Same-Sex Marriage and Taxes — News Roundup

Here’s a roundup of the latest news about gay marriage and its possible impact on taxes. 

  • In New Jersey, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage there has been approved out of committee. New Jersey already provides for same-sex civil unions and requires couples in those unions to file as married on New Jersey tax returns.
  • In Washington state, a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage passed in the Washington Senate last week. The Washington House will take up the bill this week. Washington currently allows same-sex domestic partnerships. As for the impact on taxes: at the federal level, couples in same-sex domestic partnerships cannot file as married on their federal tax returns, but those couples must still follow “community property” laws, which throws a twist into tax preparation. This will not change if Washington approves gay marriage. Also, note that Washington does not have a state income tax, so no impact on state taxes.
  • In South Carolina, three same-sex couples attempted to get marriage licenses but were denied. South Carolina passed a constitutional amendment in 2006 that bans gay marriage in the state. Not tax-related but I think this is an interesting thing to note. A similar move by three same-sex couples in Hawaii in late 1990 is what led to the federal Defense of Marriage Act being passed in 1996.
  • In Minnesota, a lawsuit seeking to legalize same-sex marriage will be heard by a state district court. Again not really tax related but does provide another interesting historical side note: a same-sex couple in Minnesota is believed to be the first in the nation — in 1970 — to try applying for a marriage license. The couple was denied a license and they filed a lawsuit. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against them. They appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Court dismissed the case.

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