Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Thanks to BO’s recent “endorsement” of same-sex marriage the internet is a-BUZZ with the topic.  This includes the “tax blogosphere”.
A few of my fellow tax-bloggers cover the tax aspects of same-sex marriage extensively.
Peter J Reilly, author of the blog “Passive Activities” for FORBES.COM (where I have been a frequent guest-poster), writes frequently on the topic.  Click here for his latest gay-marriage post.
Also Enrolled Agent Jason Dinesen, who writes “Dinesen Tax Times”.  Jason posts every Monday about gay marriage and taxes.  Click here for his latest related post.
Currently the federal government, and the IRS, does not recognize same-sex marriages, as per the Defense of Marriage Act.  From an income tax point of view I expect most same-sex couples would not be better off if they were offered the same filing options as “traditional” married couples.  However there would be potential for substantial benefit when it comes to the federal estate tax.
I have very few clients who I either know, or suspect, are a gay couple.  Only one couple would benefit from being able to file tax returns as married.  With the others, both partners are employed and would probably pay more tax, thanks to the “marriage penalty”, by having to file as married taxpayers.
In states that recognize same-sex marriages, and permit gay couples to file as married, the fact that these taxpayers cannot file the same way federally causes extra work for the tax preparer, but also generates corresponding additional income.  I have not yet had to deal with this situation in my practice.

I am not opposed to the legal recognition of gay marriage on the federal or state level.  I am also not an active advocate.  I would not campaign against the issue, nor would I campaign for passage of supportive legislation.  If it happens I would be fine with it - but it is not a priority issue for me. 
I expect that I would leave the issue to the individual states, and would allow same-sex couples whose tax home is in a state that recognizes the marriage to file federal returns as married couples.         

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