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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.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Utah.

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, Ohio: FreedomOhio Says It Has Enough Signatures To Put Marriage Equality on the Ballot

Friday, December 20th, 2013

titleIt looks like Ohio is jockeying to be one of the next states to pass marriage equality. And a new poll shows a majority now support the initiative.

Dot429 reports:

The co-founder of FreedomOhio, Ian James, announced on December 19 that their campaign to collect enough signatures to put the legalization of marriage equality on the ballot for 2014 has surpassed its goal. At a news conference, James said that they had exceeded their goal of 385,247 signatures—the minimum required—to put the issue on the state ballot. A second requirement, gathering signatures from 44 of the 88 counties in Ohio, has also been met. James declined to state exactly how many signatures FreedomOhio has been able to collect, but said that they were working to get a full one million signatures by early July, the deadline to file for a ballot referendum in November.

If they collect enough valid signatures, it looks like both Ohio and Oregon will be on the ballot in 2014. States number 18 and 19? Or will someone else get their first? What do you think?

A new poll shows that support for marriage equality in the state has risen to 52%.

Buzzfeed reports:

The survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling of 1,011 Ohio voters from Dec. 6-8, 2013, concluded that 52% of voters would vote in favor of an amendment that “would allow two consenting adults to be married, so long as they are not nearer of kin than second cousins, are not currently married to someone, and no religious institutions will be required to perform or recognize a marriage.” Thirty-eight percent would oppose the amendment, and nine percent were undecided.

Of the 38% who would vote against the amendment, however, PPP asked a follow-up question: “This constitutional amendment protects religious liberties by allowing any house of worship, such as a church or synagogue, to refuse to marry a same-sex couple. Knowing this, if the election were held today, would you vote in favor of this amendment to the Ohio Constitution to allow same-sex couples to marry, or would you vote against it?” More than 10% of those initially against the amendment said that information would change their vote to supporting the amendment, which brought the total support up to 56%.

In related news, proposed legislation in the state would allow same-sex couples to file their taxes jointly.

Edge Boston reports:

Proposed legislation would allow same-sex couples in Ohio to file joint state tax returns in line with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that permits such couples to jointly file federal taxes. Backers say the bill could be enacted despite a 2004 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Ohio.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Ohio.

Switzerland: Green Liberal Party Pushes for Marriage Equality

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Switzerland – Google maps

from Google Maps

One of Switzerland’s political parties is pushing for the passage of marriage equality in the country.

Gay Star News reports:

Switzerland’s Green Liberal Party wants to make sure people are taxed the same regardless of whether they are in same or opposite-sex committed relationships and also want to allow gay couples to marry, putting forward two parliamentary initiatives to that end Tuesday. The Green Liberals are seeking to provide Swiss lawmakers with an alternative to a proposal by the country’s Christian Democratic People’s Party which seeks to end discrimination based on living arrangements in the tax code but would also define marriage as being between a man and a woman in the Swiss Constitution – adding an additional barrier to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Has anyone seen any polling out of Switzerland on marriage equality?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

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, 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.

USA, Pennsylvania: Lesbian Widow Sues for Equal Tax Treatment Under Marriage Equality

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Pennsylvania mapPennsylvania got its fourth marriage quality lawsuit yesterday.

Joe.My.God reports:

In yet another marriage lawsuit in the Keystone State, a lesbian widow is following the lead of Edith Windsor. A Bethlehem woman who legally married her same-sex partner in 2011 in Connecticut is suing to seek equal tax treatment in the wake of her partner’s death last year. Barbara Baus and Cathy Burgi-Rios, who lived together for more than 15 years, married on April 29, 2011, in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Burgi-Rios died on Sept. 21, 2012, from leukemia. She was 55. According to a news release issued this morning by the law firm representing Baus, she sought the spousal tax rate of 0 percent from Pennsylvania for what she inherited from Burgi-Rios. The state Department of Revenue responded to her request by stating her marriage was not valid in Pennsylvania; the department said she would instead be required to pay a 15 percent rate that applies to legal strangers, according to the news release from the law firm Jerner & Palmer, P.C.

And after Edie Windsor won her case, what possible reason could the state come up with to deny this new widow in her case?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Pennsylvania.

USA: Three Reasons Gays May Love IRS Equality

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Taxes and LGBT CouplesYesterday, the Motley Fool brought us three reasons to hate the IRS’s new equal treatment of same-sex couples. Today they have three reasons to like it.

The Motley Fool reports:

In June, the Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act denying same-sex couples federal recognition of their marital status. Yet for those in same-sex marriages, the tax impact of the Supreme Court ruling remained unclear, as the IRS said it would have to work with the Treasury Department and other government agencies to provide future guidance. Same-sex spouses got that guidance earlier this week, with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announcing that the IRS would recognize same-sex marriages for federal tax purposes regardless of their state of residence. Let’s take a look at some of the implications of the new IRS policy with an eye toward the elements that same-sex spouses will benefit from the most.

1. Same-sex spouses with unequal incomes are likely to get a marriage bonus.
Federal tax law treats married couples differently from single filers. Although you might think that it would be appropriate for items like tax brackets, standard deductions, and income threshold limits for married couples simply to be double the corresponding amounts for single filers, the actual numbers are a lot more complicated. In general, couples in which one person earns the bulk of the income are most likely to reduce their overall tax burden by getting married, and the IRS ruling will allow same-sex spouses in that situation to do so. With many different factors to consider, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Alternative Minimum Tax, and other more specialized deductions and credits, it’s hard to make valid generalizations, but many same-sex spouses will benefit from the change in filing status.

Hit the link above for the other two reasons. So it’s not all doom and gloom.

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USA: Three Reasons Gays May Hate IRS Equality

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

IRS_logoAlthough many gay lesbian couples may end up paying less when they start filing jointly with the IRS this next year, others may face the downsides.

Motley Fool reports:

Yet for some same-sex couples, being treated as married for federal tax purposes could actually increase their tax bills. Let’s take a look at some of the negative implications of the new IRS policy from the standpoint of same-sex spouses.

1. The marriage penalty will hit many same-sex spouses, especially those with roughly equal incomes. The IRS ruling will force same-sex spouses to face the same apparent inequities as their married opposite-sex counterparts. Under certain circumstances, federal tax law imposes higher total taxes on married couples than they’d have to pay if they could each file as single individuals. Especially with higher-income couples, threshold limits for higher tax rates often start at far less than double the corresponding limit for single filers, leading to bigger tax bills. In addition, married couples who file separate tax returns often face limitations and restrictions on deductions that single filers don’t.

Hit the link above for the other two reasons.

For me, it’s worth paying a little extra for the right to be treated equally. After all, we always said it was about both the rights and the responsibilities of marriage.

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