly defined spouses in the plan, and the potential costs associated with this,Oakley Sunglasses Sale
, consider issues such as Family Medical and Leave Act and COBRA elections. It may also mean that same sex marriage couples will be able to take advantage of the pre-tax treatment of medical expenses under flexible spending accounts.
Will we need to change how we handle qualified plans? There are a number of provisions in qualified plans that involve the definition of marriage. Again,http://www.syfz8.com/viewthread.php?tid=1059186&extra=
, more questions than answers, but here are some examples of possible outcomes:
Defined benefit pension plans would have to offer qualified joint and survivor annuities to same-sex spouses.
Section 401(k) and 403(b) plans would have to require same-sex spouses to consent to beneficiary designations in favor of anyone other than the same-sex spouse.
Qualified plans would have to honor qualified domestic relations orders (“QDROs”) in favor of same-sex spouses;
Qualified plans would have to treat same-sex spouses as spouses for purposes of the required minimum distribution provisions
Could this affect my buy-sell plan? Buy-sell agreements are mainly an area of contract law,oakley sunglasses outlet
, and thereby determined by state law. But the DOMA decision can have collateral affects in that the design of the buy-sell agreement may have been influenced by federal income and estate tax laws, bankruptcy issues, and other related federal concerns. If one of the parties to the agreement is involved in a same sex marriage, a review of the buy-sell agreement may be in order.
How might this affect debtor and creditor issues for the business?Similar to buy-sell agreements, most debtor-creditor law is handled at the state level. But, bankruptcy law has a federal aspect. Again, it may be time for a review.