When the U.S. Supreme court struck down the defense of marriage act, the LGBT gained the right to marry. I have heard it said that death and taxes are unavoidable. So with the right to marry came the responsibility for taxes as a couple. Based on the Supreme Court’s ruling the IRS has taken the position that persons legally married in any state or a foreign country on the last day of 2013 are considered married for income tax purposes. Therefore, same-sex couples are faced with making certain decisions with regards to income taxes for the first time.
The IRS position makes filing federal returns less complicated. But it does not eliminate confusion as state rules may differ from the IRS rules, and the difference may be far reaching. For example, if you live in a state where same-sex marriage is not recognized, you will not have the “privilege” of the married filing status, even if you file as a married couple for federal tax, purposes for the 2013 tax year. Moreover, some states are still struggling with the tax rules applicable to same-sex couples.
Nonetheless, the 2014 income tax filing season is upon us, and I offer the following tips for the benefit of the LGBT community.
- State Income Rules: Income tax rules vary from state to state; it is important to know the rules in your specific state and gain an understanding of how the rules in your state apply to your specific situation.
- Filing Status:Consider amending income tax returns to file as “married.” However, bear in mind that the married filing status is not necessarily an advantage. It is possible to end up with a higher tax liability thanks to the “marriage penalty.”
- Previously Non-deductible Items: You may also consider amending income tax returns to include previously nondedcutible items such as for your spouses’ job-related expenses, education expenses, health insurance, IRA contributions etc.
- Look for all non-taxable benefits offered by your employers.
- If you have not already done so, list your spouse as the beneficiary on your retirement accounts.
- Apply for all social security benefits that may be available to you as a married couple.
- Get Professional Help: Income taxes can be scary, and navigating around the income tax rules as a newly recognized couple may be even more scary. If you are uncertain or unwilling to handle your income taxes alone, hire a qualified, knowledgeable tax preparer. Bear in mind that the more complex you tax situation is the greater the chance you will overlook something.
About The Author
Debra ‘CAS’ Findlay FCCA, CPA is an audit manager with Krost Baumgarten Kniss & Guerrero. Ms. Findlay has been in the audit/accounting profession for more than 25 years and provide services to small to medium size closely held corporations with a focus on retail, manufacturing, not for profit organizations and employee benefit plans. Ms. Findlay can be found at http://www.kbkgcpas.com
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