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Important Changes Related to Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses Became Effective Monday, September 16, 2013

Effective September 16, 2013, same-sex spouses will be treated the same as opposite-sex spouses for all federal income tax purposes.  This means that employers should no longer impute income to employees for the value of certain benefits provided to their same-sex spouses and that qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k) and defined benefit pension plans, must extend spousal benefits and protections to same-sex spouses.  For example, as of September 16, 2013, a qualified retirement plan must, among other things, provide same-sex spouses a qualified joint and survivor annuity payment option and treat a same-sex spouse as an employee’s default beneficiary, absent the same-sex spouse’s written consent to naming another beneficiary.

A copy of the relevant IRS guidance can be found here.

The lawyers of our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group are readily able to assist companies on a nationwide basis with implementing sophisticated benefit plans and providing answers to their most challenging compensation issues. Additionally, our lawyers are well aware of the daily employee benefits challenges facing companies of all sizes and are capable of helping in-house lawyers and human resources personnel with the day-to-day advice and guidance necessary to properly administer employee benefits plans.

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