Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gay & Lesbian Couples Are Penalized When Taxes Are Due

A few years ago, I was temporarily unemployed.  During that time, I got health care benefits through my husband's company.  Great!  They offer domestic partner benefits like many companies, large and small, now do.  We truly are making progress in this country.  We were both very happy and grateful, until he filed his tax returns.  Unlike straight married couples, my health care benefits counted as taxable income on my husband's return.  He had to pay taxes on my benefits.  


This does not happen to federally recognized married heterosexual couples.  Why do I keep hearing that gays are asking for "special rights" and not just equal rights?  Because the mainstream does not know these specific details.  They do not know that we are, in fact, penalized because the federal government does not recognize our relationships.  


I was surprised to realize that my current coworkers didn't know that, in most states, employees can be fired simply because they are gay...and there is nothing that the gay employee can do.  They were genuinely surprised by this.  Perhaps we need to do a better job educating people.


Via The Advocate:


CNNMoney reports that the federal government’s lack of recognition of same-sex marriages, which forces legally married couples to file separately on their federal returns, results in as much as $6,000 per year in additional taxes.

Not only are these couples losing out because they can’t take advantage of the lower tax rates that come from combining incomes and deductions, says to the article, it’s “also harder for them to qualify for certain tax breaks because the credits phase out sooner for single filers.”

“It’s costing these families thousands of dollars a year, as well as the emotional pain and suffering,” said Ken Weissenberg, a partner at accounting firm EisnerAmper and one-half of a same-sex married couple.

CNNMoney based their information on a series of same-sex versus opposite-sex tax scenarios it presented to H&R Block. A seemingly equal household with one working parent earning $100,000 per year and one stay-at-home parent earning nothing produced radically different results when toggled between opposite-sex and same-sex situations.


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