Is it legal (California, USA) for an employer to require an employee provide a copy of the first two pages of their most recent form 1040 as part of demonstrating the eligibility of the dependents for medical, dental, vision, etc. insurance benefits?

This demand is being made in addition to a copy of the marriage certificate as well as birth certificates for dependent child(ren).

Specifically, they are demanding:

the first page (both sides) of your most recent federal income tax return Form 1040 (either one joint return or the returns of both parties, if you are filing separately) showing filing status, the signatures and date signed of the employee and spouse (blacking out the financial information).

Additional (presumably equivalent) instructions are provided for those filing electronically. The requirement is waived for those who have been married for less than one year.

  • I can't see any obvious reason that would not be allowed under federal law, or under general common law principles. I am not a California attorney, and there might be some state employee privacy law that overrides this, but if there isn't, then it can be required. Also, if the financial information is blacked out, it is hard to see any legitimate privacy concerns.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 11, 2016 at 0:26

1 Answer 1


It is almost assurable that the insurance provider is demanding your paperwork, not the employer itself. The company is merely a proxy - they have the time and staff and information to contact you and arrange getting the necessary evidence.

This being a federal form which neatly summarises all information concerning your dependents and their current relationship to you, it is the ideal piece of evidence to use.

If you want the benefit, you have to show you're eligible for it. That's entirely your decision; recognise that the consequence is a lack of employer-provided coverage.

  • 1
    Your answer explains why the tax return is being requested, not whether it is legal for them to require it in order to receive the health care benefit to which I would otherwise be entitled.
    – eponymous
    Oct 19, 2016 at 4:37
  • 1
    It's not an entitlement. It's a conditional privilege. You're no more assured of the benefit without proving your eligibility than you are of voting or driving. Or you could give a reason why you think requesting this information would be illegal.
    – user4657
    Oct 19, 2016 at 5:53
  • 2
    @eponymous You have to prove you are entitled to it. This is the proof they want. Why might it be illegal to ask for it? Oct 13, 2019 at 7:59

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