Janis Cowhey, Co-Leader of the LGBT Practice Group, Quoted in Bloomberg BNA 2015 State Tax Outlook Special Report Article, "Filing Uncertainty Remains For Married, Same-Sex Taxpayers in 2015."
By Rishi Agrawal
Although the last two years have brought significant clarity at the state level regarding married, samesex couples’ filing status, many same-sex couples will still be unable to file joint state returns in 2015, leaving them restricted to filing separately or unsure as to their appropriate filing status.
“It’s very hard to plan—that’s the hardest part for same-sex couples not knowing how to plan what their tax liability will be,” Janis Cowhey, partner at the New York City office of Marcum LLP told Bloomberg BNA in a Dec. 19, 2014, phone interview.
Court Rulings. This increase in recognition, however, has not been consistent. Same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee were upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in De-Boer v. Snyder, No. 14-1341 (6th Cir., Nov. 6, 2014). Further, this ruling upheld the states’ authority to refuse to officially recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, thus denying legally married, same-sex taxpayers the ability to file a joint state return.
The Sixth Circuit’s holding certainly changed the landscape over the last two years of states increasingly moving toward recognition of same-sex marriage. This holding also “created controversy, something that was originally lacking amongst the states with regard to the removal of bans against same-sex marriage,” Cowhey said. This lack of controversy “is likely why the U.S. Supreme Court would not hear these cases” previously, she added.