With Jeffords' Help, Same-Sex Couples Gain New Tax Benefits | LGBTQ | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

With Jeffords' Help, Same-Sex Couples Gain New Tax Benefits 

Local Matters

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gay-rights advocates are hailing the decisive role played by Sen. James Jeffords in last week's enactment of the first-ever change in the U.S. tax code helpful to same-sex couples.

"Non-spousal beneficiaries," including same-sex partners, will now be able to transfer inherited retirement savings into their own retirement accounts without immediately having to pay taxes. The new law also allows individuals to use their retirement plans to respond to certain medical or financial emergencies affecting a designated beneficiary, including a same-sex partner.

Previously, these so-called "rollover" and "hardship" benefits were available only to legally recognized spouses or dependents. The newly achieved reforms could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax savings and emergency assistance for a same-sex partner.

"For gay couples and all Americans with non-spouse beneficiaries, death and taxes weren't only certain, but were also times of great and unequal financial difficulty," says a statement by Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. The rollover and hardship provisions included in the Pension Protection Act represent "an incredibly exciting victory that will be helpful to millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families," adds the head of the nation's largest GLBT rights organization.

The landmark initiatives might still be languishing in congressional committees if not for Jeffords' efforts.

Four years ago, the Vermont Independent became the first senator to introduce a proposal permitting the tax-free rollover of a pension plan to a beneficiary other than a husband or wife, notes James Delaplane, a counsel to the Human Rights Campaign on pension issues. He says Jeffords worked effectively and patiently to muster support for a piece of legislation that some of his colleagues were initially unwilling to accept. "Sen. Jeffords was also very helpful on the hardship provision as it moved through the Senate Finance Committee," Delaplane adds.

The twin initiatives aiding same-sex couples won approval from a conservative -- and often homophobic -- Congress and president because they were part of an omnibus pension regulation overhaul that enjoyed broad bipartisan backing. The 907-page law "fixes tax problems for millions of heterosexuals, too," Delaplane observes.

The legislation was approved in the House by a 294-132 vote and in the Senate by a 97-2 margin.

Jeffords' work in steering the equal-rights measures through the Senate crowns a 32-year Capitol Hill career notable in part for its devotion to fairness to all families. "No matter what his political affiliation -- Republican or Independent -- Sen. Jeffords always led fights for pro-equality legislation," says Human Rights Campaign spokesman Brad Luna. "It will be a legacy of his."

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Kevin J. Kelley

Kevin J. Kelley

Kevin J. Kelley is a contributing writer for Seven Days, Vermont Business Magazine and the daily Nation of Kenya.


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2021 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Advertising Policy  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation