Tax Victory for Same-Sex Couples in Alaska

Same-sex couples in Alaska have won a victory over property tax exemptions for people over the age of 65.  A judge in Alaska has ruled that the same property tax exemptions that apply to opposite-sex married couples should apply to same-sex couples.  The issue went before the courts in Alaska after three same-sex couples there filed suit against the state  The Miami Herald has more:

At issue are a state law and regulations that mandate local governments offer property tax exemptions for seniors 65 years old and up, and for disabled veterans.

The exemptions are for taxes on the first $150,000 of assessed value of someone’s primary residence.

State regulation to this point interprets the law as saying a married couple can get the full exemption whether the property is held in one name or both. If one hits 65, even if the spouse is younger, they qualify.

But if same-sex couples or other unmarried couples share ownership and occupancy, the regs say an eligible person can only exempt value proportionate to the amount of the house he or she owns.

Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner ruled on Friday that married couples and same-sex domestic partners are “similarly situated,” and due equal protection under the state constitution. That means equal tax exemptions, he said.

The judge ruled that even though Alaska has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state, same-sex couples should be treated equal to traditional married couples.

Read more in the Miami Herald.