A Tax Nightmare for Gay Couples

Tax Chaos For Same-Sex Couples

This year is the first time that gay couples have ever been able to file federal income taxes jointly in America. In many ways this is great and it represents a huge step forward in the move towards equality. This new ability to file came when the Supreme Court struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act. While it is important to recognize the importance of this step, the new filing possibilities have created undue stress for many couples.

The reason for the complication is that many states still do not recognize same-sex marriage on the state level. This means that depending on the state, same-sex couples have to file state returns separately, but can file federal returns jointly. In many states this leads to undue work, confusion and difficulty for same-sex couples to receive the appropriate refunds. A few states even have the opposite problem: they do not recognize same-sex marriages but they do recognize same-sex tax filing. 

To sort out some of the confusion, here is a map that demonstrates what same-sex couples have to do to file in each state.

But this is not even the end of the murkiness. If couples live in one state but have assets in another state, they may have to file several returns for each state depending on the variety of recognition criteria in each state. And because same-sex marriage is now recognized at the federal level, employers need to rewrite benefits policies to include same-sex couples. 

The Supreme Court should just end this mess and legalize same-sex marriage nationally.