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For Same-Sex Married Couples, April 15 Tax-Filing Brings Extra Challenges

With April 15 on the horizon, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) means that married same-sex couples across the country are dealing with the indignity, confusion, and expense caused by the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

DOMA means that married same-sex couples cannot file their federal income taxes jointly as married.  For some, this means paying more in taxes, and for others, it means paying less.  For all, it is a stark reminder that the federal government doesn’t respect their marriage or their family. In tax year 2012, couples from Maine and Washington have been able to marry, and are confronting these problems for the first time.

For couples and members of the media, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is making a number of resources available.

Guides for Couples and Tax Preparers

Navigating Income Taxes for Married Same-Sex Couples
http://www.glad.org/uploads/docs/publications/navigating-taxes-married-couples.pdf

Tax Time and Preserving Your Federal Rights (information on preserving the right to claim a prior-year refund if DOMA is ruled unconstitutional)
http://www.glad.org/uploads/docs/publications/tax-time.pdf

Blog Post

GLAD’s InfoLine Manager Bruce Bell, who has received hundreds of calls about tax-filing, prepared this blog post to help couples think through the issues.

Legal InfoLine

Volunteers with GLAD’s Legal InfoLine can answer questions for couples and tax preparers.  The Legal InfoLine can be reached at 800-455-GLAD (4523), or by email at gladlaw@glad.org, or for live chat at http://www.glad.org/rights/infoline-contact.

Stories of Tax-Filing Couples Harmed by DOMA

Beth Ryan and Jenny O’Flaherty of Vermont: They moved from Virginia to Vermont to protect themselves and their children from anti-gay laws, but federal discrimination followed them.

Suzanne and Geraldine Artis of Connecticut: At tax time, they must decide to whom their three children belong: to Geraldine or Suzanne.  Says Suzanne, “They’re not property, they’re my family.”

Joel Howard and John Tracy Tucker of Connecticut: This couple has paid an additional $12,000 in taxes because of DOMA.  “We are basically paying a penalty for being a gay couple,” says Joel.

Ailsa Wu and Kate Herman of Massachusetts:  With their modest income, it’s a significant loss to be unable to file jointly.  They must hire an accountant to prepare two sets of returns instead of one, and they pay more.

Paul Ruseau and Bob Ruseau of Massachusetts:  With two small children and one stay-at-home dad, Paul and Bob take a tax hit that worries them for their children’s future.

There are more stories of couples affected by DOMA  at www.glad.org/doma/stories.