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USA, Alaska: Supreme Court Affirms Property Tax Rights for Same Sex Couples

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

AlaskaIt ain’t marriage equality, but it’s a step in that direction…

Edge Boston reports:

Same-sex couples in Alaska are equally entitled to the same state property-tax exemptions for senior citizens and disabled veterans as married couples, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday. The decision upholds a 2011 Superior Court ruling on a taxation case involving three same-sex Anchorage couples who sued the state and municipality of Anchorage 2010 through the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska. Joshua Decker, executive director of ACLU of Alaska, hailed the opinion, saying it shows that discrimination has no place in the state. “Simply because you happen to be gay or lesbian, you should not be paying more taxes,” he said. “Your tax bill should not turn on who you happen to love.”

Alaska is one of only three remaining states that are not facing a marriage equality lawsuit. Doesn’t it seem like it’s time to start one?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alaska.

How can you be married and not married at the same time?

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The time of year for all good citizens to focus on their federal and state income taxes has returned. As usual, tax taxesforms are due to the IRS by no later than April 15. Even if you file for an extension on the payments, the paperwork is due to the government by the third Tuesday of April this year. While most married opposite-sex couples will have no issues filing their taxes, same-sex couples face many obstacles. In states that have marriage equality, such as New York, Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware, the matter is a simple one. File your income taxes as a married couple, filing either a joint return, or separate single returns, depending on your own unique circumstances. As a result of the US Supreme Court ruling in the US v. Windsor case last year, all legally married, same-sex couples living in states which honor such marriages can file their income taxes in the same way as opposite-sex couples.

However, if you happen to live in Pennsylvania or one of the other 33 states which does not allow marriage for same-sex couples, you will need to file your returns differently. First, file your federal return as a married couple, again deciding whether to file a joint return or two separate returns based on your unique circumstances. You will then need to file two separate forms for your state and local taxes as a single taxpayer. I realize that the numbers will be a mess, and filing for financial aid for college will become a nightmare without some guidance. Nevertheless, that is what the law proscribes.

With all that said, a suggestion was sent in to ME4PA to consider. Many people file their income taxes online using programs from TurboTax, H&R Block, and other companies. If you complete your own tax forms, and you file online, your federal information will carry over automatically to your state return. I found this to be true when working on my own taxes. The computer asked to whom I am married, but did not care about the gender of the person to whom I am married. In fact, the computer is not going to run a background check on my marriage license to determine its validity. As long as the names on the forms match the Social Security numbers, all is right in the world. So if Pat and Lou are getting married, that could be two women, two men, or one of each. The government would not know unless it conducted an audit. However, the chances of an audit are incredibly small; furthermore, the federal government will already recognize as married, a same-sex couple who marries in a state such as New York or New Jersey. In both those states, the marriage licenses and certificates do not denote the gender of the couple. Hence, the computer has no way of knowing for sure who is really married to whom.

Before acting on this idea, I strongly encourage consulting a qualified tax adviser or lawyer. Still, just because you are in a same-sex relationship in Pennsylvania or any other state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, does not diminish the fact that your marriage certificate deserves to be recognized, whether you are two men, two women, or one of each. No matter what choice you make on your taxes, just remember, file by April 15.

What You Need to Know This Tax Season

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Taxes and LGBT CouplesThe independent research organization Tax Foundation has released an informative summary of each state’s guidance to gay and lesbian married couples on filing income taxes.

For the 2013 tax year, gay and lesbian couples holding a valid marriage certificate from a state that recognizes same-gender marriage will be able to file a joint federal return. Twenty-two states still do not recognize same-gender marriage while requiring taxpayers to reference their federal return when filing state income tax. Revenue officials in these states must therefore provide guidance for taxpayers.

Authored By Andy Kelly – See the Full Story at SDGLN

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USA, Utah: Gays Can File Taxes Jointly; ACLU Files Suit to Protect Marriages

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Utah MapWe have a couple new stories out of Utah this morning. First off, in a surprise move, the state Tax Commission said they will allow married gay and lesbian couples to file their taxes jointly this year.

Joe.My.God reports:

Utah same-sex couples legally married in the Beehive State or any other state may file joint state income tax returns, the Utah State Tax Commission announced Thursday. It is the latest — and apparently final — tax guideline on the issue, at least for 2013 returns. Previously, the Utah Tax Commission had issued a policy statement saying it would not allow joint filing of state returns by gay or lesbian couples married legally in any other state. That was before a federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage but after the Internal Revenue Service had announced it would allow joint filing by same-sex couples married legally anywhere, regardless of their state of residence. The Utah tax agency did not immediately explain its reversal Thursday.

