When a married couple files jointly, there are deductions available to them that are unavailable to people filing as a single. It also saves money as a couple filing jointly only has to prepare one return instead of two. Gay marriage is legal in nine states and the District of Columbia. MarketWatch discusses this issue:
Much of the issues stem from the fact that gay couples cannot file jointly on their federal tax returns. This makes tax preparation more tedious for those living in states that recognize gay marriages. Same-sex couples may have to prepare as many as four tax returns in order to maximize their tax benefits, pros say. Each spouse needs to file his or her federal return as a single person. And couples who want to file married at the state level have to prepare a joint federal return — which never gets filed — in order to have all the information they need, experts say. “It’s a burden, and it takes extra costs,” says Alison Flores, an attorney and analyst with the Tax Institute at H&R Block.
This seems rather inefficient both for the people filing the tax returns and for the government in accepting numerous returns for one person or one couple. It doesn’t make sense. Furthermore, it’s discrimination. The MarketWatch article continues:
Indeed, unequal tax treatment is at the root of one of the cases the Supreme Court will hear at the end of March that could make same-sex marriage a constitutional right. Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old widow who was hit with a $363,000 federal estate tax bill when her wife died in 2009, is challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Because same-sex marriages are not recognized by the federal government, gay couples cannot pass along an unlimited amount of assets to their spouses when they die, as straight married couples can. Instead, spouses inheriting more than $5.1 million would be subject to the estate tax. (The second case coming before the Supreme Court challenges California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that prohibits same-sex marriage.)
Even President Clinton, who signed DOMA into law, recently commented that it was time to repeal DOMA. Even if you don’t agree with same sex marriage and find a moral problem with it, you can’t deny the discrimination that occurs with the above example. Requiring same sex couples to file numerous tax returns simply because their state of residence does not recognize them as a married couple is grossly unfair and prejudicial. What’s more is that it’s costing all of us more as we all share in the cost of hiring more and more IRS employees to handle the numerous tax returns filed on behalf of one couple simply because we, as a nation, fail to recognize them as a married couple. It seems like in this time of penny pinching, it would be best to do all we can to cut costs. Same sex marriage benefits us all both financially and emotionally.