Nobody in California — or anywhere else, for that matter — enjoys working with the Internal Revenue Service. Filing taxes is complicated, and hearing from the IRS after the fact is rarely a good thing unless they’re giving you money back. With the recent changes in laws regarding same-sex marriage, however, the LGBT community may be the IRS’s biggest foe.
Now that the federal government recognizes same-sex marriage, the IRS is being ordered to handle tax returns accordingly. While this should be straightforward enough, many married, same-sex couples know that it is not that simple.
First, many same-sex couples who are married live in states that do not recognize their marriages. While they can file jointly as a married couple at the federal level, when it comes to filing state taxes, things get tricky.
At the state level, each spouse can file separately under head of household or single returns. If the IRS compares a person’s state and federal returns, these drastically different returns for the same people can raise red flags — something no one wants to deal with.
The same problem is true of people who want to divorce but cannot because their state won’t recognize their marriage. Unless they move to a state that will, they’ll have to file jointly or married but filing separately.
Ultimately, a change in the tax laws will have to come from the government. For now, couples who find themselves in a dispute with the IRS may find it helpful to seek legal advice. Dealing with the IRS is never simple, and having professional on your side can help relieve some of the stress.
Source: Bloomberg, “Why Gay Couples Hate the IRS,” Anthony Infanti, Aug. 6, 2013