Next up, the ACLU is filing a class-action lawsuit to protect the legality of all the same-sex weddings performed this last month.

Equality on Trial reports:

The ACLU of Utah itself had solicited emails from same-sex couples whose marriages became legally in doubt after the stay. Now, there’s official confirmation that a new lawsuit will be filed, likely in “less than a week”: “When we announced Jan. 9 that we were seeking plaintiffs, that really was the beginning stages of planning and thinking of a lawsuit and after January 9th we did hear from hundreds of people,” said John Mejia, the legal director of the ACLU of Utah. Mejia said it’s not a matter of if, but when they file a suit. There’s also a question of what the plaintiffs should get.

In other Utah news, the Star Tribune reports that of the approximately 2,700 calls, emails, and letters sent to the Governor’s office as same-sex couples were marrying, two thirds supported marriage equality:

More than 2,700 calls, emails and letters flooded the Utah governor’s office in the days and weeks after a surprise ruling legalized gay marriage in the state… From the day the marriage ban was struck down through Jan. 15, Herbert received about 1,800 phone calls, letters and emails from those generally supporting of same-sex marriage, according to the governor’s office. Some of the messages did not necessarily endorse same-sex marriage but implored the governor to drop the legal fight. Another 900 messages were from opponents of gay marriage. Many said they felt their votes had been invalidated and their religious views ignored. A review of roughly 100 of the letters and phone call transcripts Thursday by The Associated Press showed several people contacted Herbert’s office more than once. Other messages came from advocacy groups or apparent social media campaigns to contact the governor en masse.

Seth & MichaelOver the Advocate, they’re profiling the first a couple to marry in the state.

Meet Seth Anderson, a social historian, and Michael Ferguson, a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering. You know them as the first gay couple to get married in Utah. Anderson leads us through the couple’s journey from their first date to their wedding day to the aftermath of having their marriage invalidated and their hope that the 1,300 same-sex marriages in Utah will be recognized not only by the federal government but also by their home state.

And finally, LGBTQ Nation reports that Utah is paying outside attorneys $300,000 to help defend the ban:

Utah will spend $300,000 to bring in a team of three outside attorneys to help defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban before a federal appeals court. The Utah Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday it has chosen Gene Schaerr of a Washington, D.C., law firm to lead the legal team. Schaerr has handled dozens of cases before federal appeals court, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a news release.

Looking back over the last year, it’s an amazing change. Here we are, now fighting for marriage equality rights in Oklahoma and Utah, with a number of other cases in conservative states ready to come to a head. Stunning.

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USA: As Colorado Tries to Make It Easier for Gay Couples to File Taxes, Idaho Makes It Harder

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Taxes and LGBT CouplesIt’s a tale of two states. one state is moving to make it easier for married same-sex couples to file joint taxes, while the other is trying to make it more difficult.

KDVR reports from Colorado:

A proposal that seeks to allow legally married same-sex couples file joint state tax returns cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday. Senate Bill 19 passed the Senate Finance Committee on a 3-2 party-line vote. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, would tweak state statutes so that the formal filing status used on state tax returns is linked to a resident’s federal returns.

Meanwhile, in Idaho:

A legislative House committee Tuesday approved a rule that will make it more complicated for married same-sex couples in Idaho to file their taxes. It’s a rule designed to try and appease state law, which does not acknowledge same-sex marriage, and the federal Internal Revenue Service, which does. It was a rare chance for gay Idahoans to speak their mind before lawmakers. The Idaho Legislature is 81 percent Republican and many in the GOP oppose gay marriage. It’s not a topic that comes up often, if at all, in the Legislature, since Idaho law and its constitution both define marriage as between one man and one woman.

They will fight us every single step, every single step of the way. But I firmly believe that love will win out, in the end.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Colorado.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Idaho.

USA, Virginia: House Republicans Block Effort to Repeal Marriage Equality Ban

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

VirginiaIt looks like the bill to repeal Virginia’s gay marriage ban won’t even come up in committee.

The Washington Blade reports:

State Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg), chair of the Virginia House of Delegates Privileges and Elections Committee, on Jan. 9 announced it will not hear any so-called first reference constitutional amendments during the 2014 legislative session. He said his committee will instead consider them next year. “Virginia Republicans refusal to even consider same-sex marriage is backwards and proving increasingly archaic,” said state Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) in a Monday press release that announced Cole’s decision. “Marriage is about loving, committed couples who want to make a lifelong promise to take care of and be responsible for each other, in good times and bad.”

