January 16, 2014
Janis Cowhey, Tax & Business Services Partner, Quoted in CNBC.com Article, "What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know About Taxes."
By Herb Weisbaum
Something new, exciting and a bit scary is coming this tax season for some same-sex couples across the country: For the first time, they will file as "married" on their federal return.
This new policy will simplify the process for preparing federal taxes, but it may boost some couple's total tax liability.
Here's the new IRS policy: If you were legally married in any state or foreign country on the last day of 2013, you are married for tax purposes. The rules apply only to couples who are legally married. The IRS does not consider domestic partnerships or civil unions to be marriages.
Each state gets to make up its own rules for filing state income taxes, and in some cases, those rules are still in flux. Some states have created new forms for same-sex couples to use if they file a joint federal return.
"I see a tremendous amount of confusion," said Janis Cowhey McDonagh, co-leader of the LGBT Practice group at the accounting firm Marcum LLP. "People don't understand what their state requires, even if it recognizes their marriage. And things keep changing, so there's a lot to keep up with."
For example, a federal judge recently overturned Utah's ban on same-sex marriages. A later ruling blocked that decision until it could be appealed by the state. Between those two rulings, more than 1,000 same-sex couples married in Utah.