At the same time, the Virginia GOP wants to take the state even further to the right on LGBT rights.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A Virginia lawmaker who authored the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, has proposed new legislation to change the Virginia state code to further define the tax benefits denied to legally married same-sex couples. The bill, by Del. Bob Marshall (R-13), states “only those persons who are in a union that is a marriage recognized under Virginia law may file a joint Virginia income tax return for married persons or a separate Virginia income tax return as a spouse.”

It looks like any relief for same sex couples in Virginia will have to come from the courts.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Virginia.

USA, Missouri: GOP Lawmaker Wants to Impeach Governor for Allowing Gays to File Taxes Jointly

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Missouri Rep. Nick MarshallMissouri Rep. Nick Marshall thinks the legislature should start impeachment proceedings over the Governor’s decision to allow same sex couples to file their taxes jointly in the state.

Towleroad.com reports:

Nick Marshall, of Parkville, referred to the governor’s executive order directing officials to accept joint tax filings from same-sex couples who are legally married, the release of the names of concealed gun permit holders to a federal agent and driver’s license procedures. Marshall says he believes the governor’s administration has violated the law and that his motivations are not political gain or attention. He has not spoken to House leaders.

Wrote Marshall on his Facebook page: I will seek Articles of Impeachment against the Governor. He has openly disregarded the laws and Constitution of the State of Missouri and allowed his administration to do so on multiple occasions.

Yes, because the GOP never disregards laws it doesn’t like or the Constitution. Have you noticed how quickly the GOP is to use the “I” word whenever something happens that they don’t like?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Missouri.

USA: National Organization for Marriage $2.7 Million in Debt

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

NOM LogoThe anti-gay National Organization for Marriage is seeing a huge wave of red ink this year.

Joe.My.God reports:

NOM has published its 2012 tax form and as you can see above, they finished 2012 over $2.7M in the red. Brian Brown took to their blog last night to blast complaints. “NOM fully complies with federal law regarding the public availability of our Form 990 tax return. Our 2012 Form 990 was mailed to the IRS on November 15th as required by law. It is available for public inspection on the NOM website. This frivolous complaint by the HRC is extremely ironic given the fact that HRC published on its website the private information from NOM’s 2008 Form 990, which is a felony under federal law and which is the subject of current Congressional investigations. NOM has also filed a federal lawsuit against the IRS to find out who in the IRS illegally released to the HRC our confidential donor information.”

Could it be that NOM’s rich friends are unhappy with the organizations lack of recent success?

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USA: The National Organization for Marriage Is Late Filing Its Federal Tax Returns

Monday, November 18th, 2013

NOM LogoOnce again showing their blatant disregard for the law, NOM has blown past their extended deadline for filing their taxes for 2012.

O-blog-dee-o-blog-da reports:

Rights Equal Rights (RER), under the leadership of Fred Karger, the relentless LGBT activist who has taken NOM to task over the years, sent a representative to the Washington, DC office of NOM on Friday morning to pick up both copies of NOM’s federal tax returns for 2012. NOM’s tax returns were originally due on May 15, 2013. The organization had apparently taken two extensions, with a final deadline Friday November 15. It seems that there were no tax returns available for public inspection at their main office on Friday. RER reports having an audio clip of a NOM representative saying to “come back Monday or Tuesday.” According to Karger, NOM President Brian Brown claims they are “law abiding, file all their tax returns on time and obey all state and federal election laws.” However Karger notes, “They do not.”

How many times has the National Organization for Marriage failed to disclose their donors when it’s required? Failed to pay their taxes on time? And generally disregarded any law which they don’t see as important? Is there any penalty to be paid?

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USA, Missouri: Governor Supports Marriage Equality, State to Accept Tax Returns from Same-Sex Couples

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Missouri Governor Jay NixonAdd another state to the list of those moving toward marriage equality. Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon just announced that he supports marriage equality, and will order the state to start accepting joint tax returns from gay and lesbian couples.

The Columbia Tribune reports:

Gov. Jay Nixon said Thursday that he supports legalizing gay marriage in Missouri during a news conference announcing that homosexual couples married under the laws of other states would be allowed to file combined state tax returns. In an executive order, Nixon directed the Department of Revenue to accept the combined returns as a reaction to the June ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. That law barred same sex couples who were legally married from receiving any marriage-based federal benefits, such as tax exemptions and Social Security payments. Under state law, couples who file a joint federal return are required to file a combined state tax return. The executive order clarifies that the law applies to all couples, Nixon said.

It’s a great first step, although it’s unclear if and when Missouri might actually legalize marriage equality. Governor Nixon hopes that will happen as well, but with the GOP controlling more than two thirds of both chambers, legislative action on such a bill appears unlikely in the near future.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Missouri.